Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Reed Arts Week: Geographies

Here are some stills by Allie Tepper from the Reed Arts Week: Geographies show earlier this month.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A New Year Brings New Blogs

To follow Jacinda's new personal blog go to:
To follow Nancy's new personal blog go to:

Stay tuned for all updates for the EarthworksNearYou Project Posted at you guessed it:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Arne Erisoty's Sunset Over Spiral Jetty


From the website: "In dwindling twilight at an August day's end, these broad dark bands appeared in the sky for a moment, seen from Robert Smithson's Spiral Jettyon the eastern shore of Utah's Great Salt Lake. Outlined by rays of sunlight known as crepuscular rays, they are actually shadows cast by clouds near the distant western horizon, the setting Sun having disappeared from direct view behind them. The cloud shadows are parallel, but seem to converge in the distance because of perspective. Coiled in the salt-encrusted lake surface, Smithson's most famous earthwork provides a dramatic contrast to the converging lines. The Spiral Jetty was constructed in 1970, when the water level was unusually low and was completely submerged in a few years as the level rose. Now just above water again, it has spent much of its existence submerged in the briny lake."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Zine is HUGE!

I had no idea the Rural Route 2 zine would be so large! Thanks Travis - it looks great. You can get yours here.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Black Ball 2011

Our auction print for Black Ball 2011.

From the website: "On Friday, January 21 st , 2011: Come as the scandal du jour OR resurrect a golden oldie — think Britney, Lindsay, Eddie and Liz, babies over balconies, bad "home" movies, unfortunate shoplifting incidents and who is leaving who for whom!"

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Nancy Holt's Burial Project Part 3

Obviously I've been thinking a lot about Holt's Burial Project lately (and mapping projects in general) due to dedicating three posts to it. Elise and I laughed about it last week in terms of how we keep seeing it referred to in various publications but it's essentially the same 3-4 sentences paraphrased differently. I did find this new addition from The Map as Art: Contemporary Artists Explore Cartography which will merit another post in the not so far future. In addition to maps and photographs of the locales, Holt also included booklets. They "presented a series of maps, beginning with an overall map of the United States, zooming in on the poem's locations, indicated with a dot. The gesture of a personalized poem at the project's heart and the 'lived body' mapping that occurs via the trek to and from the poem make it obvious that this is meant to be a one-of-a-kind experience. The booklets with maps both enable, and are souvenirs of, the individual journeys Holt 'gave' to her friends."

Here is a photograph of one of the booklets - a crude representation contrasted with the one above (which is incidentally, the only map I ever find associated with this project).

Sunday, November 21, 2010

More on Nancy Holt's "Buried Poems" & Jan Estep's "Beneath the Surface of Language"

Elise found more information on the Buried Poems from this dated website:

"LOCATION: places such as an unnamed, uninhabited island in the Florida Keys, Arches National Monument Desert in Utah, and at the bottom of the Highlands of Navesink near Sandy Hook, New Jersey.

"Holt gave five people (Michael Heizer, Philip Leider, Carl Andre, John Perrault, and Robert Smithson) a packet of information which allowed them to find and dig up a poem. Each poem was buried in a location which was chosen based on their personality. Included in the packet were such items as maps, photos, very detailed directions for finding the poem, along with either postcards, cut out images, and maybe specimens of leaves or rocks from the site. The recipient would eventually understand his connection with the site. The poems were all buried in vacuum containers which would last long enough for them to dig it up whenever they happened to be near the area."

Of course I would like to know if any of these people ever found their poems - the idea of them sealed in vacuum containers is intriguing though anti-ephemeral just like the vast majority of American Land Art.

My search for more information brought me to Jan Estep's Beneath the Surface of Language. Estep spent two weeks at the Center for Land Use Interpretation residency program to create "a site-specific map/text/photo project featuring the 54-mile backcountry Silver Island Mountain Byway, a BLM-managed route near the Bonneville Speedway just outside of Wendover, Utah."

She comments on Nancy Holt's Buried Poems and John Baldessari's California Map Project - two of my favorite works in the genre of art and mapmaking.

