Formations of Erasure
Show Launches New CLUI LA Exhibit Space

1184 The Formations of Erasure: Earthworks and Entropy exhibit and Land Art Database terminal at CLUI, Los Angeles.

THE NEW EXHIBIT SPACE AT the renovated CLUI Los Angeles location opened in September with the exhibit Formations of Erasure: Earthworks and Entropy. The exhibit consisted of contemporary photographs of earthworks across the United States, focusing on those that do not have extensive maintenance programs, and thus have been altered by time and the elements. Most of the depicted pieces were constructed in the 1970’s and, over time, these structures have receded from the pure, intentional form of the artist's idea, into a new dynamic form that represents a collaboration between humans and the nonhuman world.

In addition to the large photographs and text panels in the exhibit, a computer database was available to visitors in the gallery, with information on existing and disappeared land art sculptures across the country.

On October 13, as part of the exhibit, an evening of talks was held in the space, attended by a crowd which filled the room to capacity and spilled into the street (the CLUI apologizes to those that missed the presentation due to lack of space - please come early to future CLUI events to be sure to get a seat). Smithson scholar Hikmet Loe, from Salt Lake City, presented unpublished material on the building of the Spiral Jetty, and Sam Durant, an artist and teacher at California Institute of the Arts, gave a multimedia presentation about the Jetty’s cultural context, suggesting conceptual strands that link it to Altamont, George Bataille, and Nirvana.

While the exhibit examined sites that are generally considered to be "decaying," one function of the exhibit was to show how meaning can be ascribed to these sites even if the art has been transformed by erosion, or has disappeared entirely, and how, in fact, the significance of earthworks can increase in an inverse relationship to their physical existance. "An earthwork is there whether you can see it or not," said CLUI curator Sarah Simons. "When it becomes invisible, all that is happening is that the site rises as a component in the work." The exhibit was open from September 15 to December 5, 2000.