Inside "Desert Siteworks"
(DATELINE: SUMMER SOLSTICE, 1993 – BLACK ROCK DESERT, NEVADA)
Something's happening here – urban artists are collaborating on projects realized in the desert. Forsaking convenience stores and the studio, they – we – are living and working for periods of time on a remote hotplate of silt and ash, where you can see the curvature of the Earth.
Art in the desert. The question arises, why? And, so what?
Out here, without our exoskeleton (car, gas, cooler, shelter, etc.), we'd be dead meat. Just knowing this, adds an edge. Freedom has a price. It sharpens our sense of what we can and cannot do, tests us. On the playa, mirages recede as we drive, tantalizing us. The last sunrays appear as a laser-thin line, miles long. If you're brain-dead, you won't get inspired. Otherwise ... what can we do in this place? This place where light and heat may cause objects and actions shimmer and stand out in relief, and become altered, taking on new significance, new perception, new inspiration.
Without limits, there is no tension. Without tension, is no progression. Guru Garaj Key
Making art in the Black Rock Desert requires we deal with the vast, vaguely differentiated space of the playa and environs – and define the edges or sets of limits, the context within which art can be convened. Without codes, conventions, sets of limits, there is no language, no consensual reality, no art.
The Desert Siteworks Project (1992-1994), which was conceived, directed and photographed by William Binzen, is in the Archive Collections of the Center for Art + Environment at the Nevada Museum of Art.
The primary focus of the Archive Collections is on site-specific works addressing creative interactions with various environments. Because it is the only repository of its kind in the world, CA+E has developed an international reputation, and scholars, researchers and museum curators regularly utilize its resources.