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Nancy Holt, Sun Tunnels, 1973–76. Great Basin Desert, Utah. Photo: ZCZ Films/James Fox.

Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels to Undergo Conservation Work

The Dia Art Foundation announced that it will lead the first major effort to conserve Nancy Holt’s iconic Sun Tunnels, 1973–76, in its forty-six-year history. Located on a remote forty-acre plot in Utah’s Great Basin Desert, the important work of Land art was acquired by the organization last year.

Consisting of four concrete cylinders that are eighteen feet in length and nine feet in diameter and arranged in an “X” pattern on the desert floor, the work merges Holt’s interests in perception and time. During the summer and winter solstices, the tunnels align with the angles of the rising and setting sun. Each tunnel also has a different configuration of holes that correspond to the constellations Capricorn, Columba, Draco, and Perseus.

“When Dia acquired Sun Tunnels in 2018, our priority was the caretaking of the artwork and the protection of Nancy Holt’s vision,” said Jessica Morgan, Dia’s director. “With this in mind, it is imperative to make a thorough assessment of the condition of the work and ensure that any issues were addressed immediately. The conservation work we are now embarking on will secure this work for future generations, demonstrating Dia’s strong commitment to the preservation and stewardship of the Land art in our collection.”

Led by Rosa Lowinger, a team of conservators will address cracks in the concrete and damage sustained by erosion, since the tunnels are exposed to extreme temperatures and weather conditions year-round. The project will take place over the course of ten days beginning in May.

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