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Moving the Water(s): Ashokan Fugues -Woodstock

MOVING THE WATER(S): ASHOKAN FUGUES 2016 explores the link between New York City’s unquenchable thirst and the Catskill mountain streams and its people over the past 100 years. This project is of particular significance locally because Woodstock is located in the Catskills near the Ashokan Reservoir which along with 6 other reservoirs, provides 90% of New York City’s drinking water.

Combining multiple sculptural components (including water towers), video, and audio, this research-based project culminates in a solo exhibition at the Kleinert/James and serves as a catalyst for a series of parallel events bringing people together to explore the history, water quality and sustainability concerns in these inextricably linked New York communities. Ashokan Fugues is a part of an ongoing series of individually unique River Fugues projects which Cogswell has been creating nationally and internationally over the past 14 years.

In creating this piece, I began with the idea of imagining what it would be like to see inside the water towers and watch them fill up and empty out with daily use of water. With that in mind, I decided to make water towers with translucent tanks and project video of them filling up and emptying out. To accomplish this, I shot video footage in the basement industrial sink of our apartment building that was completed in 1917- the same year as the NYC aqueduct system. Using a Go-Pro underwater camera, this footage also included pipes from 1917 that links it directly to the NYC aqueduct system. This video footage of the sink filling up with water and draining out is rear-projected onto the sides and bottom of the two water towers.

The green ball entered the piece as a way to animate the water—since water has no definitive form. With the green ball, the movement of the water and currents is emphasized and subsequently becomes the thread in the other videos and umbrellas to link the movement of the waters from the Catskills down to NYC.

In the dedication ceremony for the completion of the NYC aqueduct system, the chief engineer was referred to as a magician for the accomplishment of this major engineering feat was considered nothing short of remarkable- and magical.