Works: Maria Lucia Cruz Correia

© Mark Pozlep

STILL HERE – a Tribute to the Zenne River

How does water flow through and between human and more-than-human bodies politically, socially and environmentally? How do we apply a process based on reciprocity, accountability and interdependency to the Zenne river? Do we need other ways of making justice and of care for the Zenne River?

STILL HERE – Tribute to the Zenne River will be a new study case of Natural Contract Lab (see below) between 2023-26. This long-term commitment will enable a systemic relationship with the river’s ecosystem and local communities. The project will cross Wallonia, Brussels and Flanders – from the source of the Zenne in Soignies to its bifurcation at the Zennegat in Mechelen.

During the first two years of STILL HERE, the artists’ collective will be learning from the different communities along the river about grief stories, ancestry myths, harms, projects of care and voices of resilience both human and more-than-human, in an attempt to get to know the river as a living entity with a history. The ambition is to form a federation of Zenne guardians for its legal recognition in the Belgian constitution. The project results in 8 “immersive river walks” with local communities and a “Guardians of Zenne School” in collaboration with universities. The last year will be a gesture of care to support the reopening of a part of the Zenne in Brussels.

Natural Contract Lab was founded in 2020 by Maria Lucia Cruz Correia in collaboration with a multidisciplinary group, including Marine Calmet (rights of nature), Brunilda Pali (restorative justice), Lode Vranken (design/philosophy), Vinny Jones (sensory scenography) and Evanne Nowak (ecological grief). Margarida Mendes (research/sonic guidance) joined the collective in 2021. Together they develop a body of care, researching forms of environmental justice through practices of reciprocal care, such as walking-with the river, performative rituals, ecocide hearings, restorative justice, ecological grief circles, and other actions that move along with the flow of the riverine.


Production: Hiros Coproduction: VierNulVier, Workspacebrussels, Kanal Centre Pompidou, LUCA School of Arts Antwerpen, UGent Supported by: Zenne Archives of Rijksarchief Brussel (BE), European Forum for Restorative Justice (EFRJ), Department of social and cultural anthropology (KULeuven) Local partners: tbc