The City of West Hollywood has commissioned works by Miki Iwasaki and Tim Murdoch for “Can You Dig It?”, its upcoming temporary land art exhibition, which was conceived to address the current California drought.
“Can You Dig It?” is part of Art on the Outside, West Hollywood’s public art program that installs rotating temporary artworks on medians and in parks. A request for submissions was issued mid-summer, and the city received applications from 61 artists and artist teams from eight states nationwide. Finalists were reviewed by the Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission in early November. The two works chosen will be installed in Plummer Park early next year.
Artist, designer and architect Miki Iwasaki’s “Aqueous Skin” is a suspended canopy composed of recycled and repurposed metal remnants arranged to resemble the surface of water.
Functionally, the artwork provides shade, at the same time that it encourages viewers to make associations with a dynamic range of issues relevant to local and universal ideas about water and the environment. In addition to provoking thought about the drought, Iwasaki’s piece references Los Angeles’ ongoing affinity for mid-century modern style in its design and detailing, as well as car culture through the use of salvaged automotive parts. Aqueous Skin will be installed in from of the Plummer Park Community Center in late January, 2016.
The title of Tim Murdoch’s “And The Tree Was Happy”—a whimsical vine of colorful, segmented plastic tubes ascending a tree—references Shel Silverstein’s book “The Giving Tree.” Dr. Seuss’s “The Lorax” is also a source of inspiration, another classic in which a serious tale is told in a humorous and approachable way.
Made completely from salvaged materials dramatically in contrast with nature, “And The Tree Was Happy” winds up to the tree’s lower branches, culminating in blossom-like water catchers. At the tree’s base sits a bulbous knob containing a faucet to access the water. The valve represents an opportunity at redemption, our redemption, says the artist—“We could choose to take the water and use it for ourselves, or we could choose to return the water to the tree.” The project will be installed in the center of Plummer Park in late Februar 2016.
Land Art, Earthworks or Earth Art—the inspirations for “Can You Dig It?”—refer to an influential art movement that emerged in the U.S. in the late 1960s and early 1970s in which landscape and the work of art are seamlessly linked. The artworks frequently exist in the open, left to change and erode under natural environmental conditions (Jeffrey Kastner, Land and Environmental Art, survey by Brian Wallis. Phaidon Press. 2010).
Examples of notable land art projects include: Andy Goldsworthy, Woven Branch Arch; Maya Lin, The Wave Field; Nancy Holt, Sun Tunnels; Michael Heizer, Double Negative; Buster Simpson, The Hudson Headwaters Purge; Christo and Jean Claude, Surrounded Islands. A new documentary feature, Troublemakers: The Story of Land Art – A Film By James Crump (2015), explores the movement.
Additional projects are under consideration for “Can You Dig It?” A public reception will be held in the New Year, date to be announced. For more details: http://www.weho.org/residents/arts-and-culture/visual-arts/art-on-the-outside/can-you-dig-it