With Maya Lin’s towering grove of Atlantic white cedar trees killed by saltwater infiltration now removed from Manhattan’s Madison Square Park and set to begin their second lives as boats, and Hugh Hayden’s multifaceted Brier Patch currently being installed for the spring 2022 season, the Madison Square Park Conservancy has unveiled its next major public installation for the rest of the year.
Spanish artist Cristina Iglesias, known for her large-scale, site-specific sculptures, will dig (literally) into the history of Madison Square Park in May of 2022. Manhattan is crisscrossed by streams and rivers that have since been buried but continue to flow, flooding their banks and the basements above when it rains. For Landscape and Memory, Iglesias will exhume an impression of Cedar Creek, which once flowed beneath where the park now stands today.
“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, in the announcement. “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.”
Iglesias will, as Rapaport mentioned, dig into the park’s lawns to create five unique sculptural pools made of bronze, each with water continuously flowing over cracks and crags and into interpretations of what Cedar Creek could look like today. Each piece of Landscape and Memory will align in a sequence leading to the park’s central Oval Lawn, creating a continuous flow over the real path of the creek.
To “raise” Cedar Creek, Iglesias studied antique maps of the area prior to Madison Square Park’s founding and overlayed it with modern surveys. Much of New York’s rocky landscapes and waterways were carved by the retreat of glaciers about 18,000 years ago at the end of the last Ice Age, and what took millions of years for nature to create was quickly terraformed by humans in the name of production. Cedar Creek is just one of the numerous waterways buried during the mass industrialization of the 19th century,
Landscape and Memory will attempt to, at least for a little while, bring that history to the surface. The installation will be on view throughout Madison Square Park from May 23, 2022, through December 4, 2022.