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Margaret Cogswell | Moving the Water(s): Croton Fugues | Art in the Corner Room Exhibition Series at The New York Public Library

The New York Public Library

https://www.nypl.org/

476 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10018

The Art Collection presents the site-specific multimedia exhibition Moving the Water(s): Croton Fugues by artist Margaret Cogswell. The exhibition is the third in a series of projects that focus on New York City’s water supply system. The work pays homage to the Centennial Anniversary of NYC’s aqueduct system that was completed in 1917. It is also inspired by the location of Mid-Manhattan Library along Fifth Avenue and 40th Street across the Avenue from The New York Public Library’s main location (Stephen A. Schwarzman Building) that was built in 1911 on the site of the former Croton Distribution Reservoir.

Focusing on the Croton Reservoir, drawings, photographs, and archival images from The New York Public Library’s digital files are layered to form large panels that are suspended in the windows creating a collage in space.  Inspired by the paintings of India’s Deccan Court in the 16 and 17th centuries, these panels break down images into sections of narratives, abstractions, and repetitive patterns on papers of varying sizes, opacity and translucency. Installed at the street level windows of the Corner Room along Fifth Avenue and East 40th Street, this installation entices viewers to explore an imagined history of New York City’s water supply system.  Additional window texts refer viewers to web links for videos, further layering their experience.

Click here to see the video Magician accompanying the large works in the  5th Avenue and 40th Street windows.

On Saturday March 4 at 2:30 PM, Diane Galusha, author, Communications Director and Education Coordinator at the Catskill Watershed Corporation joins Margaret Cogswell for An Artist Dialogue Series event in the Corner Room. 

Art in the Corner Room exhibition series is curated by Arezoo Moseni.

Artist Statement
Moving the Water(s): Croton Fugues is the third in a series of research-based projects that focus on New York City’s water supply system and the sacrifices people in the Catskills and elsewhere have made over the years to insure that NYC has the water it needs. Croton Fugues is inspired by the celebration in 2017 of the centennial anniversary of New York City’s aqueduct system, and the location of Mid-Manhattan Library across the Avenue from the site of the former Croton Distribution Reservoir.

Croton Fugues is a part of a larger ongoing series of RIVER FUGUES projects exploring the vital and increasingly politicized role of water in our world today. RIVER FUGUES is a series of individually unique site-specific installations which utilize the musical structure of a fugue to weave together sculpture, video, sound and drawing components into site-specific installations which explore the interdependency of people, industry and rivers in post-industrial cities.

All RIVER FUGUES entail regional research, recording images and narratives that are later edited into fugues and integrated into mixed-media installations. The harnessing of a river’s water power for the development of industry and commerce uncomfortably links the idealized rural landscape with urban industry and technology. Dreams of prosperity become mixed with disillusionment as terms are redefined and both river waters and climate are compromised. Given this complex history, in following rivers, I am tracing memories and loss in the landscapes they cut through; landscapes filled with haunting histories of beauty, violence, and nostalgia.

While the initial process for gathering materials parallels that of a documentary filmmaker, the work upon completion does not follow a linear descriptive narrative. Instead my mentors are found in composers and poets whose use of intervals, sounds, images, and words challenge me to explore visual parallels in the development of my own “fugues.” Often poignant elegies, these works reflect the complex and changing relationship of a society to its industries and rivers, and strive to be a contributing artistic voice in a larger conversation addressing issues related to water.

Croton Fugues | Moving Waters, 2017, archival pigment print on paper, 12 x 48 inches. This image combines video stills from Margaret Cogswell’s Moving the Water(s) video alongside portions of an 1886 map, “Water shed of the Croton River” found in The New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Margaret Cogswell is a mixed-media installation artist who lives and works in Jackson Heights and West Shokan, New York. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including a 2009 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship. Since 2003, the main focus of her work has been the ongoing RIVER FUGUES projects that explore the increasingly politicized role of water. RIVER FUGUES is a series of individually unique mixed-media installations that examine the interdependency of people, industry and rivers. Moving the Water(s): Croton Fugues (2017), Moving the Water(s): Ashokan Fugues (installed at CUE Art Foundation in 2014 and expanded for exhibition at the Kleinert/James Center for the Arts in Woodstock in 2016), are elegies to the people in the Catskills who sacrificed their homes and land for the building of the Ashokan Reservoir that provides drinking water for New York City. —NYPL

 

Croton Fugues | Water Tunnel, 2017, archival pigment print on paper, 32 X 20 inches.


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