Looking Up Rachel Whiteread's Water Tower
Public Art Fund
Many people who have walked with me in a city know about my interest in water towers. I have given some thought as to why these structures interest me. Partly it's because they signify city to me, there were no such water towers in town I was from. It seems as if they're a tangible expression of time- particularly in Detroit, they're a sign of earlier life and vitality, the towers haunting the sky to some degree. They have a presence in the sky and they also have a function. I try to capture as many as I can in snapshots since each feels unique. Rachel Whiteread also took an interest in water towers and explored, researched and created a project inspired by the water towers of New York. I've had my eye on this book for a while but the truly wonderful Strand Bookstore had it for $5 or so, and thus I found my copy.
Whiteread's tower now seems to be on MoMA's roof. Whiteread chose a trasnslucent material to cast her water tower unlike the dense materials of her casting of house interiors (I saw Ghost this summer at the National Gallery) prevent one from entering the former interior. What is it about water towers that lets us in? I'm still not sure but perhaps in continuing to return to such a question there the answers will become as interesting as the question. I just started thinking about the way water towers are part of networks, relationship which I realize more and more each day underlie many projects and interests of mine.
13- Joan Didion, The White Album, "Water is important to people who do not have it, and the same is true of power."
-arid climates, water- "liquid capital"
15- "The skyline of old New York is the engineering consequence of the reserves of water held in upstate regions."
-1998- 17,000 rooftop water tanks in NYC
16- "Human habitations must be protected from their own effects."
17- "In present-day New York City, the politics of land values can be read in the architecture of the skyline. Water, like any other system, is political: power that can be channeled, streamed, diverted and stored."
18- "To look at Whiteread's Water Tower is not only to be reminded of the origins of what we take for granted but also to delve into the functioning of a larger system of which wooden water towers are merely the visible pinnacles."
20-Ilya Kabakov, Monument to the Lost Glove
22- David Hammons
-"the projects in their city locations are 'open texts' which invite many possible readings and individual perceptions."
23- Gordon Matta- Clark
24- 1st research trip- walking
25- Bernd and Hilla Becher
-"The water tower is part of the complex system by which water is collected and distributed. Consisting of a water tank and a tower-like substructure, it fulfills 2 purposes at the same time: storage and the maintenance of pressure."
27- almost disappearing, invisible
-"part of the sky itself"
28- "those who seek it out will find it"
47- "The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do."
Cabin the Sky, Luc Sante
89- "Although omnipresent, and comforting, in their omnipresence, water towers have nevertheless managed to avoid dull familarity. You never quite cease to see them..."
-"strictly functional idea"
92- Bechers- "It is the Bechers's mission to document with scientific rigor the architectural remnants of the age of industry."
-"They were never intended to be any more than strictly utilitarian."
-"their abject and uncompromising simplicity."
The Immigrant- Molly Nesbit
99- Gerhard Richter- city of New York
100- Rem Koolhaus- "count the rabbits"
-"to make something not there"
-"she would retreat from the skyline to return to it."
101- J. G. Ballard's Crash
105-106 "She gave peace an urban shape in her inverted tower of water"
106- country moment "When there are no birds singing, and there's no wind, you just get this silence that is absolute concrete, it completely smothers you."
-"But New York is not itself capable of this kind of silence."
-"What is an artist? Neither tourist nor traveler exactly."
-107- "For a large work of art like Water Tower is in effect asking to be held only by the world."
108- "No city on earth, no life on earth, has the scale of sky."
-"Clouds are notoriously silent."
163- Moondance Diner (now closed)
166- RW: "I really wanted to make something that was more like an intake of breath."
170- Robert Leonard: "It reflects the idea of a monument without marking a site that a monument would normally mark as being significant. It is an empty form waiting for meaning to attach itself to it."
171- Trisha Brown: "people didn't look up; artists probably did"
173- Trisha Brown, Roof Piece, Soho, 1972
176- Dan Graham- Two Way Mirror Inside Cube
183- Ingrid Schaffner- "this city's particular capacity to inspire whomever is simply prepared to look."
188- David Zwirner: "Looking for it is almost just as satisfying as finding it."
195- Diane Lewis: "The city is a text...But an existential description of the city as a history is that history has no objective, the art is to give it one, by reading of the city not as a history but as une histoire, a story."