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12th International IAWIS/AIERTI Conference: Water and Sea in Word and Image

12th - 16th July 2021 - online conference

“Ἄριστον μὲν ὕδωρ (Water is the best we have in the world)” (Pindare)

“Our planet Earth should be called Sea” (Erik Orsenna)

In an era in which water scarcity is threatening us all and the mainland is affected even in the depths of its epicenter by what is happening on its shores, we felt it was important and necessary to propose this subject, both acutely topical and strongly tied to the collective imagination.

In Alessandro Baricco’s novel “Ocean sea” (1993), the fictional character Plasson paints the sea with seawater. This emblematic scene sums up our topic to some extent: water is difficult to grasp and yet concerns us more and more. Shapeless, still waiting to be defined, it even resists any effort of conceptualization. Putting water and the sea into words and into images is not obvious, represents a real discursive and plastic challenge and is therefore particularly likely to call into question the relationship between text and image. Due to its rhythm “without measure” (Deleuze & Guattari, 1980), water as an element transcends Lessing’s dichotomy between arts of time and arts of space (see Louvel, 2002).

The water’s unspeakable nature does not coincide with its invisible essence. Yet, literary and plastic narratives constitute an actual semiosphere with, at its borders, an area where the semiotic links are violated (Lotman, 1966), the realm of the unstable, the arbitrary, the unaccountable.

Located at the heart of the European continent – however tightly interconnected with its periphery –, cradle of the siren Melusine, territory boasting its natural springs and its balneology, Luxembourg seems to be the appropriate place to host a world congress on this subject.

Video presentation of the thermal waters of Mondorf-les-Bains, with Nathalie Roelens and Fernando Gagliardi :

A little tour of campus Belval and Luxembourg: