AQUAGRANDA 2023: Meetings and dialogues around tides


Four years ago on November 12, Venice was submerged by 187 cm of water. It was an exceptional and disastrous tide which strained the delicate and precarious balance between lagoon, city, and community. The water destroyed infrastructures, stores, private homes, monuments, equipment, libraries, and laboratories; it challenged the economy of the city and of the lagoon, and its liveability. Memory contained in technological devices can take us back to those moments: photographs, videos, chats, audio and written messages present us with the digital traces of an entire community.

The Aquagranda project started in 2020 as a “digital community memory”, an archive of digital information and creative outputs bridging across science, art and citizenship. It was developed in the framework of Odycceus, a European H2020 research project. The role of collectors in this endeavour goes to Ca' Foscari and to the Venetian District for Research and Innovation (DVRI)

AquaGranda is in its third edition, which will take place between Nov. 12 and Dec. 12 in a series of meetings and dialogues around tides. First-hand experiences, textual, visual, audio and multimedia materials on recent climate events will come together in an exhibition moving around town on a regular ACTV vaporetto.

"AquaGranda is not only an archive, but also active memory of the Venetian community. It is an evolving project with a goal: bringing citizens into a discussion on the relationship between the city, the lagoon and the tides, with an eye to the future" – says Professor Massimo Warglien, scientific director of the project. "From the outset, AquaGranda has seen collaboration with artists as a means to bring scientific reflection closer to a shared emotional experience. It is an award-winning, innovative citizen science project that wants to grow and open up internationally."


Rooted in Water, the public program

Three years from the exceptional high water of 2019, a rich public program of events, talks, workshops and educational activities shall help investigate the city’s changing relationship with lagoonal tides, and its aquatic roots.

The program includes an online event hosted by NICHE, THE NEW INSTITUTE Centre for Environmental Humanities at Ca' Foscari, entitled 'Rooted in Water'; together with the collective who created Stratigrafie Operative, the AquaGranda team and a number of experts on the topic will explore the use of annotated operational photographs as a form of participatory research, aimed at documenting and activating memory. Climate change challenges to humans and coastal areas will also be addressed.

Another event will give voice to climate migrants, with a happening organized at Emergency's headquarters on the Giudecca island in collaboration with Euclipa and C.T.R. Venice around the exhibition ‘Dove stiamo andando? Clima e persone ('Where are we going? Climate and People'). At the Serra dei Giardini, researchers from CNR ISMAR and IUAV will talk about MOSE and future scenarios for the lagoon ecosystem. The Shylock university theater center will read out texts by female researchers, professionals and activists from Venice reflecting on women and motherhood in the context of the climate crisis. At the M9 Museum, film director Giovanni Pellegrini will present a special screening of 'LAGUNARIA,' a journey between Venice's past and future. Memories of the acqua alta provided by both current and former Venetian citizens will be discussed with Alberto Toso Fei and Giovanni Montanaro. And much more is in store.  

Stratigrafie operative

The moving exhibition, travelling on a regular public ACTV vaporetto, is a project by artists Giulia Bruno, Armin Linke and Lorenzo Mason. The AquaGranda team worked together with their art collective to retrieve confidential and technical or operational material hitherto unseen. Such documents had remained in custody of local rescue institutions and organizations working to mitigate the effects of the flooding on the city and the lagoon.People who had worked hands-on during the long night of November 12, 2019 were invited to take part in a dedicated workshop. They were able to comment and complete the collected material, revealing background and technical details that only those who lived through those moments could grasp. This participatory annotation process, which took place on November 11 and 12, 2022, was then used by the artists collective for their Working Stratigraphies.

The ACTV vaporetto hosting the exhibition is literally the vessel for these sources and documents. It enters the city’s everyday life to rekindle memories of the entire Venetian community.


A flood of ideas - student contest

Aquagranda organized a theme contest for all kind of schools in and around Venice, and students submitted drawings, poems and musical compositions on the theme of “tides”. 


AquaGranda: a digital community memory, European Union Prize for Citizen Science 2023

The AquaGranda project received an Honorary Mention from ArsElectronica, the prestigious international festival dedicated to Art, Science and Technology. It was deemed one of the best Citizen Science projects from across the European Union, the only Italian project in the category.  

Check out the Flickr Gallery: