Thursday, April 4, 2013, 12:30–1:15 p.m.
In the late 1960s, a number of artists began conceiving of the land as a medium for their work. Located outside the confines of the gallery and often far from the conveniences of a city, these works challenged many paradigms: from finished creation to ongoing process; from indoor viewing to outdoor experiences; and from the enclosed studio, learned art practice, and the gallery and museum structure to the expansive landscape, extensive research, and government land trusts. We will examine works by Walter De Maria, Michael Heizer, Robert Smithson, James Turrell, and others from a variety of angles, and discuss the process and expense of creating land art (involving consultation with NASA or taxpayer money, in two examples) and maintaining works that are meant to exist forever (ongoing preservation or debates with the Utah Department of Natural Resources, for instance), although few will actually experience them in person. We will consider the quality of the experience of the work, from the ground in the form of a pilgrimage, in photo or film documentation, and from satellites. We will also look for historical precedent for this type of practice and experience: ancient ruins, religious sites, and even amusement parks. We will hear from people who have visited, or tried to visit, these sites, through video, photography, and quotation.
Molleen Theodore is the Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Fellow in the Education Department at the Yale University Art Gallery, a critic at the Yale School of Art, and a lecturer in the Department of Education at The Museum of Modern Art. She received her PhD from the CUNY Graduate Center in 2010 with her dissertation, "Beyond 'Meaningless Work': The Art of Walter De Maria, 1960–1977." She is currently supervising a student-curated exhibition of works from the Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection, Fifty Works for Fifty States.
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