See more of Estep's work here. Image above from Estep's Site #2.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

"Insecurity Zone" by Nikolaj Recke

Just discovered this video on youtube. It's painful to watch in some cases (just like I imagine Vito Acconci's Security Zone to be). The jetty is so difficult to walk on to begin with that I could not imagine doing it blindfolded.

The synopsis:
"A blindfolded walk on Spiral Jetty. In the summer of 2009 Nikolaj Recke visited one of the absolute masterpieces of Land Art, Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty (1971), located in Great Salt Lake in Utah. Blindfold, he went, with the help of instructions, all the way out of the spiral shaped and cliff-paved quay. The video paraphrase is a known recording of Smithson himself running off the quay immediately after its completion, by paraphrasing another canonical work from the period, Vito Acconci's Security Zone (1971), where the artist, blindfolded and hands tied behind his backs allowed himself to be led around the New York City pier area by a stranger. Insecurity Zone can be seen partly as a personal tribute to the two works, both as an unpretentious commentary to contemporary art's eternal attempt to move closer to art history. It depicts the history of art as a mental and physical spaced where it is difficult to find a foothold, all the time that we move in spirals, and it is not to determined whether one is led or blindfold.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Road to Spiral Jetty Gets an Upgrade (!)

".... Thanks to $18,000 from the Box Elder County Tourism Tax Advisory Board, road crews are currently reworking part of the Jetty road, especially the last two miles, which has, until now, been a solid bed of large, jagged basalt boulders. The rock-strewn road made even maintaining that stretch impossible for county equipment, according to Road Supervisor Bill Gilson. The county also hired C.A. Johnson Trenching out of Springville to bring in their quarter-million dollar rock grinder to turn the black boulders into much smaller stones. The grinder spent about three days churning up the roadway to the Jetty, leaving in its wake a softer and more manageable surface..."

Ellen Cook

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Our First Interview

rural route two box two eighty one

Travis Shaffer: At what point did the two of you meet / begin working as a collaborative?

Jacinda Russell: Nancy and I met in August 2001 at the University of Houston. We became good friends after I moved away from Texas in 2002. We took a three week road trip in the Summer of 2007 with my cat Oatmeal sharing the front seat. We traveled from Indianapolis through Minneapolis, North Dakota, Montana, Yellowstone, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. At the end of our trip, we visited Robert Morris’s Untitled (Reclamation Project) in Kent, Washington and decided that the next summer we would spend three weeks visiting all the major earthworks in the American West. Our work as collaborators began that summer and extends indefinitely.

Nancy Douthey: We were on a road trip together the summer of 2007 for three weeks driving cross-country from Indiana to Washington and along the way I’ll never forget the moment (I mean I can’t tell you where we were) but I remember saying “ We’re DOING IT!” and I committed myself. I had long been in love with these photographic images and the spoken experiences of professors that get passed down through art history classes. In the beginning it was all very romantic in my mind. It was the fantasy of the America West, part of the lure of space and time. standing still long enough for me to breath deep.

TS: As individuals does your work differ drastically from what you do as a collective? if so how?

ND: I approach my work very much the same way I approach the work I’ve done with Jacinda. I prefer the collaborative process– so for me this was very special to do it with her. To have these works carry conflict and challenge my own perceptions is typical to how I like to react and work with things. Having Jacinda to problem solve and learn and allow me to change my mind and get lost and found, well, I can’t imagine a better approach to my art. I learned more from this trip about my personal work than any other time. I believe we learn more together than we do apart and that is what is amazing about the collaborative process. It kicks your butt, it challenges everything. And if it is really great- you’re still best friends! Hi best friend!

