Fountain of Exhaustion. Acqua Alta is an exhibition project. It presents a new 3.5-meter (10 ft) version of Pavlo Makov's fountain and reveals its 27-year history through archival materials. Fountain of exhaustion is an object consisting of a system of funnels, each of which has two exits and splits the water flow into two. Arranged one under the others, 12 rows of funnels direct the water from top to bottom, so that the water flow gradually diminishes. Unlike spurting fountains, the Makov's Fountain is exhausting itself.
The history of Fountain of Exhaustion dates back to the mid-1990s. Back then the artist worked with the theme of a Place: he printed etchings with a panorama of Kharkiv and produced art books and photo documents. The main motives of these works were waters bodies, rivers and fountains. Kharkiv at the time has been experiencing significant transformations in the urban landscape and social relations. Abandoned fountains, infrastructural accidents and water supply disruptions served as a background and sometimes additional confirmation of Makov's practices. The place of confluence of the Lopan' and Kharkiv rivers, which has appeared in his etchings since 1993, gradually led the artist to the image of a funnel that splits water flow into two and makes it lose its strength. Assembled into a large multi-level structure, the funnels formed Fountain of Exhaustion — an art object, a paradoxical symbol of life in the place of Makov's exploration.
Despite the artist's attempts, the fountain has never been installed in the urban space of Kharkiv.
"That's when I saw that the society was not able to comprehend this work, unable to diagnose itself," Makov explained the situation.
Since then, Fountain of Exhaustion has been appearing in the artist's practices in a variety of versions, materials, scales, and contexts. After a quarter of a century, it went from a local statement about the state of the place where it was created and turned towards the general agenda – the exhaustion of resources at the personal and global levels.
In April 2022, for the first time, the Fountain will take its original form at La Biennale Arte in Venice – a city that is annually experiencing high water cataclysms and canal droughts and is lively discussing the problem of exhaustion.
"Fountain of Exhaustion. Acqua Alta" is an attempt to talk about global modernity within the Ukrainian context. One of the curators' plans is to show how the local agenda has become consistent with the rest of the world, exhausted by the pandemic, environmental issues and military conflicts.