Between Clouds and Oceans

Between Clouds and Oceans is a collaborative series initiated by the Water Initiative at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) and the QinTheory Studio. In each item of this series, a message from water will be embodied by an article written by a researcher from IHEID and a piece of channeled artwork from artist Charlotte Qin.

Water is the origin of all lives but also indispensable to the identity and cosmology of our ancestors. Following where water flows Between Clouds and Oceans, the collaboration aims to create an ethnographic collage about water tangential to the international discourse on water governance, water diplomacy, and natural resource management. We hope that this artistic collaboration will help us unlock our long-sought answers to creating peace and living in harmony with one another through learning from water.


Be Water: the Ancient Chinese Way 
by Charlotte Qin

Be Water: the Ancient Chinese Way

By Charlotte Qin
How does the way we perceive water affect our self-identities? What does water teach us about treating one another and the earthly environment? Let’s behold today’s water crisis and injustice around the world through an ancient lens. The first story is about China.

Water is the root metaphor in Chinese culture that constructs how the Chinese civilization has perceived nature since ancient times. Being the most present element in daily life, water has always been a prevalent symbol in Chinese philosophy and mythology but is also where the ancient sages find peace and freedom. Moreover, water further manifests its aesthetic value through the creation of Chinese artists and architects, impeccably blending the beauty of the human world into its greater natural surroundings.
FULL ARTICLE
A Wave of Ocean Plastic: The Brazilian Tormenta
By Laisa Branco de Almeide

A Wave of Ocean Plastic:
The Brazilian Tormenta

By Laisa Branco de Almeida
Upon returning to my hometown, the feeling of being immersed in a post-apocalyptic scenario stuns me and drives me to take actions that seek to solve the problems all around me. The amount of plastic residue laying on the sand and many bottle caps and straws around beach tables caught my attention right away. It’s impossible not to remember the fable of the bird extinguishing the forest wildfire one drop of water at a time. In the same way, volunteers from various organisations collect every piece of waste they can. Yet, it seems like it is never enough. As the question continues to pop into our heads, I ask myself, where are we heading in the next few years with all the plastic polluting our oceans?
FULL ARTICLE
The Ocean in a Drop
By Delphine Magara

The Ocean in a Drop:

Why looking at details can improve understanding the world – an example from Switzerland

By Delphine Magara
The canton of Valais represents one of Switzerland’s most arid areas. Due to seldom rainfall during summer, Valaisan people created a sophisticated irrigation system called bisses (Suonen in German), dating back from the 13th century. This traditional system of water transport is still in place today, bringing water to the villages and to the cultivated fields of this mountainous region.
FULL ARTICLE
Inner Ocean: Human-Nature Complex
By Charlotte Qin

Inner Ocean:

Human-Nature Complex through Water

By Charlotte Qin
Why is the ocean salty? This question came to me one day when I was backpacking through Malaysia in 2017. The rivers that flow into the ocean are not salty; the rain and snow that falls from the sky aren’t either. Why only the ocean, where 99% of water on Earth is held, is salty? Or, let me rephrase my question: why is only 1% of the water on Earth consumable?
FULL ARTICLE