JR: I’ve always focused on the object (as self-portrait, as memory, as narrative, as photograph, as sculpture, as installation) and that is apparent in many of the works in 3 weeks, 6 earthworks, 1 Portable Studio and ALL that lies in between. I bury objects from my past at each of the locations. They function as inventory when documented in the gravel driveway at the Thunderbird Hotel in Marfa, Texas or as sculpture when presented in a gallery. I’ve made artist’s books since graduate school so that isn’t a different avenue that I have pursued. In that regard, my work has not changed but working with Nancy has allowed me to introduce performance as a means of expression. The Burial of Three People, Two Places, and One Time Period: Performative Actions marks the first time I’ve delved into this territory. It has challenged me to work in public (or even outside as this is the first project I’ve ever been involved with that takes places outdoors). Last summer I spent three and a half months floating Styrofoam cakes in pristine bodies of water and I am thoroughly convinced this project would not have been successful if I hadn’t worked with Nancy the summer before.

TS: Humor and playfulness play a large roll in your project. In your statement you explain that “humor is one way we enter into these works when we want to make serious commentary rather than being confrontational. It is our way of discussing the political and often difficult issues associated with them: gender, economic elitism, destruction and permanence of the land.”What relationship, if any, do you draw between your artistic approach to difficult/potentially dry issues and contemporary satirists like Jon Stewart, and Stephen Colbert?

ND: “Part of the thing with comedy is that it’s always been effective in that if there’s tension there, ultimately, it brings us together, it makes things more comfortable.” Vince Vaughn I’m quoting Vince Vaughn right now because I’ve been thinking about this uproar over the “gay” joke in the upcoming movie “Dilemma” –I’ve been reading about it – and found myself completely relating to what Vaughn was saying. As this issue rides the same wave in time as the Stewart/Cobert rally I can’t separate them right now. It is the relationship that people can say things that create change, they can do things that create change, and I think we forget that we have the power to do that. I Stewart and Cobert creating a joke, but the joke is very serious. The result of the joke is that we are all laughing and thinking – oh my god, I wasn’t sure this was even possible, I wasn’t even sure people were getting out of their houses to say anything, I thought they did it all on the computer…So back to the art of it: If no one is going to address the absurdity of the “earthworks movement” the problems or rather the questions that stem from them, then I’m probably not interested. I need the conflict – I want to deal with the double standards, the out of wack economic proportions of support, the gender politics, and what better part of art history to play with those ideas than the earthworks movement. Especially now when all of the sudden we are thinking about land and “green” in this new way – which isn’t new. I guess the “new” part of it is the way we are going to use it as a marketing tool to make money. And then again that isn’t new either. To answer the question directly, my relationship to the ways of Stewart and Colbert, I hope I can parallel their efforts in my own work – in my own way. We all seem to be playing on the same team along with the likes of Lucille Ball and Borat.

TS: Like much of contemporary art your work hinges upon (or at least addresses) specific works of the past, i.e. earthworks, Ruscha, Wayne Thiebaud. What is your inspiration for this, and how much do you feel the “insider” perspective impacts the ability for viewers to relate to your project?

JR: I will quote Ed Ruscha right now and say, “I’m not really a photographer.” I grew up in a household that emphasized mixed media as an art form (my father is a painter and assemblage artist). I never felt like I made work that only fits into the realm of photography. Yes, the insider perspective is important and hopefully our elaborate titles draw the viewer into understanding the subject a little better.

ND: I think they are the inspiration or the ideas we have about them and their work. And we’re allowing ourselves to bounce from that. We interact as though they really are what we know of them from historical documentations and stories and of course all of these fragments combined together of truths and lies mold into an imaginary friend that I call “Ed Ruscha” or “Michael Heizer”. In fact Mike and I do group therapy together on Thursday afternoons and take smoke breaks leaning against our shotguns. They are heroic figures in a parental kind of way to me so to speak – they are teaching us as we look at what they did and are still doing – and I think that sets them up for us to rebel against – harass – question – critique – in a harsher way than when an actual piece of work is being realized. But now we can critique that work in a different context given time and space – and maybe we can find out something about our selves by doing something different or the same – learn. And while I write this I bet we’re still kind of doing it all the same even in our rebellion. The question I might ask myself while looking at one of these people would be – why am I in love with these men that blow up things and have egos the size of Texas – or wish they had Texas to use as an art space all for themselves? Okay well – maybe if I were being honest my answer might be– I like that kind of person – they went out there and created a work and made something happen that can be seen from space! I’m not just interested in the physical change of the land created through these earthworks but the concept of change through social and psychological levels.

