february 16 / 2009

I began the lesson on Land Art by placing some images into discussion. Michael Heizer's intrusive and destructive interventions were compared with Walter de Maria's installation from the Mexican desert. In both cases the vast financial resources were obvious.

Walter de Maria accompanied his journey outside the gallery space with a touristic and commercial undertone, because Dia Art Foundation created a travel agency to deal exclusively with visiting the site. James Turrell and Christo entered the same category, as their installations were supported by substantial funding and managerial efforts.

Through these examples I wanted to underline the wish of these artists to go out of the gallery on a physical level. Initially, these gestures seemed to exit the art world. By their choice of working in natural environments, the dominant role of the gallery as the very place where artist's objects are exhibited was placed into question. However, in the end these gestures are recuperated by the institutional and economic circuit, becoming expensive art productions in their turn.

I had brough from home three square mirrors (10 cm x 10 cm), because I wanted us to rebuild a work by Robert Smithson. We went outside the high school with a palette knife and a plastic bag and we gathered some sand and pebbles. Then we came back into the class, where we would rebuild two Earthworks.

Besides working in nature, those who were connected to Land Art also exhibited inside the gallery, but this time it was about materials they had brought from natural environments that they had arranged in a display. In Smithson's case the connection with Minimalism is obvious on the aesthetic level, because his introduction of the mirrors induces the aesthetic shock of perfect materials arranged in geometric shapes. Moreover, the optical illusions produced by the mirrors are linked to the Minimalist interest in the methods of modulating tridimensional space.

Richard Long also brings natural material to the gallery. Just as Smithson does, he also operates all kinds of manipulations and arrangements in space, using the same geometric criteria. Nevertheless, Long has a more powerful attraction towards the circle than to the square, and often refuses to associate industrially produced objects to natural materials.