by Editorial Staff

Closing reception: Saturday August 13, 4– 6pm.
Kleinert/​James Center for the Arts, 36 Tinker St., Woodstock

If you haven’t experienced this extraordinary installation —a departure from the Kleinert/​James Center for the Arts more traditional gallery offering —this weekend will be your last chance.

Margaret Cogswell has created a remarkable experience that is profoundly moving, visually compelling and topically important.


MOVING THE WATER(S): ASHOKAN FUGUES 2016 explores the link between New York City’s unquenchable thirst and the Catskill mountain streams and their people over the past 100 years. This installation combines multiple sculptural components (including water towers), video and audio and is part of an ongoing series of individually unique River Fugues projects created for exhibitions nationally and internationally since 2003.

It is an elegy to the people in the Catskills who sacrificed their homes and land for the building of the Ashokan Reservoir which provides drinking water for New York City. The main components of the installation include two water towers, video projections and narratives recorded from people both in the watershed area and New York City.

IMG_6142Using the musical structure of a fugue, the narratives, along with the video projections inside the water towers and those projected onto the walls, play out the delicate balance between the worlds of NYC and the Catskill Watershed.

Video above: Panel discussion on July 10, 2016 at the Kleinert/​James Center for the Arts, Woodstock, New York, in conjunction with Margaret Cogswell’s exhibition: Moving the Water(s): Ashokan Fugues

Panelists include:
Kathy Nolan, MD, MSL Catskill Mountain Keeper
Rebecca Martin
Aidan Ferris
Earth Guardians


As stated by the artist in the exhibition’s program: “By juxtaposing stories about rivers and water(s) in New York City with those from the Catskill Watershed, I hope to honor the history and sacrifices the Watershed communities have made over the last century and encourage vigilance in protecting the waters which sustain millions of people throughout the state.

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 water usage so I decided to make water towers with translucent tanks and project video of them filling up and emptying out.  I chose to shoot video footage in the industrial sink of the basement of our 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 linked 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 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 which was considered nothing short of remarkable.”

Margaret Cogswell is a mixed — media installation artist residing in both Jackson Heights and West Shokan, New York. Cogswell is the recipient of numerous awards, including the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 2009. Other awards include fellowship grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts (2007,1993); Pollock — Krasner Foundation (1987,1991) and Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Emergency Grant (2014).

Since 2003, the main focus of Cogswell’s work is an ongoing series of RIVER FUGUES projects which focus upon the increasingly politicized role of water. RIVER FUGUES is a series of individually unique mixed — media installations that explore the interdependency of people, industry and rivers. RIVER FUGUES began in Cleveland, Ohio with Cuyahoga Fugues, a mixed — media installation inspired by and incorporating generations of stories reflecting the life and dreams embodied by the Cuyahoga River.

www​.woodstockguild​.org   |   www​.margaretcogswell​.net

Images supplied by the artist.

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