WYOMING RIVER FUGUES, 2012

Solo Exhibition
University of Wyoming Art Museum — Laramie, Wyoming

Curated by Susan Moldenhauer, Director & Chief Curator

Wyoming River Fugues explores the complex relationship between Wyoming's natural, cultural, historic, engineered and industrial landscapes.  Of particular interest are water rights and issues related to river water usage including irrigation and mining.

The Wyoming River Fugues installation is comprised of video projected from three surveyor’s transits; video projected onto the floor of a stock tank; and a bucket of light which moves almost imperceptibly slowly 50 feet diagonally across the gallery space. Surveyor’s transits, normally determining division of land and access to water, serve as a vehicle for exploring the historical and cultural landscape of Wyoming through video projections moving across the surrounding walls.

Mixed-media Installation: 16 ft. x 64 ft. x 37 ft.

Research in Wyoming led to the introduction to flood irrigation and the use of an orange tarp to “move the water”.  Concealing and revealing, much like the cape of a magician, the orange tarp and a magician were subsequently incorporated into the installation videos.  Their presence became a means to reference the diversions of waters by irrigation, mining, the creation of reservoirs, dams, and other efforts.

Narrative fugues were created from interviews with individuals around the state and presented through portable DVD players mounted amidst wall drawings of the rivers of Wyoming.  Participants included Arapaho and Shoshone elders, botanists, composers, archaeologists, ecologists, hydrologists, philosophers, ranchers, environmentalists, historians, poets, and scientists with the extraction industries. 

Many of these same individuals later participated in a 2-day symposium organized by the Art Museum in conjunction with the Wyoming River Fugues exhibition.  Never Drink Water Downstream: Factual Tales and Artful Musing on Wyoming Water focused on water issues including pollution, sustainability, water rights and climate change. 


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Wyoming River Fugues –
essay by Harvey Hixs

Available in: 

RIVER FUGUES – Margaret Cogswell

A book of essays and images of 17 years of River Fugues projects and drawings