¡Cuánto río allá arriba!, 2021
Asunción Molinos Gordo

Installation view: Abundant Futures. Works from the TBA21 Collection, Centro de Creación Contemporánea de Andalucía C3A, Córdoba, Spain, 2022

Glazed ceramic
170.3 x 52 x 52 cm, 188 x 65 x 65 cm,  188 x 65 x 65 cm

Combining sculpture with traditional hand-crafted ceramics, Asunción Molinos Gordo pays homage to the varied uses and masterful ingenuity of pottery made to conserve and transport water while hinting at the dynamics and power plays that regulate access to water sources. Pitchers, jugs, canteens, basins, and rhytons, produced in collaboration with three workshops in Manises, Spain, replicate shapes that have been in use for centuries in the Mediterranean basin to carry, drink, and celebrate water. The ceramic collages revive fragments from different historical periods, including the Nasrid dynasty, the last Muslim dynasty on the Iberian Peninsula, and botijos de engaño (jugs of deception), which are a particular type of jug, adorned with multiple drinking spouts, some purely ornamental on top of a cántaros de novia (bridal jug)—a vessel symbolic of abundance and communal celebration. Metallic support structures are reminiscent of the charitable fountains—ollel—that offer drinking water to passersby in the cities of the Islamic world.
As a researcher of contemporary peasantry, Molinos Gordo directs attention to the fair distribution of water, discussing traditional systems of cooperation and solidarity in contrast to the current drive for the privatization and commodification of resources. She highlights artisanal clay work and its value and explores the relations between the availability of running water, the mechanization of agricultural work, and rural communities’ role in contemporary society. “¡Cuánto río allá arriba!” (How Many Rivers Are Up There!) is a line from the epic poem by the Mexican poet Octavio Paz, “El cántaro roto” (The broken jug), written in the 1960s, which denounced the modernization of his country and painted the suffering of its people through the drying earth, dust, and thorns. Similarly, Molinos Gordo questions the simplistic view that considers farmers as only food producers, posing them as essential cultural agents and owners of traditional knowledge that would be useful in the face of contemporary challenges.


Group exhibition: Abundant Futures
Venue: C3A Centro de Creación Contemporánea de Andalucía, Córdoba  
Curator: Daniela Zyman
Exhibition 1 April 2022 - 5 March 2023
Born in Aranda de Duero, Burgos, Spain, in 1979. Lives in Spain and Egypt.