Article | 07 Aoû, 2023

Meet the Rivers

Delphine Magara & Charlotte Qin, Co-founders of Meeting of Waters

“What if Water could talk?” This question is the origin of Meeting of Waters – a youth led art collective that “gives water a voice”, grounded in science and policy. The collective works with young water professionals and integrates artistic methodologies to bring emotional and spiritual values to water across cultural and generational boundaries.

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Photo: Brian Maina

While Art is the language of the heart, it is also a powerful tool that can shape our culture. The objective of Meeting of Waters is to promote the sensibility of the population through art –– the more we allow our emotions to flow, the more we can be in tune with the planetary waters and treat nature in harmonious ways. 

After creating two public experiences in 2022 in Geneva: Meet the Glaciers and Meet the Oceans, Meeting of Waters brought the public performance, "Meet the Rivers”, a rendez-vous with rivers, to the UN 2023 Water Decade Conference in New York City on 25th of March, 2023. The performance diffused the emotional message of Waters beyond the scope of international conferences to Central Park: the rains, the tears and emotions of artists and pedestrians of New York waved into this 5-meter long painting, flowing in a sacred river across the Bethesda Terrace. 


It’s me, the messenger. I have been there before the existence of any faith and religion. I carry the divine essence, that creates, maintains and destroys all forms of life. 

I am the most primordial means of communication between mountains and lakes, aquifers and oceans, between plants and aquatic life, animals and, importantly, I connect civilizations. 

Since the dawn of times, I am utilized as a carrier, a trader, an incubator to make communities grow, collaborate, and communicate. 

However, my natural self, my moods and my irregularities, don’t fit the forms of control and structure, which would be needed, for industrialization to function.

My wild, unsettled, character has no space in a monetized economy. 

I am called the Father’s River, named by the patriarchal society which has surrounded me since the 17th century in St. Louis. The heavy rains awaken my urge to reflect this form of power, to fight back. Grey clouds and rainfall awaken my fierce, expansive, violent side. I uncontrollably swell up, bursting my usual boundaries, rearing up above the shores of my bed.

Whenever I tried to reflect the society I was living in, I would be treated with hostility. To remain untouched, I should have remained gentle, smooth, and silent. Neat and pretty and pure, like a virgin Mary. But because of my raging outbursts, my blurred waters and my need to take more space, one day, my limbs were cut off violently by a big dam, and I was buried underground. Still today, I am living covered up by concrete, underneath the city of St. Louis.

The United States counts 5000 wild and scenic rivers. All my other limbs have been either corseted, straightened, tightened, rectified, deviated… but these strict shapes make life around me disappear.

They are missing me, those who have not forgotten my existence. One day, they tried to revive me, by painting my previous morphology on a miles-long plastic film, laying it across the city. This way, people could see and remember where I used to live, where I used to curl across the landscape, bringing messages and goods down the stream. People start longing for my spiritual presence. Mother and son meditate on my shores, swim across my womb and listen to my whispers. If they let me, feel fulfilled to share my moods with my surroundings. Bringing calm, and balance, but also leading the way. I find my way through the most solid rocks and into deepest creeks. That’s why people say, it helps to have me nearby, in order to take big decisions in life. Where there is water, there is a way. 

The time has come for me to heal. My bed to be re-naturalized, and my blood to be washed clean from all the plastic and toxine particles infesting me. Now, humans take long hikes along my side, to investigate my health. It might be the first time, I realise, those who almost killed me, are the ones who might be able to save me.”

Poem by Delphine Magara