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  • Ambiguities in Forms and Realities

    Something can be whole only by having a hole.  Bernhard Siegert*

    Two red images painted on light stone. Or a single image – the animal-like figure and the circle-form, each attending to the other. Circle unstable, perhaps a sphere. Or hole?  If so, emergence, entrance, or in-between?  Animal, shifting into spirit? Looking, the fading, slowly dissolving, oscillating painting provokes in me a presence compressing time into now.

    Stepping back expands the physical presence of the placement, the place, the space. To the left on the dark basalt petroglyphs appear - pecked markings by indigenous peoples, perhaps others, arriving, departing before or after the painter of animal/circle-spirit/sphere. Did each artist-maker look and wonder at those markings, recognize intent and being? Together the images, the stone, the sky expanse, and the distant valley all conspire to infuse the place with story, a changing narrative as yet becoming.

    Other photos: A Rock Painting

    * From "Material World," Bernhard Siegert in conversation with Geoffrey Winthrop-Young. Artforum, Summer 2015, 324-333.
    Note: Image below is digitally enhanced to better show the painting’s forms.

  • Traces: Multidimensionality in Modoc country

    This sensual small grotto, the base of a basalt rim, holds clear, well-executed petroglyphs. At the time of my visit in July to this place in Modoc County, NE California, I did not see rock painting. That morning I was entranced by the rock carvings and the fluid protrusions of the congealed lava of the central stone.

    Later as I looked at the photos on my computer I noticed some faint colorations. There is a tint to red ochre distinct from the variety of warm colors appearing in weathered, patinaed, lichened basalt. At such moments, even when faint, intentional marks as applied paint emerge – if you are attuned and lucky.

    Intrigued, an enhanced photo revealed an array of applied paints. Traces appeared. It was clear the once-bright ochre had been applied in relationship to and in some instances directly over the petroglyphs. When, why, and by whom, is unknown. Now on public lands, this place is part of the country occupied and traversed by Pit River and Modoc tribal peoples for millennia. It is likely peoples from the Great Basin also moved through this country in times past and possibly bands from the Shasta area or the distant Columbia Basin. A place of intersections. Rock art emerges as traces of those early inhabitants and travelers.
    To view larger versions:   
    Grotto Modoc County