Off the Grid

March 18, 2008
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The April/May issue of Bookforum is running an early review of Erin Hogan’s unconventional new travelogue, Spiral Jetta: A Road Trip through the Land Art of the American West. (The book will release in mid-April.) Noting the author’s willingness to trek off the beaten path to experience first-hand the unique blending of landscape and sculpture in American land art reviewer Nico Israel writes:

Earth art, that consummately American movement that sprang up during the high-Vietnam War era, combined a steely-eyed commitment to the truth of materials and to the power of basic geometric forms with a desire to get off the grid or at the very least “expand the field” of sculpture. Sometimes called environmental or land art, or Earthworks, depending on its practitioner, it demanded of its actual, physical viewers—”fit, though few,” as John Milton might have said—a pilgrim’s willingness to go on the road to remote places in order to see the works and experience the landscapes that they reframed and illuminated.…
Enter self-described “recovering art historian” Erin Hogan, whose book Spiral Jetta records her retrospective responses to a highway journey in her Volkswagen, in which, over the course of about three weeks, she visited Spiral Jetty, Michael Heizer’s Double Negative, Walter De Maria’s Lightning Field, and Donald Judd’s various Marfa projects.… Along the way, she offers compelling descriptions of the landscape of the American West, of the pilgrimage’s contradictions—she is sharp when noting what expensive-eyeglass-wearing visitors to Sun Tunnels or Lightning Field must look like to the hardscrabble locals—and of getting lost (which seems an inevitable part of visiting Earth art).

Read the rest of the review on the Bookforum website.

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