Sean J Patrick Carney

  • View of Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels, 1973–76, Great Basin Desert, Utah. © Holt/Smithson Foundation and Dia Art Foundation. Photo: Sean J Patrick Carney.
    slant July 19, 2021

    Ground Control

    I’M SITTING AT THE BOTTOM of a dry, deteriorating swimming pool in the Great Salt Lake Desert. Here, across northwestern Utah’s remote Tooele County, the bone-white, salt-crusted terrain appears endless. It’s so vast you can see the curvature of the Earth.

    The Donner-Reed Party trudged this eighty-mile waterless drive in 1846, following the spurious California Trail shortcut recommended by adventurer and future Confederate major Lansford Hastings. Their hubris and resultant cannibalism epitomize Manifest Destiny’s ravenous pathology. American audacity, not ingenuity, colonized the continent.

    During

  • Construction behind Creative Growth in Oakland, 2017.
    slant April 22, 2021

    Contested Terrain

    WITH FEWER THAN HALF A MILLION RESIDENTS, Oakland’s complex art ecosystem rivals those of cities twice its size. Muralists, art-school grads, experimental musicians, artist-activists, graffiti writers, and Burning Man sectarians live and work throughout Oakland’s deindustrialized shoreline corridor and flatlands. Its DIY cultures are eclectic and often political, owing to the city’s distinctive history of liberation movements, mutual-aid networks, and labor organizing.

    Fifteen years ago, Oakland was, relative to tech-gentrified San Francisco, semi-affordable. Today, Oakland artists battle colossal