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Margaret Cogswell

Margaret Cogswell
(US)

Proposal for Several Sites throughout Cambridge
Thirst (At the Hawk's Well)

Thirst (At the Hawk's Well) is a manifestation of long-term investigations into the physical and metaphorical significance of water in our lives. These investigations began with the discovery of W. B. Yeats' play, At the Hawk's Well, which explores the longing for immortality from sacred springs. I use this same play as a point of departure for the development of a series of public art installations which visually explore myths and rituals surrounding water. Using industrial materials to realize this piece shifts the focus from the individual's longing for immortality through rarified waters to that of a society's collective longing for a better life through the harnessing of water power for development of industry and commerce. Of equal significance to me is that At the Hawk's Well is one of Yeats' "Four Plays for Dancers" which were inspired by the traditional Noh drama of Japan. As an American who grew up in Japan, this overlay of cultures is an important element to me and will be woven into the project

Within Yeats' At the Hawk's Well, a large folded cloth is used to reference the well which was purported to contain miraculous waters that would make immortal any who drank of it.
The folding and refolding of a cloth into different configurations is an integral part of the formal Japanese Tea Ceremony as well as traditional Noh drama. Engaging this overlay, I claim this stark image and begin this project by adhering a folded blue cloth (re- configured for each site) to interior and/or exterior walls in seven different locations. Adjacent to each wall, forms resembling pendulums used in "water-witching/dowsing " are suspended, some of which may contain video related to dowsing and tea ceremony or audio narratives related to water. On surfaces beside and below each pendulum form will be selected fragments of text from these collected narratives related to water and Yeats', At the Hawk's Well. These installations will appear at intervals over a period of time, leading the unsuspecting public/viewer in much like a treasure hunt to discover the sites throughout the city. The project would culminate in a final central location incorporating an interdisciplinary performance piece spinning off of At the Hawk's Well.