JR: It has always been a joke between my close friends that I have a California aesthetic about my work. If you combined Ed Ruscha (his conceptual approach, artist’s books, love of swimming pools) and Wayne Thiebaud (his use of seductive & desirous objects and dessert) would it equal Jacinda Russell? I have spent the last year trying to answer this question. As far as where my interest in earthworks comes from, I’ve always been fascinated by the journey – the road trip, the path that takes one away from the traditional art space usually involving a “story.” I am from the West and these artworks are intrinsically tied to the land I know and love. I’m interested in decay and deterioration – all of these things merge together and inspire me to search for these environmental pieces that usually require getting lost to find them.

TS: Though we here at rr2 use the term “rural” a bit loosely (Houston is hardly rural), how does working outside of the major art centers (Chicago / LA / New York) affect your practice?

JR: I am deeply affected by living in a rural community. Residing in Indiana is so far from what I know yet the biggest advantage is proximity to places I’ve never been or cities that weren’t as accessible living in the Pacific Northwest (Chicago, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New York, Minneapolis, etc.). Yes, it’s cheaper but I continually yearn for something bigger so I leave constantly – making art pilgrimages on a regular basis.

ND: I like to think that because I have spent most of my time at the following address growing up: Rt. 14 Box 375. I qualify as RURAL wherever I go. I think this is the hardest question for me considering I’ve never worked in those major art centers. But I’m thrilled to hear there is more than one. I think I can do things (like this project) that would never be possible if I was trying to have a life in one of these other areas just based on economics. I wouldn’t have the same support or the space that I feel I have in Houston. I think of places like Clemson, South Carolina that Jacinda and I just went to for the second show of this project and all I see are the endless possibilities and freedom in those kinds of towns. I think Houston has that kind of opportunity, that same feel for me. I think this question is something I will be asking along with the next one to artists that live here and in smaller areas. I’m not sure that we all have the same opportunities to live in one of these three places – and I think for many this is not a choice most have the privilege of making when considering survival and making art. I love Houston, H-Town is where it’s at for me and I’m thrilled to be here making work without a major struggle to survive.

TS: Do you see your role as an artist differently if/when you are outside of that structure, or do you in spite of location feel as though you are able to still operate within it?

ND: The reality for me is this – I’m not sure if anyone is really outside of the structure any more. I think technology is the structure or if not – it is definitely changing it. I think this is a question we were considering when we decided to create a live blog and tweet. It was about giving access and being accessible. I think we were able to accomplish both and that means something more than just functioning in a specific location.

JR: Yes I feel like I am still able to operate within it though I do miss the larger art community that simply doesn’t exist in Muncie, Indiana.

for another perspective on an answer to this question, see this essay Jacinda wrote in Art Lies:]

I’ll keep this simple… what’s next (as a pair, as individuals)?

JR: We are heading to the UK! We want to investigate a few avenues: the places where Hamish Fulton and Richard Long made their walking pieces and the ancient monolithic structures that inspired many of the earthwork artists in the 1970s. I have always envisioned the earthworks project in three phases. The first was the American West. The second is the United Kingdom and the third is making our own earthwork in Australia.

ND: I keep thinking we will do something that is relaxing – a beach vacation or something – but then Jacinda would go out and float a cake and I would want to do some synchronized swimming and we would be back to work.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Rural Route 2 Box 281: Premier Issue featuring Jeff Nilan and US! [Pink + Blue]


RR 2 Box 281 is a bi-monthly zine dedicated to photo-based contemporary art. Each of the six yearly issues will be focused on the work of two living artists working and living outside of traditional art centers. The title RR 2 Box 281 comes from the childhood address of the zine's editor Travis Shaffer. Travis and his wife/ co- editor, Angela, grew up in neighboring rural communities in southwestern Pennsylvania. Travis is currently an Instructor of Photography at the University of Kentucky and Angela teaches high-school art in the small town of Lancaster, KY. Through Digital and hard copy dissemination, RR2 seeks to increase the exposure of artists' working and living in the rural settings, thereby creating a dialog around relationships between contemporary art, regional identity and rurality.

