Artist Cristina Iglesias Unearths Forgotten Natural Histories of Madison Square Park in Major Site-Specific Installation Opening May 2022
Landscape and Memory Evokes Park’s Buried Topography With Five Large-Scale Bronze Sculptures Set into Landscape and Flowing with Water
New York, NY | December 13, 2021—In spring 2022, Spanish artist Cristina Iglesias will unearth the forgotten terrains and geographic history of Madison Square Park in a newly commissioned public art installation, her first major temporary public art project in the United States. Landscape and Memory will place five bronze sculptural pools, flowing with water arriving in different sequences, into the park’s Oval Lawn, harkening back to when the Cedar Creek—now buried underground—coursed across the land where the park stands today. Building on Iglesias’ practice of unearthing the forgotten and excavating natural history, Landscape and Memory resurfaces in the imaginations of contemporary viewers the now-invisible force of this ancient waterway. The installation will be on view from May 23 through December 4, 2022.
“Cristina Iglesias is renowned for sculpture and installation that engage closely with the spatial, cultural, and historical qualities of the spaces where they’re sited. With Landscape and Memory, Iglesias brings a new level of exploration to our commissioning program, creating sculptural cracks in the lawns that reveal an unseen element of the park’s natural history,” said Brooke Kamin Rapaport, Deputy Director and Martin Friedman Chief Curator of Madison Square Park Conservancy. “Visitors who encounter the work will do so almost as archaeologists witnessing a living artifact from a centuries-old New York City, untouched by the present-day urban landscape.”
For Landscape and Memory, Iglesias will dig deep into the park’s lawns to install five subterranean bronze sculptures carved with intricately patterned bas-reliefs. A subtle stream of water will continuously trail across the sculptures’ hollowed surfaces, evoking the constancy of water slowly eroding rocky surfaces across millennia. The installation conjures the existence of unseen ancient streams that continue to run beneath modern cities, connecting the urban present with its primordial past. Connecting us to abstract ideas of what lies beneath us, within.
Nodding to historian Simon Schama’s major 1995 volume of the same name, which surveyed the history of landscape across time and terrain, Landscape and Memory is informed by Iglesias’ research into the history of the site. For the project, Iglesias located and studied antique maps that documented the water flow beneath Madison Square Park, where the Cedar Creek once coursed. With nineteenth-century industrialization, streams like the Cedar were buried underground to create additional land for building sites, underground drains, or sewers. Through Landscape and Memory, Iglesias renders this buried history visible again, inviting viewers to contemplate centuries of transformation of urban sites that were once natural.
“Madison Square Park has a rich history, witnessing and participating in several hundred years of New York City’s growth and evolution,” said Madison Square Park Conservancy Executive Director Keats Myer. “Iglesias’ commission digs deep into this history, evoking an era that predates even our centuries-old park, to reconnect today’s visitors with the natural wonder of the site as it once was.”
Landscape and Memory is organized by Brooke Kamin Rapaport, Deputy Director and Martin Friedman Chief Curator; Tom Reidy, Senior Project Manager; and Truth Murray-Cole, Curatorial Manager. Keats Myer is the Conservancy’s Executive Director.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Cristina Iglesias shapes large-scale, site-specific sculpture and installations that probe the tension between past and present, ancient and contemporary. Resisting the asceticism of the Minimalist movement, Iglesias initially created grid-like structures in natural materials that were suspended to assemble pavilions and architectural spaces. Beginning in the 2000s, Iglesias began to incorporate water into her permanent outdoor projects and sculptures.
Iglesias’s work has been the subject of solo presentations at museums internationally, including Centro Botín, Santander, Spain (2018), Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid (2013), Ludwig Museum, Cologne (2006); Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (2003), and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1997). She additionally has been commissioned to create major projects and installations at Bloomberg headquarters, London (2017); Fondaciòn Botin, Santander (2017); Tres Aguas at Toledo, Spain (2014); Mexican Foundation of Environmental Education, Baja, California (2010); Museo del Prado, Madrid (2007); and Royal Museum of Fine Art, Antwerp (2006). The Museum of Fine Arts Houston opened Iglesias’ major permanent outdoor commission, Inner Landscape (the lithosphere, the roots, the water) (2020) in front of the new Kinder Building and last summer she realized Hondalea (2021), transforming a lighthouse into a sculpture on Santa Clara Island in the Bay of Donostia, San Sebastián, Spain.
Iglesias represented Spain at the Venice Biennale (1986, 1993) and at the Biennale of Sydney (1990, 2012); at the Carnegie International, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh (1995); at the Taipei Biennial (2003); at the SITE Santa Fe Biennial (2006) and at the Folkstone Triennal (2011).
Iglesias was born in San Sebastián, Northern Spain in November 1956. She studied Chemical Sciences in the University of the Basque Country (1976 – 1978), and ceramics and sculpture at the Chelsea College of Art in London (1980 - 1982). She was granted a Fulbright scholarship to study at Pratt Institute (1988). She was appointed Professor of Sculpture at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Munich (1995).
Her studio is in Madrid, Spain.
Landscape and Memory is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Leadership support for this exhibition is generously provided by Marian Goodman Gallery, New York/Paris andThe Ruth Stanton Foundation. Major support for the exhibition is generously provided by Agnes Gund and Bloomberg Philanthropies. Substantial support is provided by Candy and Michael Barasch.
Major support for the art program is provided by Sasha C. Bass, Bunny and Charles Burson, Toby Devan Lewis, Ronald A. Pizzuti, Thornton Tomasetti, Tiffany & Co., Anonymous, and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Substantial support is provided by Charina Endowment Fund, Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Sol LeWitt Fund for Artist Work, Madison Square Park Conservancy Art Council, Audrey and Danny Meyer, and The Rudin Family. Additional support is provided by 400 Park Avenue South, Lenore G. Tawney Foundation, Fern and Lenard Tessler, and Anonymous.
Madison Square Park Conservancy is a public/private partnership with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation.
ABOUT MADISON SQUARE PARK CONSERVANCY
Madison Square Park Conservancy cultivates and enlivens Madison Square Park, a dynamic seven-acre public park in New York City’s Flatiron District and one of the city’s most treasured greenspaces. Through its public art commissions, horticultural stewardship, and engaging programming, the nonprofit creates an urban oasis that welcomes a diverse community of over 60,000 visitors each day. Keats Myer is the Conservancy’s Executive Director.
Since 2004, the Conservancy has become a leader in commissioning new works of public art, curating and presenting over 40 major site-specific installations and solo exhibitions through its art programming. Led by Brooke Kamin Rapaport, Deputy Director and Martin Friedman Chief Curator, the program invites leading artists to push the boundaries of their practice and create risk-taking new works that experiment with materiality, scale, and theme in response to the park’s unique environment. The ambition of the commissioning program expands each year alongside the diverse range of innovative artists including Diana Al-Hadid, Tony Cragg, Abigail DeVille, Leonardo Drew, Maya Lin, Iván Navarro, Martin Puryear, Arlene Shechet, Ursula von Rydingsvard, and Krzysztof Wodiczko.
In 2019, the Conservancy served as the commissioning institution for the U.S. Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, marking the first time that an organization whose visual art program focuses exclusively on public art has received this honor. With Rapaport serving as Commissioner, the Conservancy presented new work by Martin Puryear.