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  • 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

  • ChronoZoning Lake Abert

    Time collapses. This basalt is different. Harder. Darkly brown. Rounded water-smoothed boulders thick with feldspar crystals sparkling in the desert air.  Petroglyphs emerge ghost-like, yearning, dissolve as the light shifts, from 3000 YBP (+/- 2500 years).  Along the eastern shore of Lake Abert.  Along US Highway 395 north to Canada south to California 19th century geographic imaginings. Margins alive. Lichen cattle shrimp avocets bighorn. Saltcrusts fences bones placed stones. Wave cut road cut clay bed tar bed.

    Here the southwest edge the multi-layered Columbia River Flood Basalt Province. Color-coded on puzzled maps. 17-15 millions years Before Present.  Suddenly 8 million years ago the earth stretching west the block fault scarp breaks up as the valley sinks. After the last glacial the basin lake shrinks to a thin shimmer of a ghost of a brimming Pleistocene past.

    Other petroglyphs along Lake Abert carved on sheer-faced boulders cracked tumbled from the upward rims. A finer lighter basalt. Soft gray, dark gray, stony gray.  Petroglyphs recalling the Holocene seasons cycling with life. Peooles on and through this land for 14,000 years.Of and in this earth. Now named for absent Westerners. Deitz. Paisley. Warner. Abert too a ghostly misnomer from Fremont’s 1840s hauntings.

    A very near blurred future-time collides toward this place. Too soon geo-logically: a stark dry slope a dusty valley. Asphalt road bed black cracking tilting sliding into white salt. Trace chemicals congeal to bind the changing times. Patina darkens petroglyphs rock circles stacked walls. Wind carries the sparklings of the longing crystals on through the curve of time.

    More Abert images on Google+