BLOG: To Become Visible

Dislocation
  • The Rock Art of Tate Modern

    25th of July 2019.  The hottest day ever in Britain … considering the “vibrant matter” of Joseph Beuys’s artwork residing in a cooled, high-white room in the Tate Modern in London.  

    The 21 crystallized basalt pillars quarried near Kassel Germany in the 1980s, are connected with the 7000 blasted, selected, and hauled to the Kassel’s Friedrichsplatz in front of the Museum Fridericianum.  Spawned from that expansive and ongoing 7000 Eichen (7000 Oaks) project, the Tate’s very materialized and very conceptualized artwork, The End of the Twentieth Century, was purchased by the Tate in 1991.  It is one of three separate but related installations preserved intact and carefully curated in European museums. (Another: Pinakothek in Munich, which also today marked its hottest day in history.)

    The week prior to arriving in London in May this year, and by good fortune, I walked among the Ballymeanoch standing stones in Kilmartin Glen in Western Scotland  The coned circles carved into the boulders by Beuys echoed in my mind’s eye the cups and concentric circles on some of ancient stones placed upright 4000 years ago in the verdant valley.  Through the Tate Modern gallery wondering wanderers drift by the Beuys stones with a glance of uncertain awe. Modern travelers gaze in similar fashion at the Kilmartin monuments.  Stones, gaze, wonder.

    John Berger believed, “In matters of seeing, Joseph Beuys was the great prophet of the second half of our century.”   Prophet is a powerful word.  Perhaps a good word to hold in mind when looking with placed stones while wondering about the human endeavor.  Stones, heat, art.

    Photos Douglas Beauchamp May 2019

  • Lone-Lizard sees Ancient-History

    “Lane County has an abundance of prehistoric artifacts. This example of pictographs have defied the elements for centuries.  Writings can be see along Highway 395 near Lake Abert.  County contains almost a fourth of the state’s Indian writings.”  
    — Caption of a featured photograph of a petroglyph boulder in the Sunday Oregonian, 1959 [1]

    “Indian Pictographs in Lake County. Such Indian picture writings are usually not very old, because the desert wind and sand tend to obliterate them in about two hundred years as a rule.”  
    — Caption of a photograph of a petroglyph boulder published as the full-page frontispiece of The Oregon Desert, 1964 [2]  (Adapted image above)

    “The boulder was blasted by a maintenance crew about 1967, and the fragments graded into the ditch on the west side of the highway.”
    - Noted by Malcolm and Louise Loring from a 1967 visit, 1982 [3]

    The same petroglyph boulder is imaged and imagined in all three. The Oregonian and Oregon Desert photographs are almost identical.

    Lone-Lizard sees it coming: Ancient-History in not ancient. Lone-Lizard sees it going: Ancient-History is not history as a rule.  Ancient-History sees Lone-Lizard is not a lizard in dreamtime highway fragments.  [4]

    Above, an adapted image of Lorings's line drawing of the boulder’s face prior to 1967. They noted: "On one large lizard petroglyph the rock surface in the body was polished and painted with red pigment." 

    NOTES
    [1] "Pictographs, Petroglyphs Premium Lake County Attractions,” Sunday Oregonian, August 23, 1959, by Paul Laartz, The highlight of this feature story was a photograph of the boulder with petroglyphs on the southeast shore of Lake Abert. The story was part of series in partnership with the Oregon State Motor Assn to promote  tourism during Oregon’s centennial year.  
    Eerily, the 1959 article also includes another photograph captioned: “Lakeview, well known as a center of lumbering, cattle raising, has recently added this uranium reduction mill to its list of contributors to a thriving Lake County economy.”  The Lakeview Uranium Mill operated 1958-1961.  A 2017 fact sheet “provides information about the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act of 1978. Title I processing site and disposal site near Lakeview, Oregon. This site is managed by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Legacy Management.”   https://www.lm.doe.gov/Lakeview/Disposal/Sites.aspx

    [2] The Oregon Desert, 1964, by E R Jackman and Reub A. Long, Caxton Press (Idaho).  Chapter 11, titled  “Indians in the Desert,” offers folksy observation, opinion and hearsay, vague (mis)information, and condescending pronouncements typical of late 19th- and early 20th-century attitudes. This enduringly popular volume has been continuously in-print since 1964; distributed by University of Nebraska Press. The full-page frontispiece photograph is the petroglyph boulder destroyed in 1967.

    [3] Malcolm and Louise Loring in 1967 visited the Lake Abert shore location of petroglyph boulder highlighted in the two photographs. In the description for  Site 140 the Lorings reference the 1959 Oregonian story.  Loring, J. Malcolm, and Louise Loring. Pictographs & Petroglyphs of the Oregon Country, Parts I & II. 1996. This one-volume corrected edition of the original 1982 two-volume publication is available online.

    [4] Dreamtime Highway is not a completely original phrase. I've admired Dreamtime Superhighway (2008), a superb book by Jo McDonald about the rock art of New South Wales, Australia, which "proposes that the rock art in the Sydney region functioned as a prehistoric information superhighway.” Something to ponder as we look to see.

    Lake Abert Southeast shore. (Photo Douglas Beauchamp, 2016)