Six times a year a new issue of RR 2 Box 281 will be released as both a free .pdf file (to be viewed online or downloaded via issuucom) and a hand bound hard copy zine (to be sent via standard post). The hard-copy zine will be 15$/ issue, or 60$ for a yearly subscription.




Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hamish Fulton's "Slowalk"

Hamish Fulton has an exhibition in NYC right now. Fredericka sent Nancy and me this photograph that bears resemblance to our workshop exercise at Clemson (and it's orange).

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A List on the Burial/Artist Correspondence Project

Sarah Hobbs, Untitled (Perfectionist)

Who would I send correspondence to after burying an object for in the UK? My initial thoughts include:

1. Nancy Holt (address = check)
2. Ed Ruscha (duh = address = check)
3. Richard Misrach (address = check)
4. Suzaan Boettger (email address - will need to find physical address)
5. Fredericka Hunter and Ian Glennie (address = check)
6. Michael Heizer (need to find address)
7. Rebecca Solnit (will need to find her address).
8. Lucy Lippard (will need to obtain mailing address)

How uncomfortable would some of these people feel to receive this correspondence from strangers (Ruscha, Heizer and Solnit would fit the "stranger" category as I have interacted with the rest at one point in my life)? But do I really care? Yes... but will I do it anyway? We all know the answer to that. How many lists will I make before then? Will I save them? Will I count them? Will I photograph them? Will I dig myself into a hole? No pun intended. No I'll keep thinking about it until it's "perfect" as fortunate or unfortunate as that may be.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Nancy Holt's Burial Project

Nancy Holt, The Last Map Used to Locate Buried Poem Number 4 for Michael Heizer, 1969-71

Nancy Holt, Buried Poem Number 4 for Michael Heizer The Double O, 1971 & Buried Poem Number 4 for Michael Heizer, Dark Angel through Double O Arch, 1971

From Phaidon's Land and Environmental Art:

"These poems were private artworks. Holt dedicated the poems to five different people (Michael Heizer, Philip Leider, Carl Andre, John Perrault, and Robert Smithson) and chose the remote sites according to certain physical, spatial, and atmospheric qualities which would evoke a particular person for her. The poems were buried in vacuum containers, and the recipient received a map which contained all the necessary information for the poem to be found and dug up. The map provided Holt with both a physical location and characteristics which she could relate to a specific person, as well as a symbolic space in which to construct the meaning presented in the poems. Along with the instructions on how to find the site she included details of the history, geology, flora, and fauna of the site as well as maps, pictures, and specimens of rocks and leaves."

I have been thinking a lot about Holt's Burial/Mapping project recently as a way to incorporate artist correspondence with interring objects. We are working hard researching the second leg of our journey and I of course, want to continue exploring the object in remote locales. I am not interested in writing poems or cataloging the flora and fauna of the environment but I AM intrigued by responding to something within that place and referring it to the artists who I will send a letter to. The artists will be ones inspirational to our project yet there will be no response anticipated.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Artist Correspondence: Our First Response

Lucy Lippard wrote us back! She wants to see our project! Yay! Obviously the trick is to have Nancy write all the artist correspondence as I tend to scare everyone away (or they sic the director of their foundation on us based on a letter I wrote to James Turrell).

"Hi, sorry so long answering but was out of town yet again. Love the Three weeks piece, and am curious about what the images are. Can you send me some? Thanks, Lucy."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I stole this yesterday...

