Sunday, June 28, 2009

Five Hours at Double Negative - Mormon Mesa, Nevada

The directions on the Internet are very difficult to decipher - we ended up in the wrong location several times. As soon as we put down the map and used common sense by following the rim of the mesa, we found the earthwork. If someone ever writes "less traveled road" as a choice to follow, you are screwed. All the roads are less traveled - just don't drive off the cliff in the process. There could have been a Thelma and Louise repeat here. Be very careful (and bring lots of water). Also, we never found any sand on the road, an oft described feature of the drive to this earthwork. All the sand was located in the sculpture and we didn't even need a four wheel drive for this portion of our trip.

It was over 100 degrees and we somehow managed to spend five hours out in the heat, taking several breaks in the car to chug water and soak up the A/C. Hello sunburns on top of sunburns - we wore 55 sunblock and still were scorched as we kept sweating it off.

There is no way we could ever know what this work is like without being there. The scale is so vast and unable to be described in photographs, it needs to be experienced in person. Forty years after this sculpture was created, the degradation does not affect the monumentality. It is incredible and unlike any of the earthworks we've seen thus far. The space in between both cuts is like it's own artwork - sand falling down the cliffs with sagebrush clinging to survive. Upon climbing down the SW cut, we encountered lizards and bottle rockets (no snakes).

After seeing erosion and time at play in Bryce Canyon, this was a very different experience to see the striated rocks blown from the crevasses. The main element of passing time are the rocks that have fallen since 1969 and now cover the ground inside the sculpture. One does not think of the elements of destruction when viewing photographs of Double Negative but that is an important aspect when visiting in person.

On our way out, we encountered an installation whose text encouraged us to protect the land. After viewing Heizer's piece, we felt a reminder of humanity's destruction upon the environment and each other. Our only regret is that we were not able to drive to the other side and view the NE cut and see the space where we spent most of our day contemplating from the other side.

No comments: