Critics’ Picks

Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison, Hog Pasture: Survival Piece #1, 1970–71, wooden container of earth with light box of equal size above, 48 x 96 x 144".

Los Angeles

“Ends of the Earth”

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA)
250 South Grand Avenue
May 27 - September 3

In the first major museum exhibition dedicated to Land art, curators Philipp Kaiser and Miwon Kwon deliver a worthy retrospective of the varied media and geographical locations of its formative years. As thematized in the show and elaborated on in its beautifully produced catalogue, the incorporation of earth as material and metaphor into the production of art during the late 1960s was not a development limited exclusively to American and western European artists; nor was Land art wholly a practice of creating sculpture with the earth at outdoor sites. “Ends of the Earth” instead underscores the diverse output of artists’ engagement with land. Newton and Helen Mayer Harrison’s seminal Hog Pasture: Survival Piece #1, 1970–71, is one highlight; significantly, it is being displayed in Southern California some forty-one years after the couple’s Survival Piece #2 at LACMA’s “Art and Technology” show effectively announced a new commitment to ecological sustainability within the history of postwar Land art. Another standout is a video display of “Land Art,” a groundbreaking group of films that Gerry Schum and Ursula Wevers’s Television Gallery commissioned from European and American artists and then broadcast on April 15, 1969, as the sole content of the gallery’s inaugural exhibition. Charles Ross’s solar burns, Summer June 21 – September 21, 1971, and Winter December 23, 1971 – March 19, 1972, look as freshly charred as the season in which they were first carved out by the sun; and the exhibition also presents several works from Japan’s Group “i,” including the pile of gravel titled E. Jari, fashioned here for the first time since its initial presentation in Osaka in 1966.