Waterloo Greenway Conservatory, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating and maintaining an urban park system along Austin’s Waller Creek, has announced the latest in its series of large-scale public art commissions from internationally renowned artists. Past Deposits from a Future Yet to Come is a monumental video piece by Austin-based collaborative duo Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler.
The work will go on view at Waterloo Park, at 500 E. 12th St. in Austin on March 2, 2024. It will maintain a rotating schedule through 2028. Beginning each evening at nautical twilight (the second twilight phase, when the Sun’s disk is between 6 and 12 degrees below the horizon), the video work will fill the entire 16-by-120-foot wall of the Moody Amphitheater.
Past Deposits from a Future Yet to Come grew out of research that Hubbard / Birchler conducted on the history of Waller Creek and Waterloo Park. The duo learned that a collection of artifacts dating from the mid-19th to mid-20th century had once been unearthed from the site and were housed in deep storage at the Texas Archaeological Research Laboratory. They spent a year filming these artifacts, the footage of which is used in the piece and projected at a monumental scale.
According to a press release from the Waterloo Greenway Conservatory, “the colossal-sized objects orbit one another — with synchronous and asynchronous movements — some spin wildly and without inhibition against a dark void.” The footage is accompanied by a score from New York-based composer Alex Weston, who previously collaborated with Hubbard / Birchler on their piece Flora. That work debuted at the 2017 Venice Biennale, and in 2021 it went on display at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.
Hubbard / Birchler are professors in the Department of Art and Art History within the College of Fine Arts at the University of Texas at Austin. Their collaborative studio practice began in 1990 when they met as artists-in-residence at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Banff, Alberta, Canada. They refer to their work as “a hybrid form of storytelling that weaves together reconstruction, reenactment, and documentary.”
Their pieces have been presented in many acclaimed venues, including the 48th and 57th Venice Biennial (they represented Switzerland in 2017); the Giacometti Institute Paris; Hamburger Bahnhof, Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin; the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; Kunsthaus Graz; Mori Museum Tokyo; the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Reina Sofia Museum Madrid; Tate Museum Liverpool; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among many other Texas-based venues.
In the press release, Hubbard / Birchler said of their new commission, “It has been exciting to consider this place through its historical traces of presence and absence — giving equal weight to what has remained and what has been washed away over the course of thousands of years.”
Meanwhile, Waterloo Greenway CEO Jesús Aguirre said, “The way Past Deposits brings these ordinary objects to life is truly inspiring. Teresa and Alexander’s work is an exceptional example of how we can honor the lives of those who called this area their home and continue sharing their stories.” Those stories, according to the press release, evoke “contemplation of the complexities of a much longer, deep history of all of the lives lived along the banks of the creek.”
To learn even more about the piece, please check the relevant page on Waterloo Greenway’s website.