Blind Spot: Nancy Holt and Richard Misrach
Blind Spot is part of a non-profit organization (Photo-Based Art, Inc.) with a long history of publishing. They are celebrated for their unique photography magazines which were published between 1992-2014. Re-igniting the momentum from the past, Blind Spot is now featuring a new annual series presenting previously unseen photo-based work.
Presented in this inaugural edition of Blind Spot is a posthumous collaboration between Nancy Holt (1938-2014) and Richard Misrach (born 1949) – two artists whose works investigate humanity’s place in this world. Holt embraces new media of her era, giving form to human perception of time and space. Misrach’s photographs focus on human intervention in landscape.
In this publication, Blind Spot pairs two bodies of work to create a unique record of Holt’s Land Art project Sun Tunnels,1973-1976, located on forty acres in the Northwest corner of Utah in the Great Basin. Holt’s small-scale photo studies for this work (Instamatic prints) evoke an intimate experience of Sun Tunnels while Misrach’s large-scale photographs (eight feet by ten feet captured using an eight by ten inch view camera) evoke its physical space and presence.
Sun Tunnels consists of four massive concrete tunnels arranged in an “X” configuration. Holt created perforations on the surface of each tunnel bringing sunlight within the structures. The perforations (which are mimicked on the custom constructed book jacket) echo the star constellations of Draco, Perseus, Columba, and Capricorn.
In 1988, Misrach decided that photographing artists’ earthworks would be a great addition to his Desert Cantos project to further his explorations regarding the many ways that civilization engages with the desert. In addition to Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels, he photographed Michael Heizer’s City and Turrell’s Roden Crater. His photographic series of Sun Tunnels is the first Canto to be released from the artists’ earthwork series, Desert Cantos XL: Art in The West.
Bildmuseet University in Sweden is showing an extensive retrospective Nancy Holt / Inside, Outside on view from June 17, 2022 through Feb 12, 2023. Included in this traveling exhibition are four large-scale photographs of Sun Tunnels by Misrach.
Blind Spot Folios is a new annual series presenting previously unseen photo-based work. The inaugural issue features a pair of volumes by Richard Misrach and Nancy Holt. Misrach’s contains images of Holt’s Sun Tunnels which he photographed in 1988. Holt’s volume contains archival materials—photo studies and excerpts from a Self-Interview—made between 1973-1975, while conceiving the earthwork. Blind Spot Folios 001 contains two unbound volumes, offset printed by Trifolio in Verona, Italy on Mohawk Superfine 135gsm paper. Each volume is composed of four nested leaves, folded to 11 x 15 inches, housed in a custom embossed Colorplan folder with die cuts. The folder is also offset printed with a conversation between Lisa Le Feuvre, Executive Director Holt/Smithson Foundation, and artist Richard Misrach. The print run is limited to 750 copies, 100 of which come with an initialed and numbered plate by Richard Misrach.
For over 50 years, Richard Misrach has photographed the dynamic landscape of the American West through an environmentally aware and politically astute lens. His visually seductive, large-scale color vistas powerfully document the devastating ecological effects of human intervention, industrial development, nuclear testing and petrochemical pollution on the natural world. His best known and ongoing epic series, Desert Cantos, comprises 40 distinct but related groups of pictures that explore the complex conjunction between mankind and nature. Otherworldly images of desert seas, rock formations, and clouds are juxtaposed with unsettling scenes of desert fires, nuclear test sites, and animal burial pits.
Nancy Holt (April 5, 1938 – February 8, 2014) was a member of the earth, land, and conceptual art movements. An innovator of site-specific installation and the moving image, Holt recalibrated the limits of art. She expanded the places where art could be found and embraced the new media of her time. Across five decades she asked questions about how we might understand our place in the world, investigating perception, systems, and place. Holt’s rich artistic output spanned concrete poetry, audioworks, film and video, photography, slideworks, ephemeral gestures, drawings, room-sized installations, earthworks, artists’ books, and public sculpture commissions.
Born in Worcester in Massachusetts, Holt grew up in New Jersey. She graduated with a degree in biology from Tufts University, Massachusetts in 1960. Later that year she moved to New York City where she met the artist Robert Smithson; the two were married on June 8, 1963. The places Holt lived remained important to her: New Jersey is the site of Stone Ruin Tour (1967), Pine Barrens (1975), and Sky Mound (1984-); and Massachusetts the location of Underscan (1973-74) and Spinwinder (1991). Her earliest exhibitions were in New York: the first group presentation Language III at Dwan Gallery in 1969, and the first solo in 1972 at l0 Bleecker Street. In 1968 Holt made her first journey to the American West.
The Great Basin Desert, Utah is where her landmark earthwork Sun Tunnels (1973-76) is located. In 1995 Holt made Galisteo, New Mexico her home.
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