The Darkened Mirror: Global Perspectives on Water

Release date 
Thursday, March 30, 2017

INNIPED VERTEBRAKivalina, Alaska (Jesus Landin-Torrez III),
SENEGAL COLLECTIONDakar, Senegal (Matt Swagler),
PATCH, Anvers Island, Antarctica (Micalea Neus). Courtesy Amy Balkin

The Darkened Mirror: Global Perspectives on Water
Friday, April 7, 2017–Sunday, August 27, 2017

Vibha Galhotra, Gerco de Ruijter, Khvay Samnang, Jesper Just, and Amy Balkin address our conflicted relationship with water through video and installation work. 

SAN JOSE, California (March 2017)— The San Jose Museum of Art will present recent work by five international artists who address humanity’s conflicted relationship with water in a new exhibition this spring. The Darkened Mirror: Global Perspectives on Water, on view April 7 – August 27, 2017, will include works by Vibha Galhotra, Gerco de Ruijter, Khvay Samnang, Jesper Just, and Amy Balkin.  In their videos and installation work, these artists address such themes as water access and ownership in Cambodia; agricultural irrigation in the American Southwest; the ethical implications of desert settlements; river pollution in India; and the physical and political impact of climate change locally and globally. 

“Our simultaneously abusive and dependent relationship with water has made it an international battleground not only of environmental issues, but also of humanitarian concerns,” said Lauren Schell Dickens, curator at SJMA. “From their twenty-first-century points of view, these artists reveal an essential resource that is no longer merely threatened, but actively besieged: it is a troubling reflection of the contemporary moment. They draw urgent political and ecological debates into dialogue with aesthetics and participation. In doing so, they open a space for contemplation and action.”

Vibha Galhotra evokes a classic Hindu myth of rejuvenation in her poetic video Manthan (2015). Her subject is the India’s Yamuna River, which rapid urbanization and unregulated sewage dumping have quickly made into one of the world’s most noxious rivers. In Cropped (2012), Dutch artist Gerco de Ruijter highlights the surprising aesthetic impact of the central pivot irrigation system (a common agricultural practice that marks the land in circular patterns) by animating still images into a hypnotic sequence. The exhibition also includes work by Cambodian artist Khvay Samnang, Danish artist Jesper Just, and Bay Area artist Amy Balkin. In A People’s Archive of Sinking and Melting (2012 – ongoing), Balkin makes this global threat personal: she invites museum visitors to contribute to her ongoing collection of physical items from places directly threatened by climate change. 

The Darkened Mirror is one of a trio of projects that encourages visitors to reflect on water and the precious yet public nature of this natural resource. Also on view will be  Fragile Waters: Photographs by Ansel Adams, Ernest H. Brooks II, and Dorothy Kerper Monnelly (March 17, 2017 – August 6, 2017) and Diana Al-Hadid: Liquid City (February 24, 2017 – August 27, 2017).

The exhibition is sponsored by the Myra Reinhard Family Foundation. 


The San Jose Museum of Art celebrates new ideas, stimulates creativity, and inspires connection with every visit. Welcoming and thought-provoking, the Museum rejects stuffiness and delights visitors with its surprising and playful perspective on the art and artists of our time. SJMA is located at 110 South Market Street in downtown San Jose, California. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 11 AM to 5 PM and until 8 PM or later on the third Thursday of each month. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $6 for students, and $5 for youth ages 7 -18. Members and children. For more information, call 408-271-6840 or visit

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Programs at the San Jose Museum of Art are made possible be generous support from The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, The Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, Yvonne and Mike Nevens, The Lipman Family Foundation, and a Cultural Affairs Grant from the City of San José.