Elise and I have been researching up a storm lately. In the next week or two... the results!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Clemson Part 6: Bonus Features

You know when Nancy and Jacinda get together there are always "bonus features." This trip they featured multiple trips to Nick's and a boat ride to the Experimental Forest with Anderson. First Nick's. Here's Andrew telling Nancy "the story" (a mere minute of 15 in which Nancy was sitting on the edge of her seat the entire time):

If I ever hear Van Halen's Panama again, I'm going to pull a Christina Hung by leaping over the bar, ripping everyone's tabs off the wall and running into the bathroom to lock the door behind me emerging a few minutes later remarking that they were "a little damp." I think we heard that song 25 times which was 25 times more than I ever needed to hear it since oh... 1984. Nancy, Sarah, and Zane:

Andrew, Jacinda and Todd:

Andrew, Zane and Christina:

Roar! I was a little opposed to seeing my least favorite color EVERYWHERE in Clemson. The tigers on the other were fine.

Anderson bestowed Nancy and me with the greatest gift: a trip to the Experimental Forest on his boat! Leaving the dock in front of Anderson's house:

JR and Anderson:

A little red earth:

The beach near the Experimental Forest shortly before seeing the bald eagle:

Nancy barefoot (a la Sun Tunnels):

Anderson skipping rocks (Nancy skipped her first rock ever this trip!)

The Sultan of Zanzibar:

Nancy driving the boat FAST:

On the way back:

Clemson Part 5: The Exhibition at Lee Gallery

Here are some very low-resolution and bordering on out of focus images (Anderson is sending me some better ones next week). The day before peeking through the window for the first time at the burial wall:

Yay! The polaroids made it in the show (they were missing from the Texas Gallery exhibition).

Images at the main entryway:

Detail of the big wall:

In the back corner:

Artists' Books:

The objects are tucked over on the left as well as the videos:

Nancy and I have discussed our work as a pair on three occasions, each time with a different approach. This time was most successful. We eliminated the chronology and chose one image each from the major locations. We also decided not to talk about the history behind the pieces for the first time but came to the conclusion afterward that we need to say something about them (i.e. where they are located, who made them, etc.). We will have that opportunity at our next talk on 12th March in Atlanta.

Clemson Part 4: The Workshop

Participants: Ashley Wood, Kelli Butler, Brooke Buckley, Alan Babcock, Gene Ellenburg, Zane Logan, Tom Schram, Todd Stewart, Anthony Collamati, Christina Hung, Sarah Butler, and Anderson Wrangle.

Location: Clemson University Botanical Gardens (photograph by Anderson Wrangle)

Exercise #1: Take a walk in complete silence with one other person for 30 minutes. Pay attention to sound and group dynamics.

Photographs taken on the walks by various participants. Christina Hung and Anthony Collamati (photo by Anthony).

Christina and Anthony returning from their walk in silence.

Photographs from Zane & Ashley's walk (later joined by Brooke and Kelli). Photos by Zane Logan.

Anderson, Nancy, and Jacinda's walk.

The wasp nest in the tree that I wanted to point out to everyone but did not because they had already passed it and I didn't want to break the "code of silence."

We returned to Alan rolling down the hill.

Todd filmed by Anderson (he arrived late and spent his walk in silence looking for everyone else). Photo by Zane.

While everyone started their walk, Anderson, Nancy and I unpacked all the loot plus a much needed cooler full of water. These were the items that we collected at the yard sale as well as additional ones provided by Anderson (rope, extension cord, ladder, tarp, rider's crop, etc.)

We covered it up because it was a hot day and we didn't want the metal objects to get too much sun.

Exercise #2: Pairs of people choose a few objects on the tarp and they have three minutes to create a sculpture. One of the people in the group must use their body in the final product. After the three minutes are up, they return their objects and have two minutes to create a sculpture. Repeat and then one minute sculptures (in the style of Erwin Wurm). Time begins (photo by Anderson).

Anthony and Christina:

Ashley & Zane:

Alan and Christina:

Alan and Gene:

Brooke and Kelli:

Ashley and Brooke:

Tom, Todd and Sarah:

Todd, Gene, and Tom:

Zane and Kelli:

Anderson Videotaping through the Christmas wreath:

Exercise #3: Walk in slow motion toward your partner, tell them a secret, walk in slow motion backwards looking them in the eye.

The End (but not before a game of tug o' war with Anderson's rope): Gene, Alan, Anthony and Jacinda (by Anderson Wrangle).