Loading...
Art

Last Chance to See 'Ends of the Earth,' MOCA's Landmark Land Art Show

Comments (0)

By

Fri, Aug 31, 2012 at 12:00 PM
click to enlarge Keith Arnatt's Liverpool Beach Burial, 1968 - COURTESY MAUREEN PALEY, LONDON AND THE ESTATE OF KEITH ARNATT
  • Courtesy Maureen Paley, London and The Estate of Keith Arnatt
  • Keith Arnatt's Liverpool Beach Burial, 1968

"Ends of the Earth: Land Art to 1974," a historical re-examination of the land art movement that closes Sunday, comes at a perfect time. It provides some thoughtful background information as we indulge in the large-scale public spectacle that is the unveiling of Michael Heizer's Levitated Mass at LACMA. It also acts as a sobering swan song for the "old culture" of MOCA, reminding us what they used to do best, pre-Deitch/Broad takeover: ambitious, in-depth examinations of contemporary art that change the discourse and provide an important point of reference for years to come.

A comprehensive, scholarly exhibition on land art has never been done before, and curators Philipp Kaiser and Miwon Kwon envision "Ends of the Earth" as a sort of starter set, looking at the various artistic impulses that eventually gave rise to what we know as land art. In the process, they parse out a more nuanced definition of the genre than what is currently taught in art history classes. The stereotypical image of monumental works sited in remote American locations by macho artists gives way to a subtler, more wide-ranging spectrum of work that includes international artists, urban environments, the use of photography and video, and collusions with the gallery system.

One of my favorite discoveries was Hreinn Fridfinnsson's House Project (1974), which was based on an Icelandic novel in which the main character builds an inside-out house that has a corrugated iron interior and a delicate, wallpapered exterior. Fridfinnsson built this sweet little house, documented in photographs, in a barren lava field outside of Reykjavik, stating "This house harbors the whole world except for itself."

I was also moved by the efforts of Artur Barrio, who in 1970 placed bloody bundles of organic matter in open city sewers as a protest against atrocities in Brazil. Who knew that land art could be literary/poetic, politically driven, and small scale?

click to enlarge Alice Aycock's Clay #2, 1971/2012 - COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
  • Courtesy of the artist
  • Alice Aycock's Clay #2, 1971/2012

Going through "Ends of the Earth" is a process of discovery that invites deeper levels of engagement and opens the door to a more complex understanding of the movement. Unlike recent projects undertaken by the "new culture" of MOCA, it doesn't hit you over the head with the obvious and then evaporate back into the abyss of vacuity from which it came. "Ends of the Earth" invites multiple visits and its catalog, a substantial volume that includes several essays, an interview with the curators, and an annotated checklist, will be referred to by students, scholars and art fans for years to come.

Related Content

Now Trending

Los Angeles Concert Tickets

Slideshows

  • Cowabunga! 30 Years of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
    The COWABUNGA! - 30 Years of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles tribute show opened Friday night at Iam8bit. Guests donned their beloved turtle graphic tees, onesies and a couple April O'Neils were there to report on all the mean, green, fighting machine action. Artist included Jude Buffum, Tony Mora, Nan Lawson, leesasaur, Jim Rucc, Mitch Ansara, Guin Thompson, Stratman, Gabe Swarr, Joseph Harmon, Alex Solis, Allison Hoffman, Jose Emroca Flores, Jack Teagle and more. All photos by Shannon Cottrell.
  • 21st Annual Classic Cars "Cruise Night" in Glendale
    On Saturday, spectators of all ages were out in multitudes on a beautiful summer night in Glendale to celebrate the 21st annual Cruise Night. Brand Boulevard, one of the main streets through downtown Glendale, was closed to traffic and lined with over 250 classic, pre-1979 cars. There was plenty of food to be had and many of the businesses on Brand stayed open late for the festivities The evening ended with fireworks and a 50th anniversary concert from The Kingsmen, who performed their ultimate party hit, "Louie, Louie." All photos by Jared Cowan.
  • Moonlight Rollerway Jubilee and Skate Party!
    Ambassador of Americana Charles Phoenix and Dominic's Moonlight Rollerway in Glendale hosted a jubilee featuring skating stars and world champions performing in a variety of costumed musical acts. The best part? An post-show all-skate party! All photos by Star Foreman.