Hondalea (Marine Abyss), 2021. All the material involved in the architecture of the house, bronze, hydraulic mechanism, and water, installation view. Photo: José Luis López de Zubiria

Fictions in the Natural World: A Conversation with Cristina Iglesias

Cristina Iglesias’s large-scale sculptures and installations expose the roots of the natural world and connect them to concepts that influence our perception of it, including memory, cultural narratives, and time. Her ambitious outdoor public artworks, whether involving mazes, the flow of water (both above and below ground), or tapestry-like gardens, intermesh old and new histories of rural and urban sites, leading viewers into places where art and architecture morph into a hybrid of nature and imagination. Her most recent projects include Wet Labyrinth (with Spontaneous Landscape) (2020–22), a temporary work for the Royal Academy’s Annenberg Courtyard in London, and Hondalea (Marine Abyss) (2021), a permanent, site-specific sculpture that transforms the lighthouse on the island of Santa Clara in the Bay of Donostia-San Sebastián, Spain. This vertiginous sculptural environment (a gift from the artist to her native city) sinks deep into the bedrock, incorporating the distinctive geology of the Basque coast and the rough waters surrounding Santa Clara.

Landscape and Memory, Iglesias’s current installation of five bronze pools at Madison Square Park in Manhattan, retraces Cedar Creek, which once ran through the area and into the Hudson. This understated work adapts the geological and historical approach of installations such as Tres Aguas (2014), which reimagines the flow of the River Tagus in a pre-1492 Toledo where Moors, Christians, and Jews lived in harmony, bringing the same sensitivity and unique vision of public space to an American context.

Jan Garden Castro: Landscape and Memory, your installation at Madison Square Park, takes a deep dive into substrata, exploring what’s hidden beneath the surface of the earth and, maybe, under our human flesh. What inspired you to go in this direction?
Cristina Iglesias: I’ve been very interested in the underground for a long time. The title comes from Simon Schama’s book Landscape and Memory, which I’ve read many times . . .

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