The Center for Land Use Interpretation Newsletter

Wendover Report


2007 WAS ANOTHER BUSY SEASON for the CLUI Wendover Complex in Wendover, Utah. Work progressed on the completion of the Orientation Building, which should be ready to open for the beginning of the 2008 season, in April, thanks to the efforts of the Annual Work Party crew: Jed Lackritz, Joe Potts, Philip Weil, Ben Loescher, Jenny La Nicca, Carolin Bock and Moritz Fehr, Ed Coolidge, Brett Stalbaum, Paula Poole, and team leader John Brinton Hogan.

Currently in CLUI Exhibit Hall 2 is a display of material by 2006 resident Katherine Bash and the writer Bill Fox, from their project Wendover: Floating Point Operation, an examination of spatial phenomenology related to Floating Island, an ephemeral landscape at the far end of the salt flats. Up for a little while longer in CLUI Exhibit Hall 1 is a display of large images from a University of Missouri, St. Louis class that blasted through the area last spring. The class (of art history students with their professor Susan Cahan), spent three days being led around the Great Salt Lake and Wendover by the CLUI. They then went to work at a spot picked out by the CLUI as a field project site, an abandoned gas station at the tip of the Skull Valley, a veritable “Home Depot” of unclaimed raw materials for making temporary sculptural interpretations of the region.

CLUI photo
University of Missouri students and teachers construct and discuss ephemeral land sculptures on CLUI-led tour of the Great Salt Lake Desert. CLUI photo

The CLUI Wendover Residence Program was also busy over the 2007 season, with more than a dozen new individuals and groups involved, including: Owen Gump, a Californian living in Leipzig, Germany, who made photographs of some of the remote stretches and corners of the region into a booklet, Promontory, and returning to finish his project in 2008; Filmmaker Matt McCormick, from Portland, Oregon, who filmed ghost towns in the region for presentations and performances around the country, and for an upcoming video installation; Cassim Shepherd, from Massachusetts, who worked on a film about the region; Guenter Stoeger and Rita Laslberger, from Berlin, Germany, who worked on regional photographic and film projects that will be displayed at a later date; Vincent Lamouroux, from Paris, France, who made a large dome sculpture on the salt flats (later removed after being photographed); the painter Philip Govedare, from Washington state, who made paintings based on the landscape of the area for an upcoming exhibition; Jess Dunn, from New Mexico, who used the landscape around Wendover, and its salt resources, for her larger work Corporeal Landings, shown in Albuquerque; Robin Doherty and Carol Hummel, from Ireland and Ohio, respectively, who made photographs and macramed portions of the landscape; Kristin Posehn, from Penryn, California and Holland, who focused on the former boom town that never was, called Metropolis, located in northern Nevada, as part of an elaborate documentation and research project she is working on for an exhibition and publication; and Smudge Studios, based in New York City, who were in residence at South Base, as part of their program to explore inhabiting different kinds of spaces all over the country.

CLUI photo
The Russian Inspection Station at Wendover. CLUI photo

Lewis Colburn, from Syracuse, New York, repaired the Russian Inspection Station at the airport, and researched its use and origins. The Russian Inspection Station is a prefab building, built in Russia in the 1980s, and shipped to the rocket plant at Bacchus, Utah, to house Russian inspectors, as part of the START (Strategic Arms Reduction) treaty. After serving their purpose at the rocket plant, and facing disposal, these buildings were moved to Wendover for safe-keeping. The apartment and inspection work station in the building, complete with Russian furniture, fixtures, appliances, and equipment, remained untouched behind a fence at Wendover for the past few years. For his time as a Wendover resident, Lewis, who is fluent in Russian, fixed the place up, with the cooperation of the Wendover Airport, translated some of the manuals and publications inside the station, and made a series of photographs of himself, based on historic images of its former Russian users. It remains to be discovered if the complimentary inspection station made for the American START inspectors in Russia, is still in existence, somewhere in the former Soviet Union.

Other repeat visitors came through to work on new or ongoing projects, including Lisa Blatt, Lucy Raven, Jessica Sowls, Deborah Stratman, Rob Ray, Steve Badgett, and the couple Brett Stalbaum and Paula Poole, from San Diego, who returned to Wendover to make more work based on their C5 Landscape Database. The latest project involves a hiking trail, indicated on a kiosk outside the CLUI orientation building. The trail takes hikers along a computer generated path between two old bunkers, on one either side of a small mountain range north of Wendover, using a route determined by their software. And, as they have for the past five years, the Land Arts and the American West field class from the University of New Mexico came through in early September, led by Bill Gilbert, and spent a few days working on a number of sites in the region. The work from the group is currently on display in Albuquerque.

New visitors just passing through included Michael Sturtz and his crew from Oakland, California, who came out to the salt flats to attempt to set the world speed record for a biofueled diesel motorcycle, the “Die Moto.” They succeeded: 130.614 MPH. The team of volunteers, known as the Diesel Dozen, crafted Die Moto from BMW R1150RT motorcycle parts, replacing the motor with a high performance BMW automotive diesel engine found only in Europe. The bike is a motorized work of art—an automotive engine on a motorcycle chassis encased in a hand-crafted ¾ aluminum fairing reminiscent of the GP racers, paying homage to the early pioneers of motorcycle daring. Team leader Michael Sturtz is the founder and Executive Director of the Crucible, an art space and foundry in Oakland.

The 2008 season, fully booked and just beginning, promises to be another compelling chapter in the Center’s interpretive odyssey on the edge of nowhere.