View of “If the dancing gets too stiff, the rain needs to get dug out as ice-cubes,” 2011.

The New York–based collective eteam is Franziska Lamprecht and Hajoe Moderegger. Their latest exhibition, “If the dancing gets too stiff, the rain needs to get dug out as ice-cubes,” which connects local populations in Dewitz, Germany, and Oasis, Nevada, is at Galerie M29 in Cologne through May 28.

THIS SHOW IS PART OF OUR LARGER PROJECT, OS GRABELAND. The “OS” stands for either “open source” or “operating system,” and the German term Grabeland means land for digging, particularly land left over from allotments leased to people during World War I and World War II so they could grow food. As with our ongoing project International Airport Montello, we used eBay to purchase land, but this time we purchased a set of allotment gardens in Dewitz, a village north of Berlin. We became the landlords of a 36,000-square-foot plot of land with eight remaining tenants and seven feral lots. After receiving complaints from our tenants about the lack of access to water, we suggested that we dig a well, an idea our tenants rejected. Their complaint provided us with a connection to the land and the people of Dewitz, and over the past several years we have searched for water in different ways. We have used this exploration both as a motif and as a means of turning the local into the global and connecting the plot in Dewitz with land in northeast Nevada. The water of the Atlantic geographically separates Dewitz and Oasis, but the lack of access to water connects the two sites.

Initially the project fell in line with our first land project, Acre Flat Screen, in which we acted as real estate developers. However, in Dewitz it was not as straightforward. When you work with people and depend on their collaboration, you can never plan. You have to feel out what is happening, all kinds of directions, and see what really works. In Dewitz and Oasis our work now happened on a more metaphysical level.

We believe that each place emits some kind of information. We were in Dewitz trying to see the place from a different perspective and have it used differently, to expand the ways in which people think about a specific site. With International Airport Montello, it had been easier for our collaborators to project their dreams onto the blank land of the desert. But in Germany, it was harder for projections to appear since there was so much tied to the use of the land, with the efforts to plant the vegetables, to use the correct fertilizer, and to grow the food in the appropriate way.

The exhibition includes a five-channel video installation with snippets from our work with the people in Dewitz and in Oasis, showing different parts of this social, mental, and metaphysical experiment, as well as photo collages and a series of “code-calligraphic” drawings, which show codes we devised after analyzing line-dancing steps. The project as a whole focuses on the search for water as a vehicle for moving and creating something new, and for expanding people’s conceptions of a particular site. How you look at the field as water? How do you produce water? And how do you make it visible? These were some of the things that interested us. In the end, though, it was not really about bringing the water to the site but about changing people’s perspectives of the land. Do you still complain about the lack of water if you have the ocean around you?