Some 50 years after Michael Heizer began working there, the artist’s extensive installation Town is ready to start welcoming its first visitors. Starting this Friday, a select few will be able to make the pilgrimage to Heizer’s monumental sculpture in the Nevada desert, marking the first time the general public will see the artwork in its fully completed state.
But what is Town, anyway, and how can you see it in person? Below is your guide to Heizer and its latest creation.
what is it exactly Town?
Over a mile and a half long, Town is one of the greatest works of art in the world. Heizer has been working on it since the 70s, and it is intended to look like a huge urban complex. But the city imagined by Heizer bears no resemblance to the current urban megalopolises. Rather, it is meant to recall prehistoric forms, with gigantic abstract forms composed of sand, cement, and other materials emerging from the Nevada desert.
Great. How can I see it?
Here’s where things get tricky: Town, unlike many other works by Heizer, is neither easy to access nor affordable to view. You can ask to visit Town by emailing the Triple Aught Foundation, which manages the artwork. At present, you can apply to book to see the work between September 2 and November 1 this year, although more details are expected to be announced soon.
Sounds pretty easy, right? Well, not quite.
The New York Times reported that six reservations will be supported daily and each is $150. Residents of neighboring Lincoln, Nye and White Plain counties can go for free, although this deal only applies to about 60,000 people. If you’re one of the lucky ones lucky enough to go, expect a lot of walking – there would be no benches.
Where is Town?
This, to some extent, is a secret. According to Timevisitors from Town getting picked up in the “nearby” town of Alamo, Nevada. They are then dropped off at the facility, which they are allowed to roam for a few hours. (There’s no gift shop, so no need to schedule time for that.) Beyond that, official word on the location of Heizer’s greatest work of art is scarce.
But there have been unofficial details released on Town, courtesy of none other than Google Maps. On Twitter, eagle-eyed museum employee Bryan Hilley Noted that, for a short time, Google Maps had listed Town at coordinates 38°01’59.5″N 115°26’37.0″W. Then, mysteriously enough, the official list of Town completely gone. If you plug these coordinates into Google Maps, you can still see, via satellite view, the shape of Heizer located in the desert, where it appears as a geographical anomaly.
Who is Michael Heizer and what is his problem?
You might be wondering now what would someone possess to build a mile-and-a-half-long facility, and Heizer has been working on a large scale for years, creating some of the essential pieces of the land art movement of the ’70s. Land art, sometimes known as earthworks, grew out of the conceptual and minimalist art movements and marked an attempt by its purveyors to completely merge art with nature. As with the works of his late colleagues Robert Smithson, Walter De Maria and Nancy Holt, Heizer’s art often takes the form of minimalist forms that appear in remote and often arid environments.
Occasionally, Heizer’s work also appeared in museums and galleries. Dia:Beacon in New York, for example, has the facility North East South West (1967/2002), which has four holes drilled into the floor of the gallery, two of which are precisely cut squares. But Heizer remains best known for his permanent interventions in the American landscape, among which Double negative (1969), which involved digging a trench in the Moapa Valley near Overton, Nevada.
Heizer used natural materials, such as gigantic stones and sand, and manufactured them using industrial means. he once referred to his practice as a “construction business”. Presented in a grandiose and often epic manner, Heizer’s projects display a muscular and macho sensibility. They also often contain a mysterious quality, prompting viewers to wonder how his materials ended up where they did.
How did you Town become?
Heizer built Town piece by piece over time, but due to the large amount of financing required to support such a large undertaking, the construction process was slow and sporadic. The first part of Town has been A complexwhich Heizer created between 1972 and 1976. It features an elevated shape with a tilted slide to Zoser’s Step Pyramid, which Heizer saw while visiting Luxor, Egypt.
Complex Of them followed in the 80s and continued Heizer’s visual references to ancient cultures. It was the same for another element of City, 45°, 90°, 180°.
How much did Town cost, and who funded it?
In total, Town cost $40 million to produce. The Dia Art Foundation and the Lannan Foundation have invested a good amount of money to help make the project happen, although there are many more individuals and institutions that have supported it over the years. The Triple Augh Foundation, which Heizer established to manage the project, helped oversee all of this funding. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art and the Glenstone Museum have been tasked with continuing to ensure that Town will be retained for years to come.
Were there threats of Town before?
Yes. Over the years, politicians have made a few attempts to develop local industries in such a way as to alter the lands on which Town is defined. During the 1970s and 1980s, some politicians planned to install railroad tracks there that would transport ballistic missiles between hidden silos. This plan was canceled after Ronald Reagan, who was then president, vetoed it.
Then in the 2010s, Nevada Senator Harry Reid again saved Townwhen he successfully lobbied President Barack Obama to prevent the earth from becoming a nuclear waste site. Under Obama’s law, the 700,000 acres of land surrounding Town cannot be mined or drilled for oil, and the artwork itself cannot be destroyed.
What did Heizer say about Town?
Exactly that – that he wants City to stand the test of time immemorial. Meet Heizer talking to New Yorker in 2016: “When they come here to fuck me Town sculpture, they will realize that it takes more energy to destroy it than it is worth.
Where can I see more photos of Town?
There is a ART news slideshow for it.