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Moving the Water(s): Croton Fugues

Moving the Water: Croton Fugues is installed in the street level windows along Fifth Avenue and East 40th Streets of the Mid-Manhattan Library. It is inspired by the location of the Mid-Manhattan library across the street from the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building of New York City’s main public library built in 1911 on the site of the former Croton Distribution Reservoir. It is the third in a series of projects created by Margaret Cogswell that focus on New York City’s water supply system and pays homage to the Centennial Anniversary of NYC’s aqueduct system that was completed in 1917.

Focusing on the Croton Reservoir, Cogswell’s photographs and video stills are layered to form the large panels of archival prints on canvas suspended in the windows. In two glass cabinets, Cogswell’s video stills are combined with images from archival maps found in the NYPL‘s digital files.

Inspired by paintings of India’s Deccan Court in the 16 and 17th century, the images in these panels & prints are broken down into sections of narratives, abstractions, and repetitive patterns to be read like a visual poem that seeks to entice the viewer into exploring an imagined history of NYC’s water supply system.

The re-occurring presence of a magician references Waldo Smith who was the engineer responsible for overseeing the realization of the NYC aqueduct system. In the opening ceremonies in NYC, he was referred to as "a magician". Web link for Magician Video: