Measuring Narrative with Water (2023)

Sirah Foighel Brutmann and Eitan Efrat


By and with Sirah Foighel Brutmann and Eitan Efrat
Source text and photographs Knud Heckscher
Voice: Sirah Foighel Brutmann, Hanne Foighel and Rita Efrat
Process doula: Bouchra Lamsyeh
Produced by Messidor
With the support of the Flemish Community, Morpho, Arts Centre Nona, Beursschouwburg, Kunsthal Extra City, Arts centre BUDA and Kunstenwerkplaats.

We’d like to thank the following people for their support in this project:
Sabrina Seifried, Laszlo Umbreit, Anouchka Oler Nussbaum and Studio Zaman.


In the 1920s, Knud Heckscher, Sirah Foighel Brutmann’s great-grandfather, describes his experiences while traveling by water from Copenhagen to Bangkok and back. The succinct descriptions of his wanderings in Heckscher’s letters reveal the colonial white man’s fear of the unknown. At the same time, he feels threatened by an imported anti-Semitism. Foighel Brutmann performs excerpts from the letters in different languages, retellings, and accents.

With electronic effects and acoustic sounds, pre-recorded and performed live the makers emphasise the physicality of the different languages used by Foighel Brutmann. On a screen we see text, projections of black-and-white photographs Heckscher took in Bangkok, and colorful video footage of watery phenomena. What fluids pass through us and affect us? To what extent are we responsible for the histories we inherit?

Measuring Narrative With Water touches on core themes in the practice of the artistic duo of Foighel Brutmann and Efrat. They are interested in the materiality, spatiality, and duration of images, the relationships between a viewer and history, and the temporality of narratives and memory.

Text by Natalie Gielen for Contour Biennale 2023