Reclaiming the Water Tower as Public Art
June 5, 2012
“Watertower” by Tom Fruin
The 10,000 or so watertowers sprinkled throughout New York are strange objects, instantly recognizable and reassuringly familiar, yet relics of an old and utterly foreign industrial spirit that vacated the city (or at least, most of it boroughs) long ago. Nowadays, the stubby cylindrical containers have become fashionable as mediums for artistic interventions, which seize on both the watertower’s bluntly honest materiality (see the Watertower chair, fabricated from the shell of a dismantled tank) and its latent potential to transverse time and even functionality, for that matter (see the Water Tank project featuring designs from a diverse casts of artists and characters alike, from Ed Ruscha to Jay-Z, or the transformation of the city’s useless infrastructure into art).
The latest in the trend is artist Tom Fruin‘s imaginatively transparent and colorful “Watertower” project, which he recently installed on a DUMBO rooftop. The piece, which opens this Thursday, June 7, maintains the proportions and size of a typical water tank, but has been rendered a glass tapestry of salvaged materials. Visible from Lower Manhattan, the sculpture is a De-Stijlesque jigsaw of upwards 1,000 polychromatic fragments of discarded and recycled Plexiglas Fruin collected from building sites all over the city. During the day, the sun sets the watertower ablaze, while at night, projection designer Jeff Sugg will illuminate the structure with a lightshow boogie woogie planned to play every nightfall throughout the year.
Photo: Robert Banat