Thursday, February 7, 2008

Mud, Salt Crystals, Rock, Water

It's always a relief when art comes to me in this project. It's only happened a few times, but always, it seems, serving the purpose art ought to -- giving room for breath and reflection on beauty and some piece of human condition...



Mud, salt crystals, rocks, water...

The Spiral Jetty was created by Robert Smithson the year before I was born. An article was written in the times in 2002, when the sculpture began to emerge from water --

The most famous work of American art that almost nobody has ever seen in the flesh is Robert Smithson's ''Spiral Jetty'': 6,650 tons of black basalt and earth in the shape of a gigantic coil, 1,500 feet long, projecting into the remote shallows of the Great Salt Lake in Utah, where the water is rosé red from algae.

I studied the work in college.
I was surprised to see it in the Times yesterday.

It seems that oil drillers want to drill nearby. Art lovers are concerned that this will disrupt the 38 year old masterpiece.

Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, issued a statement calling the jetty “a significant cultural site” and saying that the trust was “deeply concerned about the potential harm that energy development could bring” to it.

Sometime we feel things completely out of kilter with what we think we are going to...
I'm annoyed. I wonder if there were 900 letters written in Brooklyn -- I wonder if there were 900 letters written in Alaska...

Traveling cross-country in 1992 - not long after studying the Spiral Jetty in Art History -- I went to Utah. I hadn't really planned to go to Utah -- actually it was a trip created to plan much of nothing; I was traveling alone with my dog, camping and doing whatever I felt like from one day to the next. I ate a lot of spicy cheddar cheese, I remember -- I took a lot of pictures. Anyway -- I'd spent about three weeks in the four corners, and I was overcome with land-lock. I figured any where named after a lake must be wetter than where I was. So I drove up to Utah. When I got there, all there was was a huge valley of salt. It might have been beautiful if I hadn't have been so disappointed.

When Smithson built the Spiral Jetty there were deserted oil rigs in his landscape. They have since disintegrated -- but they were there. Anywhere people gave up, they will go back to now. Now we go back in desperation...

The idea that people would make a choice against oil drilling for art -- well,
I'm not sure if I think they should --
but in the scope of the dangers we are ignoring -- I'm quite sure they won't.

Environmental art is supposed to interact with nature, with time, with people and what goes on around it. It is not supposed to be in a museum. Not that I'm for oil drilling at all -- but somehow this preservation movement seems contra-intent to me.

And in a way, disrespectful for all the real death and sickness we are causing. So typically human and narcissistic that we should be concerned with the preserving of what we have put atop the earth -- in this time when we are so damaging the earth itself... damaging the very course of nature...

I'm teaching Frankenstein right now -- butchering it, perhaps -- people keep telling me what a mediocre novel it is. I don't think so -- I think that Shelly is talking about creating and exploration and refusal of responsibility in a way that is entirely important.

1 comment:

mamacentric said...

God, it's beautiful. As my six-year-old knows, spirals are my favorite design. I think that drilling, whether it destroys art or endangers polar bears, it criminal and we need to invest more-- much more-- in alternative energy sources. I think The People need to make it happen.