I think earth is the material with the most potential because it is the original source material.
Die größte und erstaunlichste Skulptur der Welt liegt in der Mitte des Nirgendwo in der Wüste im Südosten von Nevada. Michael Heizer arbeitet seit den frühen 1970er Jahren daran, 2020 soll sie fertig und für Besucher geöffnet sein.
Die nächste geteerte Straße ist etwa eine Stunde entfernt, durch das Gelände sollte schon eine Bahnlinie zum Transport des gesamten Atommülls der USA zur Lagerung in den nahegelegenen Yucca-Bergen und Straßen zum Transport von MX Missiles gebaut werden. Heizer hätte seine Arbeit eher selbst zerstört als sie von solchen Verkehrswegen in unmittelbarer Nähe der City zerstört zu sehen. 2015 erklärte Barack Obama knapp 285.000 Hektar der umliegenden, kargen und weitgehend unbewohnten Gegend zum Basin and Range Nationalmonument.
Michael Heizer hat eine Vorliebe für große, schwere, eigentlich unmögliche Arbeiten. Vor einigen Jahren wurde er gefeiert für „Levitated Mass“, ein 340 Tonnen schwerer Stein aus einem Steinbruch in Kalifornien, der 170 Kilometer weit transportiert wurde, um im Garten des Los Angeles County Museum of Art installiert zu werden.
Eine andere seiner Arbeiten ist Double Negative, (1970, eines der ersten großen Land-Art-Kunstwerke überhaupt) anhand der man eine kleine leise Idee bekommen kann, welche immensen Erd- und Gesteinsmengen für die City bewegt wurden. Für den rechtwinkligen Einschnitt in die Erde von Double Negative mit den Maßen 9 auf 15 auf 457 Meter wurden 218.000 Tonnen Gestein bewegt.
Die City ist mehr als zwei Kilometer lang und etwa 400 Meter breit, Strukturen sind bis fast 25 Meter hoch.
Für seine Arbeit zahlt er einen hohen Preis, in jeder Hinsicht:
With more construction to be done, including an access road and a possible visitors center, the sculpture won’t be unveiled for a few years. Even so, “I can die today knowing it is basically done,” he said. Wraithlike now, slow to move, but energized by his recent successes, he seemed gentler than I remembered, more circumspect and wistful. He nodded hello when I arrived and replied to a casual “How’s it going?” with some news I had already heard, that Mary had moved out. He choked over the words, bowing his head slightly so the wide brim of the cowboy hat obscured his face. There is no small talk with him. We stood together in silence for a few seconds, listening to the wind blow through the piñon and poplars.
He led me into his studio and pulled heavy stacks of technical drawings and other preparatory materials for the Gagosian sculptures from overstuffed flat files. “This is serious engineering,” he said. “Mary did all of this. She made all these stencils; she put her genius into this work. This is her work, too. Look at these drawings. They’re amazing. She did all of this before she escaped her husband.”
“ ‘City,’ ” he said, “ate her up and spit her out. Now she hates it.”
I went off to explore the sculpture, hiking up new mounds, looking down onto what resemble empty arenas or dirt tracks, their outlines cut at sharp angles by crisp concrete curbs, and gazing up at giant walls of textured dirt, like lava flows. Light and shadows passed over the valley. I noticed echoes of some of the manufactured shapes in the mountains.
“In the end I’m lucky it took this long,” Mike said when I returned. “Over the years we saw how the thing stood the test of time, what didn’t work, what had to be rebuilt, what happened when the valley flooded, in different climates. It’s like a handmade object now, erased, redone, adjusted, not just fabricated. It’s part of nature, here for the millennia.”
“I stuck with it because I started it,” he added, answering a question I didn’t ask. “I’m surprised I don’t hate it, too. Even with all the stuff happening to me, I’m happy now, actually happy.”
He mulled over that thought for a second and smiled. “It’s about time.”
“City” is a monumental architectonic work … and a layout informed by pre-Columbian ritual cities like Teotihuacan. … “City” is made almost entirely from rocks, sand, and concrete that Heizer has mined and mixed on site. The use of valueless materials is strategic, a hedge against what he sees as inevitable future social unrest. “My good friend Richard Serra is building out of military-grade steel,” he says. “That stuff will all get melted down. Why do I think that? Incans, Olmecs, Aztecs—their finest works of art were all pillaged, razed, broken apart, and their gold was melted down. When they come out here to fuck my ‘City’ sculpture up, they’ll realize it takes more energy to wreck it than it’s worth.”…
“City” reflects the singular, scathing, sustained, self-critical vision of a man who has marshalled every possible resource and driven himself to the brink of death in the hope of accomplishing it. “It takes a very specific audience to like this stupid primordial shit I do,” Heizer told me. “I like runic, Celtic, Druidic, cave painting, ancient, preliterate, from a time back when you were speaking to the lightning god, the ice god, and the cold-rainwater god. That’s what we do when we ranch in Nevada. We take a lot of goddam straight-on weather.”
