Inaugural Art Installation in Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern

Buffalo Bayou Partnership (BBP) and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) co-present the inaugural art installation in the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern, a 1926 underground city reservoir that BBP restored, repurposed and opened to the public last spring. Rain: Magdalena Fernández at the Houston Cistern (#CisternRain) features 2iPM009 from the Venezuelan artist’s video series Mobile Paintings.

The Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern, a structure reminiscent of the ancient Roman cisterns in Istanbul, is a cavernous, 87,500-square-foot-space featuring more than 200 slender, 25-foot high concrete columns. BBP re-discovered the Cistern in 2010 when it was developing the $58-million Buffalo Bayou Park project, a 160-acre site west of downtown Houston. Recognizing the historical and architectural significance of the highly unusual space, BBP took a bold step to repurpose the Cistern into a magnificent public space that would house an ambitious program of changing art installations.

Buffalo Bayou Partnership has long been committed to permanent and temporary public art, and we are honored and privileged to collaborate with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston to present the work of Magdalena Fernández in this exceptional space. The entire MFAH team, the artist and Sicardi Gallery have all been incredibly generous with their time and resources to help us launch our Cistern art program,” says BBP President Anne Olson. 

This iconic space both reminds us of Houston’s architectural history and signals the city’s future in revitalizing its urban fabric,” comments Gary Tinterow, director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. “We are very pleased to organize the inaugural art project for the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern, and in particular with Magdalena Fernández’s beautiful and evocative installation, which was acquired for the Museum’s permanent collection in 2012.”

2iPM009 is an abstract video-projection piece, 1 minute and 56 seconds in length, that evokes a rain-soaked night. For nearly 20 years, Magdalena Fernández has been using digital media to deconstruct the geometric abstraction of 20th-century masters such as Piet Mondrian and Joaquin Torres-Garcia. In2iPM009, Fernández starts with a basic geometric unit that refers to those that Mondrian used a century ago in his Composition in Line (1917), from the 1914-15 Pier and Ocean series. She then multiplies that unit through its exponential projection onto the walls of the exhibition space, transforming the initial unit into a rainy night sky through the use of light, sound and movement. The soundtrack is an acoustic montage that Fernández has meticulously edited, of sounds made by members of the a cappella Slovenian choir Pertuum Jazzile, who snap their fingers, slap the palms of their hands against their legs, and stamp their heels on wood to evoke both the drumming and gentle patter of rain. With ingenuity and humor, the artist constructs a language that, though concrete and deeply rooted in Constructivism and its legacy, challenges and transcends those parameters.

For the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern, Fernández adapted 2iPM009 to project the video onto the columns so that its imagery is reflected in the shallow pool of water on the Cistern floor. The Cistern’s raw interior, modulated by a series of majestic columns, and its 17-second acoustic reverberation time, makes for an immersive art environment.

On view until June 4, 2017 at the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern. Timed tickets can be purchased at








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28 Apr 2017