By Nora Quintanilla
New York, Jun 1 (EFE).- Spanish sculptor Cristina Iglesias on Wednesday inaugurated her biggest temporary public art project in the United States, a work that opens “cracks” to New York City’s past and recreates an ancient stream in central Madison Square Park, at the foot of the emblematic Flatiron building.
The work, which fuses with the exuberant main garden on the square, consists of five bronze sculptures that resemble excavations and “uncover” the bed of a stream that has disappeared in modern times, with its rocks, roots and watercourses carefully sculpted in metal and the water flowing through it.
The artist, who could not attend the inauguration of her work because she has tested positive for Covid-19, told EFE by telephone that “Landscape and Memory,” as the project is called, continues in the style of others who have recently developed and are exploring the “water tables and hidden rivers” of the spaces the sculptures occupy.
Among these sculptures are “Forgotten Streams” near London’s Bloomberg building and “Hondalea” near the lighthouse on the island of Santa Clara, in San Sebastian, Spain.
“They all speak of that subterranean geological world that makes up the planet, on which we’ve built, and they’re also building a new landscape taking memory into account,” the sculptor said, emphasizing that she is always seeking to be “sensitive to the context” of the sites where she installs her works of art.
In this case, Iglesias imagines Cedar Creek, a watercourse that traversed the park some centuries ago when that part of Manhattan was marshy, and to create it she studied maps of the local geography at the New York Public Library before preparing the parts of the sculpture in Spain.
After sending them to the US, the artist assembled them, integrating them with the current terrain such that there would be “communication” between the two, but she also included a winding grassy raised pathway on which the elements are placed that traces the course of the ancient stream and “creates the sensation of subterranean dampness.”
The curator of the project, Brooke Kamin Rapaport, who is also the operations director for the Madison Square Park Conservancy, the private firm that maintains the park and selects artists for public art projects like this one, emphasized Iglesias’s career and said that welcoming her work to the park was “an honor.”
In that regard, she described the sculptor as an artistic “force” who is able to “evoke” a part of the local history that goes unnoticed by the majority of the people who pass along the streets of the Big Apple and which has been lost “in the name of (human) progress.”
The bronze “pools” through which the water passes via buried hydraulic systems, pieces of art that can be viewed and also listened to, highlight the importance of pausing and not looking up but rather down, valuing things that lie below the surface, she said.
Meanwhile, Iglesias emphasized the “call to be aware” in which the “people who are building the cities of the future” are participating, ranging from architects to urbanists and sociologists, above all being alert to how human activity is impacting on global warming, and she said that artists can also contribute to raising that awareness.
“Art can have that symbolic function and can build places like this one, which have a social aspect, since the people in the neighborhood use the park a lot. I’m interested in building places that bring people together and make them think,” she added.
The work will remain on display in Madison Square Park until early December.