Glenn Lowry, the director of the Museum of Modern Art, in New York, says, “ ‘City’ is one of the most important works of art to have been made in the past century. Its scale and ambition and resolution are simply astonishing.” Its unseen status has made the place almost mythic—it’s art-as-rumor, people say—and has turned the artist, who became known for chasing off unwanted visitors and yanking film out of cameras, into a legend, or a “Scooby Doo” villain. Heizer says that he simply does not want his sculpture judged before it’s finished.
“My work, if it’s good, it’s gotta be about risk,” he says. “If it isn’t, it’s got no flavor. No salt in it.” He produced his first significant pieces—burials, dispersals, pits, motorcycle drawings in a dry lake bed—in the shadow of the Vietnam War, after being summoned before the draft board and narrowly avoiding service. “Thinking you’re going to die makes you get radical in a hurry,” he says. In “City,” Heizer gave himself a near-impossible task in a forbiddingly isolated place with no obvious means of support. Physical danger was inevitable.
“My rib cage is blown out,” he said. “My feet don’t work. Every bone in me is torqued and twisted.” Since the mid-nineties, he has been afflicted with severe chronic neural and respiratory problems, likely stemming from exposures during the sculpture’s construction; treating the pain led to a morphine addiction, which he hid for years. “Then I did all this shit to my brain,” he went on. “Burned twice and almost dead. Crashed bikes. I’m surprised I’m still alive—I bet everyone is.” “City” ruined him, he says—destroyed his personal life, his health, and his finances—but he is determined to finish it if he can. …
Now he feels like Sleeping Beauty, awakened from a needle dream. At first, he says, “my brains were gone. I couldn’t hail a cab. I got an iPhone—I’d never seen one. They’re bringing me into the modern world slowly, a step at a time. I’m pretty primitive. I got a long way to go.” The biggest surprise has been to discover that he isn’t the pariah he believed himself to be. “I pissed off everybody and insulted everybody,” he told me. “I got ’em all. And nobody likes me, or they didn’t. Now everybody likes me, now I’m accepted. Which is hilarious to come back and find out that I’m O.K.”
Ich glaube, die ‚City‘ ist noch viel unfotografierbarer als z.B. die Alhambra. Ich glaube, daß man – sich selbst ziemlich klein fühlend – mittendrin stehen muß und den weiten Himmel und die Berge sehen und die Geräusche des Windes hören und daß jedes Wetter, jede Tageszeit und jedes Licht alles wieder ganz anders, unbunt oder farbig und immer neu und alt zugleich aussehen läßt.
Dennoch einige Bilder für einen ersten Eindruck:
YOU shouldn’t try calling on Mr. Heizer uninvited. We were talking on the telephone a while back. “A guy called from France,“ he told me. “He was complaining: ‚It’s not done yet? How long is it going to take.‘ And I said I was sorry that I hadn’t got it done for him. My God, you don’t go into a painter’s studio unless he wants you there. I got called by a travel agent who asked where the bus stop was. The project has involved a time reference the art world clearly can’t understand.“ …
“It’s also about how the work should be seen. I’ve made it big to make you feel small standing in it. Flying over it squishes the Gestalt. It’s supposed to be about a motor-delayed, cumulative observation: you’ve got to walk around it, climb over it and later put it together in your mind and figure out where you were. It isn’t the old convenient art object.
“I think size is the most unused quotient in the sculptor’s repertoire because it requires lots of commitment and time. To me it’s the best tool. With size you get space and atmosphere: atmosphere becomes volume. You stand in the shape, in the zone.“
Wie gesagt: 2020 ist sie fertig.
Alle Fotos sind Screenshots bei den im folgenden Absatz genannten Quellen oder bei Panoramio, von Zach Alan.
Lesenswert fand ich Dana Goodyear, The New Yorker: A Monument to Outlast Humanity, Michael Kimmelman, New York Times: Michael Heizer’s Big Work and Long View und (von 1999) A Sculptor’s Colossus of the Desert und last but not least den sehr tollen Blog von Nick Tarasen über Michael Heizers Arbeiten: double negative
Für Museen konzipierte Arbeiten von Michael Heizer sind noch bis zum 17.9.16 in der Akira Ikeda Galerie in Berlin-Mitte (bis 31.8. Sommerpause!) und im Lenbachhaus in München in der Ausstellung ‚So ein Ding muß ich auch haben‘ bis zum 31.12.16 zu sehen.