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Decolonizing Land Art
“In the mid-1990s, I called a talk I gave in Marfa “Land Art in the Rear View Mirror,” because by then I had gone on down the road. Cultural geography and the politics of land use have replaced land art in my windshield over the years I’ve been living in the West. My views haven’t changed because I have less respect for the older work, but because the better I know the New West the more my attention is claimed by peripheral vision—by the side-of-the-road shows, by life on the land. I argue now for the nearby, a microview of land and art, grassroots connections rather than macro pronouncements. In fact, I’ve come to the reluctant conclusion that much land art is a pseudo rural art made from a metropolitan headquarters, a kind of colonization in itself. It offers an antidote to an urban landscape crammed with art and visual competition. In a rural setting, however, land art would more often entail subtractions (of “ranchettes” dotting the open landscape) than additions. The land art we know best in rural New Mexico is abandoned adobes, trophy homes standing out like sore thumbs in this beige landscape, and aging vehicles nobody can afford to haul away […]
Significant objects have their place in the art world. It remains to be seen if they still have a place in land art. There is a point where artists too must take some responsibility for the things and places they love, a point at which the colonization of magnificent scenery gives way to a more painfully focused vision of a fragile landscape and its bewildered inhabitants. The land is not separate from the often harsh realities of lives lived upon and around it. A land art in the New West could acknowledge the rough edges as well as the romance. It could be integrated into a cultural landscape, which is a forever changing production featuring vegetation, wildlife, water, and human agency. A vernacular land art might include commemoration that looks to the smaller scale, land-based notions of nature, remembering small farms and common lands, the disappearing histories of places and ecosystems.”
-Lucy Lippard, Undermining: A Wild Ride through Land Use, Politics, and Art in the Changing West
Essay 1: Choose any two works from our lecture on Land Art that complicate issues of colonization or are plainly problematic to issues of decolonization or ways in which the land is impacted by a sculpture’s placement, site location, installation or maintenance (or lack thereof). Draw from Lucy Lippard’s quote as you see fit. Create a thesis statement and clear supporting evidence and elaboration.
Decolonizing Land Art
“In the mid-1990s, I called a talk I gave in Marfa “Land Art in the Rear View Mirror,” because by then I had gone on down the road. Cultural geography and the politics of land use have replaced land art in my windshield over the years I’ve been living in the West.