It’s surprisingly easy to forget that beyond city life, there are wide expanses of wild, wild land. Los Angeles, it seems, is located in a desert and New York City smack in the center of rural pastures and woodlands.
The latest exhibit at MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary, Ends of the Earth: Land Art to 1974, endeavors to show us the landscape we take for granted. The show, which opened on May 27 and runs through September, is the first to deal with Land Art in such expansive terms. With the help of photographic documentation and film footage, the exhibit presents us with a multi-faceted depiction of the movement.
The focus here is on the 1960s through 70s, when the movement had already begun but not yet solidified. During the era, “Land Art” (as an artistic style and philosophy) underwent various adaptations and developments, but never lost sight of its purpose: to explore the ways in which humans interact with their surroundings.
In MOCA’s exhibit, we are bombarded with instances of humans disrupting nature taking its course. There are manipulated shorelines, as in Jeanne-Claude and Christo’s Wrapped Coast (1969-96) and Keith Arnatt’s Liverpool Beach Burial(1968), roads cut haphazardly through deserts, and, of course, a good helping of Robert Smithson interventions.
The exhibit forces us to examine our own role in our environment–a topic that is as relevant today at it was in 1974.