FREE GENIE is a collection of water glasses dealing with the spiritual dimensions of water and their appropriation by the bottled water industries world wide. FREE GENIE was created by Regina Hügli as a conversation piece for water workshops in Vienna hosted by ONE BODY OF WATER in 2023.
Selected pieces of secondhand-houseware serve as vessels for engravings referring to spiritual dimensions of water – actual brand names and marketing slogans of the bottled water industries. FREE GENIE reclaims these spiritual references in behalf of the de-commercialized, personal experience of drinking local (tap) water. The art intervention supports a deeper connection to water and serves as a conversation piece in groups.
The fundamental, deep connection between water and life/death shows itself in a spiritual relationship of humans to water and water bodies in many cultures.
However by treating water as a commercial good, a resource, this relationship to water has faded. Its usage is an enormous economic and political factor. Water bodies worldwide are being used and polluted, and others are being privatized, bottled and sold as drinking water. Revenue in the Bottled Water segment amounts to US$ 342.4 billion in 2023. The market is expected to grow annually by 5.24%.
Quite many marketing strategies of drinking water industries refer to the spiritual dimensions to water – thus selling not only water, but also its spiritual value. By brand names and slogans addressing a memory or sense of renewal, purity, healing, or even more specific spiritual wording, consumers are invited to buy not only hydration but a reminiscence of a spiritual experience. The connection to water and life is commercially appropriated. FREE GENIE interferes by freeing the genies from their commercialized context.
Regina Hügli, 2023, in cooperation with Design Büro Baustelle, Vienna.