This is the first essay of a series of five that I will be published at Jornal Público during this summer. It is based on the Travel Diary of my journey in the American Southwest. You can read it here.
Driving through the Great Basin desert, in Utah and Nevada, we visited 3 Earthworks. All three were sponsored by Virginia Dwan, the visionary gallerist and heiress of the 3M company - Minnesota, Mining & Manufacturing. It was at Dwan Gallery, in 1968, that the show Earth Works defined what would become sculpture in the 'expanded field'.
Wendover air base has an open air museum. There's a public drive with plaques informing about the history of the site. These describe objects inside the base, over the fence, like the Enola Gay hangar. Besides they also point at structures that although built as movie props, remain onsite. This is a place where historically laden artifacts and constructed imaginary worlds seem to be presented on the same level. A few old planes were 'parked' close to the fence so that visitors could take pictures. At first, we thought this one was also part of the exhibit. That was not the case.
This railroad crossing is the only urban remain of the town of Lucin. It was founded as a watering station for steam locomotives, the Lucin Ponds were reservoirs of the water collected through a pipeline from the melting snows of the nearby Pilot Mountain Range. Where the ponds used to be there are clumps of surprisingly tall cottonwood trees. They are now protected as an important resting site for migratory songbirds, attracted by this small patch of shade and water in the Great Basin Desert. On our way to see Nancy Holt's Sun Tunnels we waved hello to the railroad engineer inspecting this crossing. We had to drive three hours until crossing paths with another car, the driver waved hello and we waved back. I imagine that we too were the first people he saw in hours.