Wendover Report

285 Two viewers of Martin Hogue's exhibit. CLUI photo

THE ANNUAL WORK PARTY BROUGHT the usual group of unusual people to CLUI Wendover—people who enjoy heavy labor, in the heat of late July, in the Great Salt Lake Desert.

With the expansion of the Center’s footprint at Wendover currently at equilibrium, herculean work was focused on maintenance and finishing touches, such as cleaning out the mountains of collected junk from over 10 years spent scavenging debris from the landscape for use in sculptures (much of it actually assembled by James Harbison, a particularly acquisitive sculptor who was in residence several years ago, and who, during his residency, spent a night in jail in Elko, after being caught behind the grocery store, with a milk crate . . . but that’s another story).

After a number of years of periodic renovations, the Center’s Orientation Building was finally opened to the public. This is a good first stop for visitors coming to CLUI Wendover, as here one can find maps, images, text, and displays that provide an overview of the area, from the macro to the micro.

Two new exhibits are on display, created by participants in the Wendover Residence Program. Martin Hogue’s project, A Site Constructed: The Bonneville Salt Flats and Land Speed Record, 1935-1970, is featured in Exhibit Hall One. Lisa Blatt’s installation Night Light is on view in Exhibit Hall Two. Other participants in the Residence Program will be displaying work in the future. The 2008 season group included Joni Sternbach, Neal White, Sarah Cowles, Steve Lacy, Erica Olsen, Owen Gump, Sonja Hinrichsen, and a group from Portland Oregon called Nowhere.

Several recidivists returned last season to continue with their long-term projects. Richard Saxton, of Municipal Workshop, brought his art class from Boulder Colorado to work at the site, and to do some maintenance on the Auto Tour quadricycle they constructed as part of their residence in 2005). Simparch went out for a few weeks to maintain and improve their Clean Livin’ off the grid outpost at South Base.

Lucy Raven, whose motion picture project was initiated during her residency in 2007, returned to complete it. Called China Town, the hour-long film, composed of high resolution still images and sound, follows the journey of copper ore from a mine in Ruth, Nevada, 130 miles south of Wendover, to a smelter in China. It has been shown at a number of venues in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, including a screening at the Bureau of Land Management in Ely, Nevada.

The first project within the Interpretive Research Facility initiative at Wendover was executed by a group of students in the Curatorial Practice Program at the California College of the Arts (CCA). Called Base/Basin, the project was developed over the course of a semester as part of a class led by Marina McDougall, and Matthew Coolidge of the CLUI. Each student explored a different aspect of the landscape and perceptual phenomenogy around Wendover, and together the group devised a tour that others can take.

The students’ tour begins at the base of the CLUI’s observation tower, where instruction sheets guide people up the tower. There, audio playback devices and headphones are available, to be worn for the rest of the tour. After a number of audio programs point out literal and metaphoric observation points from the top of the tower, visitors are guided across the old WW II airbase to the swimming pool, now abandoned and dry. The audio program and tour concludes there, at one of the deepest points in the ground in the area—the bottom of the basin.

286 To begin the Base/Basin tour designed by students from CCA, visitors find their way to this sign, and dig with the shovel to unearth the tour instructions, which are located in a jar in a buried washbasin. CLUI photoIn the Spring of 2009, another group from the Curatorial Practice Program at the California College of the Arts assembled an archive of films about the region, creating a collection of cinematic interpretations of Wendover, the Bonneville Salt Flats, and the Great Salt Lake Desert. A presentation of selections from the archive was made during an evening at the Studio for Urban Projects, in San Francisco, in April, 2009. The archive will be made available to all participants in the Center’s Wendover Residence Program.

287 Curators bottoming out below grade in the pool at Wendover. CLUI photo