Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Day 144: Proximate Depressions

Michael Heizer. North, East, South, West, 1967—2002. © Michael Heizer. Photo: Tom Vinetz.

Last night we heard An-My Lê speak about Michael Heizer at Dia Chelesa. I will write more about her incredible talk and work in the coming days, but today it is Heizer. I have been thinking about him a lot lately, not only because he is the only artist I know that transplanted himself to Nevada to make works (and a giant, singular work) over 30 years ago- but for several weeks now I have been thinking about the image above and once I saw it, I couldn't not see it- the circle as subsistence crater. I have been fortunate enough to peer over the edge of these depressions at the Dia Beacon twice. And since last October I have been fortunate enough to compare those experiences to peering over the edge of Sedan Crater at the Nevada Test Site. Both are incredibly destabilizing but for different reasons. The formal relationship was always there, but now that proximity has been realized more fully, both are experienced differently- and more deeply. It changes everything for me to know that Heizer's home and City is located within 30 miles of Nellis Air Force Base (which directly links to the NTS and Yucca Mountain). He has situated himself right there, literally, and has continuously been rearranging his own landscapes while the military continues to rearrange theirs (ours).

Heizer is also in the midst of trying to stop a railroad line from passing within 1 mail of his property line. This line would be transporting nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain:

Las Vegas Review-Journal, January 24, 2008, By Keith Rogers

Criticism falls on DOE plan for rail line
Land sculpture is one concern

Rural Lincoln County residents jokingly call it the "glow train" because, if built, it would haul highly radioactive waste to the proposed repository at Yucca Mountain, 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas.But the Department of Energy's plans for a 319-mile rail line from Caliente to Yucca Mountain did not get glowing reviews at Wednesday's meeting of the Nevada Commission on Nuclear Projects. Katie Stone Sonnenborn, who represented the New York-based Dia Art Foundation, said that building and operating a nuclear waste rail line through remote Garden Valley would ruin a $30 million land sculpture project, spanning more than three decades, dubbed "City" by world-renowned artist Michael Heizer. Heizer started his project in Lincoln County's Garden Valley in 1969, hoping the mile-long, 1,000-foot-wide work of soil, rock and concrete forever would keep its isolated ambience in a setting that conveys a sense of timelessness. The Department of Energy's plans to build a rail line within a mile of Heizer's work "will have a devastating impact on 'City,'" Sonnenborn told the commission, led by former Sen. Richard Bryan. The DOE's initial plans called for starting rail construction in 2009 with the line operating in 2014. Budget cuts have pushed the dates to 2011 and 2016, respectively. Despite uncertainty that looms over the Yucca Mountain Project, Sonnenborn remains concerned that a rail line through the area will ruin the integrity of "City," which, she said, is nearing completion and is still off-limits to the public. With viewing points from the landscape of undisturbed mountains and high desert, the sculpture "is in complete harmony with its site," she said. "For this reason, the project is internationally acclaimed even in its unfinished state," Sonnenborn said. Heizer's neighbor, Gracian Uhalde, a sheep and cattle rancher whose heritage dates to his grandfather's arrival in Lincoln County in the 1880s, said he, too, is leery of DOE's plans for disposing nuclear waste and of the effect the rail line would have on grazing his sheep. "We lasted through atomic testing and saw fallout come down like snow when I was 10 years old," Uhalde said, referring to the early days of nuclear weapons testing at the Nevada Test Site. "So when the government says, 'We're here to help,' it leaves a question mark in your mind."

See an aerial view of City here.
See images, including 9 Nevada Depressions here.
Help stop the Yucca Mountain project here.

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