Longitudes

Text on the film programme 'Stake in the Mud, A Hole in the Reel: Land Art’s Expanded Field, 1968–2008', Art&Co #5 (Winter 2009)

Coinciding with the conclusion of the screenings of the film programme 'A Stake in the Mud, A Hole in the Reel: Land Art’s Expanded Field, 1968–2008' last October, Latitudes was asked to write a text on the films for Art&Co, which has just been published in their Winter 09 issue num. 5 – see pages above (click on the image to zoom in the text).




Following an excerpt of the original text (which totals over 2,000 words):

"(...) Latitudes developed the film programme 'A Stake in the Mud, A Hole in the Reel: Land Art’s Expanded Field, 1968–2008' at the invitation of the Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo in Mexico City. Premiering there in April 2008 as part of the Tamayo’s 'Panorámica' series, 'A Stake in the Mud...' has since toured to several venues throughout Europe within an auditorium-based screening format, presenting historical works alongside those produced in the last six years.

What were the possibilities for augmenting preordained definitions of so-called Land Art through relation with contemporary practices, and social and environmental ecologies? Though the cycle had its germination in our work on a publication – 'Land, Art: A Cultural Ecology Handbook' (2006) – the dimension of film clearly proposed additional sets of concerns. The title of the programme was drawn from words of Robert Smithson in which he speculates on the site and film of perhaps the most renowned – and certainly most photogenic – of the works associated with Land Art, 'Spiral Jetty' (1970). It attempts to surmise the programme’s dual concern with sheer materiality and physical processes together with the lacunae of filmic representation. Where artists’ use of film or video might appear as a solution to the problem of how to represent something that would otherwise be inaccessible (an intervention in a remote area, for example) or otherwise ephemeral, it apparently creates another – what, or where, does the artwork consist of? Accordingly, what is the status of each film: informal artifact, ‘making of’ movie, documentary, autonomous fiction or something else?


(...)Accordingly, the programme enhanced several ‘Smithsonian’ dialogues across time, but rarely was the magnetism openly declared or intentional. Included in part two of the programme, 'Zênite invertido/Inverted Zenith' (2005) by Brazilian-artist Thiago Rocha Pitta portrayed a mesmerising vortex of water in a metal vessel which slowly diminishes in volume before a steady resurgence. The work supports a tacit mythical connection to Spiral Jetty and its own narratives of mirroring and reversal, but also to the cosmic whirlpools evoked in Edgar Allan Poe’s tale ‘A Descent into the Maelström’. A concern with remoteness, together with the powerful allure of specific sites, threaded throughout the cycle. The itinerary took in the sewers of New York City and Vienna (through works by Gordon Matta-Clark and Hans Schabus), the deserts of the US (Mario Garcia Torres or Walter De Maria), high mountain zones (Ibon Aranberri, Maria Thereza Alves), as well as the paradisiac beaches of Taveuni (Nikolaj Recke), for example. Territorial sculptural acts (Barry Flanagan or Walter de Maria, for example) were encountered, as well as displacements more legible as social or political actions (in the work by Francis Alÿs). Absurd gestures (Damián Ortega) met touristic views of natural phenomena (Nancy Holt & Smithson) while perspectival experiments (Jan Dibbets) greeted ecological remarks (Donna Conlon)."

'Mono Lake' (1968/2004) by Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt is one of the films included in the first part of the programme which we just learned was acquired in 2007 by the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid. Here an acquisition entry on the piece (in Spanish). 

Full article available for download from Latitudes' writing archive here.

Further documentation such as hand programmes, press reviews, adverts, etc. here; Photodocumentation of the screenings here.


Art&Co is a bilingual Spanish/English quarterly magazine published by the Asociación Amigos de ARCO


Editorial Director: Ángela Molina
Contact: [email protected] or (+34) 917 225 102
More info
: http://www.arco.ifema.es (see 'Publications')

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Founded in 2005 by Max Andrews and Mariana Cánepa Luna, Latitudes is a curatorial office based in Barcelona, Spain, that works internationally across contemporary art practices.

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