Wendover Report

3312 Students from Milwaukee visiting CLUI Wendover get their feet wet at the Bonneville Salt Flats. CLUI photo

THE CLUI HAS had another active year at our complex in Wendover, Utah, hosting several classes and group visits, operating the residence program, and working on several long-term regional projects.

Classes included a group from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, who were doing a week-long tour of land art sites in the region and spent a couple of days at CLUI Wendover; a class from Montana State University; and the Land Arts and the American West program out of Texas Tech, which spent a week at CLUI Wendover doing projects all over the area.

New residents this year included Sarah Luria, a writer and photographer based in Worcester, Massachusetts, who is working on a project involving re-photographic comparisons of Timothy O’Sullivan’s early photographs in the region; Cezanne Charles and John Marshall, architects/designers from Ann Arbor, Michigan, who worked with drone-mounted cameras and constructed an preparedness/response system called a BOLTS tactical shelter; Bryon Darby, who came from Lawrence, Kansas, and spent a few weeks in Wendover studying and documenting casino junket flights and did high-resolution imaging of the ground; and Jeremy Bolen, a teacher at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, who employs experimental photographic techniques including using the actual ground as a lens for capturing imagery.

Several other residents from previous seasons returned to install projects, or to work on longer-term projects they have developed since their residency, such as Mikael Lindahl, Rob Ray, Lisa Blatt, and William Lamson.

We had a great group of around 25 people for the annual Wendover Work Party in early August, with people coming from New York, Colorado, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Miami, Santa Fe, San Diego, and even Istanbul (where Phil lives now). Helpers included Dan Torop, Rich Pell, Lauren Allen, Rob Ray, Jen Hofer, Jed Lackritz, Philip Weil, John Hogan, William Keddell, Hikmet Loe, Cris Benton, Jenny Lion, Steven Matheson, Kate Moxham, Doug Tausik, Aurora Tang, Matthew Coolidge, Wendy Wischer, Paul Stout, John Mack, Igor Vamos, Sadaf Rassoul Cameron, John Fitchen, Stuart Anderson, Scott Vermeire, and Annie Vought. Thanks to all of you!

Over the last year, members of the Center worked on several aerial documentary projects in the region, including the Great Salt Lake Landscan, commissioned by the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, which will be on view there from January 24 to May 4, 2014. It will be shown with two other Salt Lake-related projects, Tacita Dean’s film JG, which she shot in 2012 at Death Valley, Spiral Jetty, and around the potash works at Wendover; and paintings of the Great Salt Lake by Alfred Lambourne (1850-1926), a painter and writer who lived for a while on one of the remote islands in the lake.

3332 The Bingham pit landslide went from top to bottom of the 3,000 foot deep pit, forming a half mile-wide gash in the stepped slope. CLUI photo

3333 It took out part of an equipment maintenance building, and buried nine giant yellow dump trucks. CLUI photo
In April, 2013, members of the CLUI documented the Bingham Pit landslide, 10 days after it occurred. The slide, which happened at 9:30pm on April 10, and involved around 55 million cubic meters of earth falling into the pit, was the largest non-volcanic landslide in the history of the country (a slide occurring as part of the Mount St. Helens eruption displaced alot more material, hence the “non-volcanic” qualifier). Bingham’s superlative is even more remarkable as it was entirely a product of human activity, taking place inside the largest open pit mine in the country.

The slide, though unintentional, was expected, and no one was harmed. But it was larger than they anticipated. Rio Tinto, the company operating the mine, uses interferometric radar to measure strain and changes in stability on the pit walls. In February, movements on the scale of fractions of an inch per day were detected, and the engineers made plans for a possible slide by moving some roads, equipment, and the visitor center. In April, movement of few inches per day was detected, and the mine was evacuated. The company issued a press release about an imminent slide seven hours before it happened.

The Center’s images, taken from a helicopter flying inside the pit, will be part of an exhibit called Creation and Erasure: Art of the Bingham Canyon Mine, at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, May 30 to September 28, 2014.  ♦