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7 May – 8 May 2024

Travelogue: The Lightning Field by Walther De Maria

Martine van Kampen visited Walter de Maria's work The Lightning Field during the Land Art Lives tour. This is her short report.

Walter de Maria - The Lightning Field

This is the sky above Walter de Maria's artwork The Lightning Field. You visit it by making a reservation at the Dia Art Foundation*, which owns and manages it. You then report to a small office in Quemado, in western New Mexico and are driven to the site with up to five other guests. You will stay together in a log cabin next to the work, to experience the artwork for 24 hours.

Spirit of minimalism

The Lightning Field is a land art work that shows well that the spirit of minimalism pervades this movement. It has an unprecedented precision: the metal poles are all placed on the considerably uneven ground in such a way that their tops form exactly a flat plane, and they are also tightly arranged in straight and diagonal lines. The book in the log cabin, which also has no pictures, mentions that the distances between the poles have an extreme deviation of 1/25th of an inch.

No taking pictures

The artist and the Dia Art Foundation kindly ask visitors not to take photos: the artwork is there to be experienced. I remember that this was also the case with Donald Judd's artworks in Marfa, Texas - another outspoken minimalist. Actually, that's nice: you can walk and look, wander and ponder endlessly, without being occupied with your camera. But afijn - so that's why this is a photo of the sky above The Lightning Field.

*Humberto Moro of the Dia Art Foundation is one of the speakers at the Land Art Lives Conference.

See all trip reports here.