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Cristina Iglesias Unearths Forgotten Landscapes in Major Site-Specific Installation at Madison Square Park

Cristina Iglesias invites the public to consider the forgotten terrains and geographic history of New York City in a new public art installation opening this June, her first major temporary public art project in the United States. Landscape and Memory places five bronze sculptural pools, flowing with water, into Madison Square Park’s Oval Lawn, harkening back to when the Cedar Creek 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. 

On view from 1 June through 4 December 2022, Landscape and Memory will be complemented by a slate of interdisclipinary public programs, free and open to the public. Presented within and responding to the work, these include a summer music series curated with Carnegie Hall as well as performance programming organized in conjunction with The Kitchen. Iglesias will also serve as the keynote speaker for the Conservancy’s annual public art symposium, held on Friday, 3 June 2022, which will investigate the role of public art in shedding new light on buried histories, both metaphorically and physically. 

“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 citizen archaeologists witnessing a living artifact from a centuries-old New York City, untouched by the present-day urban landscape.”  

For Landscape and Memory, Iglesias digs deep into the park’s lawns to install five subterranean bronze sculptures carved with intricately patterned bas-reliefs. A subtle stream of water continuously trails 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, and connecting us to abstract ideas of what lies beneath us.

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 historic maps that document the water flow through 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 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 original site.”

Landscape and Memory is organized by Brooke Kamin Rapaport, Deputy Director and Martin Friedman Chief Curator; Tom Reidy, Deputy Director of Finance and Special Projects; and Truth Murray-Cole, Curatorial Manager. Keats Myer is the Conservancy’s Executive Director.

1 June - 4 December 2022

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