Watershed Moment is meant to mark a turning point in the life of a ruin, the moment of its rebirth. Built in 1911 to resemble a Roman bath for the late Gilded Age elite, the Lyndhurst natatorium was abandoned during World War II when coal was unavailable to heat the boilers. Over the years it was destroyed by water, which leaked through the roof and caused it to collapse. Today it is in a ruined but stabilized condition.
Artist Jorge Otero-Pailos pours new life into this ruin as a place to meditate on our present relationship to water, to our culture, to history and to the privileged access that New Yorkers have to increasingly scarce resources. For Lyndhurst, two translucent casts of the ruin’s crumbling walls hover over the pool like curtains of water frozen in time, throwing into tactile relief the force of water to both destroy and create. The visitor will drift through the ruin in a stream of water sounds that the artist documented throughout New York State, from Niagara Falls to the Adirondacks, down to the Hudson River and the Croton aqueduct, which tunnels under the side of the ruin on its way to quench New York City.
“As the public questions monuments and looks at how they interact with our current values, this installation opens the opportunity for contemplation and dialogue about who we are and how we think.”
-Howard Zar, executive director
At Lyndhurst, Otero-Pailos’ latex castings have been suspended like glowing ghosts of the unrestored building. By utilizing a soundscape in his installation, the artist expands our perceptions beyond the natatorium into the world surrounding us, inviting audiences to see what is past and present and what surrounds us that we often overlook in our daily lives. Like the Hudson River painters before him, Otero-Pailos expands the aesthetic encounter with water to a geological scale, without losing sight of the minute details and marks of erosion that water leaves in its relentless motion through the landscape and through buildings.