Acqua Roma

Conférence, Performance, Roma


Conférence, Performance


Acqua Roma – Nourisher of Life and Bearer of Meaning 

Water is a precious good. Already the ancient Romans were well aware of this fact, as they made huge investments in labour-intensive and complex infrastructures to replenish their cities with fresh water. The immensely water-consuming baths, then, belonged as much to Roman culture as the carefully staged simulations of naval battles in ancient arenas. In their hands, water became an instrument of power demonstrating to citizens and non-citizens alike Rome’s dominant role in the world and, more generally, civilization’s triumph over nature.

Thus, water has many qualities and serves many purposes. It has no unidimensional, straightforward meaning but is hugely complex in its significance for our understanding of present and past societies. Water can be described in terms of its physical properties, that is, measured, analysed and qualified by scientific methods. But it has also a symbolic dimension that points to its deep embeddedness in human culture. Water has been made the subject of current debates about climate change and the global distribution of natural resources, while present-day research focuses on how communities can be protected from cataclysmic events, how water movement can be transformed into green energy, and how agriculture can make best use of available water reserves. At the same time, water’s key role in sustaining life is equally reflected in philosophy, literature, and religion where it often appears as symbol of origin and purity, indicating among other things transformation, profundity and the unconscious.

The Istituto Svizzero invites to a reflection about water, focusing on its cultural and scientific significance and the challenges that we face as a society in our use of natural resources. The event articulates itself in two parts: a scientific conference approaching the topic from different angles is complemented with a water treatment system – designed and constructed by the Zurich University of Applied Sciences – that provides insight into the process of turning grey water into quality-controlled drinking water.

In collaboration with the Zurich University of Applied Sciences.


15.10.2019 – Day 1

H10:00 Joëlle Comé and Adrian Brändli
H10:20 Mira Bleuler (Zurich University of Applied Sciences) and Tumasch Clalüna (Artist), Water Management Project for the Istituto Svizzero

Message from the UN
H10:40 William Reidhead (UN Water), Water and Sanitation
H11:00 Break

Commodity and Force of Nature
H11:30 Gilbert Wiplinger (Frontinus-Gesellschaft), Roman Aqueducts
H11:50 Giulia Giovanetti (Ministero dei Beni e delle attività culturali), Terme e balnea nella Roma antica
H12:10 Christian Rohr (University of Bern), The severe flood of 1868 in southeast Switzerland and northern Italy – a turning point in water management and prevention policies?
H12:30 Discussion
H13:00 Break

The Sacrality of Water
H15:00 Ueli Zahnd (University of Geneva), Disenchanted Water – Ecological Effects of the Reformation?
H15:20 Adam Jasper (ETH Zurich), The Management of Holy Waters in Bali
H15:40 Discussion
H16:00 Coffee Break

Water cycle and Food Security
H16:30 Maurice Borgeaud (ESA Earth Observation), The use of satellite data for monitoring climate change and its impact of Earth water cycle
H16:50 Marta Antonelli (BCFN Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition), Water & Food: the inextricable link
H17:30 Discussion


16.10.2019 – Day 2

The Power of Ideas
H10:00 Claus Beisbart (University of Bern), Philosophical Ideas of Water
H10:20 Wolfgang Struck (University of Erfurt), A Watery Planet – Globalisation and the Oceans
H10:40 Discussion
H11:00 Coffee Break

 H11:30 Tumasch Clalüna (Artist), Performance

 H12:30 Break

Social and Economic Good
H15:00 Mara Tignino (University of Geneva), Water Management and International Law
H15:20 Antonio Massarutto (University of Udine), Natural Resources Economics
H15:40 Discussion
H16.00 Break

Sustainable Waters
H16:30 Fabio Di Carlo (University of Rome La Sapienza), Forme dell’Acqua: Dalle ‘chiare e fresche dolci acque’ alle Water Cities
H16:50 Flavia Caviezel (University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland), In Flux – Approaching Water Ecologies with Artistic-Scientific Practice
H17:10 Marcello Di Paola (LUISS Rome), Water, Climate and Plants
H17:30 Discussion

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