Michael Heizer


« Ma pratique reflète ma conscience de vivre à l’ère nucléaire. Nous sommes peut-être en train de vivre la fin de la civilisation. » L’œuvre City, construite à quelques kilomètres d’un site dessai nucléaire, est destinée à survivre au-delà de la catastrophe quappréhende lartiste américain Michael Heizer. Elle évoque des bunkers anti-explosion.

Serge Paul, « Michael Heizer et les risques du sublime technologique », Marges, 14 | 2012 p. 28-46

In 1969, when a 23-year-old Michael Heizer drove his bulldozer into a patch of desiccated Nevada dirt to begin creating his seminal work Double Negative, he was out to do more than just buck the East Coast art establishment; he was out to make a sculpture about oblivion. Following the lead of his fellow Land Artist Robert Smithson, Heizer wanted to create a ‘non-site’ (Smithson’s term), which to him meant cutting through the crust of the high Nevada desert and removing over 250 tons of earth across a ravine, creating the optical illusion of a connected trench. His stated goal was a physical work made of absence–­­ something which could only be experienced in person.

The resulting Land Artwork Double Negative was an act of rebellion, but also of ecological violence: a lone cowboy­-hatted man making an arbitrary mark on the surface of the earth using the biggest tools as his disposal. (The overwhelming majority of the first generation of American Land Artists were men). This was at the height of the Vietnam War, deep into the Cold War, when Western civilization felt the immanent threat of Soviet invasion and global nuclear apocalypse. Artists were reacting in extreme ways, rejecting gallery­-oriented formalism and spawning radical movements like Fluxus, Conceptualism and Land Art. Perhaps, with our superpowers dead­set on atomic Armageddon and seemingly nothing an individual could hope to do about it, Heizer and his contemporaries were simply channeling latent feelings of political impotence into the most direct, most physical gestures available. Or perhaps they were just angry. As Heizer put it, there were ‘no aesthetics involved.’

Significantly, Heizer situated Double Negative a mere 70 miles east of Nevada Test Site, a vast salt flat where the U.S. tested its nuclear weapons during the Cold War. NTS loomed large in public consciousness during the 1960s and 70s, when weekly atomic tests made front page news in the New York Times and in Life magazine.

IMG MGMT: Land Art and the Nuclear Landscape, By:  on Tuesday, June 21st, 2016 at 1:41 pm

IMG MGMT: Land Art and the Nuclear Landscape