by Anna Kroll
Re-PLACE-ing Philadelphia is building an expanded archive of cultural memory that includes multiple histories, re-place-ing the established with new narratives and understandings. Notes from invited artists and community members consider place via the street, sound, rivers, trees, and other portals.
Through video and text, Anna Kroll meditates on how water has oriented her sense of place.
I grew up in the seam of two bodies of water, the Gulf of Mexico and Lake Tarpon in Tarpon Springs, Florida. Now I live between the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers.
Tarpon Springs is a small city comprised of a series of bayous feeding into the gulf. I was never more than ten minutes from a coast. I was never more than a few feet from the water that flowed below me in the the porous limestone. My connection to water was so innate that it went unnoticed.
North Bennington waterfall
I moved to Philadelphia after graduating college in Vermont and felt all of the uncertainties of trying to carve a new home. My proximity to a body of water was not something that I considered when choosing where to live. But as I tried to figure out the new rhythms of my life I often found myself by the Delaware river. The water’s movement gave me a pace for my thoughts and permission to be still while I was anxiously navigating a transition that I had anticipated for decades. I am never that far from a coast.
Water is rarely truly stagnant. It flows. It steams. It seeps. Slight disturbances cumulate out across its surface. It can adapt and it can destroy. It cycles around us, evaporating and precipitating, traveling every place I have ever been and ever will be.
Schuylkill river waterfall
I use water as a geographic marker to orient myself. I look for it on the map, I look for it on the horizon. Water can both be used as a tool for transportation and division. Once considered a beacon for development, we often bury it and bypass it in favor of efficiency. Covered streams flow beneath me. Water sustains me. It helps me feel connected. It flows through our bodies and it flows through our land.
Anna Kroll is an artist living in South Philadelphia. See her work at annakroll.com, see more water at @aqueousness.