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URBAN LAND ART
Land Art in the urban environment
50X80m reservoir and 30X30m island with osier - 1982|1985/∞ - photo©Jos WesdijkIn my own definition I described Land Art as: “by reason, site specific - it is made on location, from the materials one finds on that location. But, since there are no laws regulating art, using any exotic element or material cannot be outlawed. Robert Smithson, with his Asphalt Rundown, did just that.” Only during the last years I’ve started to realize that it may be more appropriate to describe my environmental sculptural projects in urban area as “urban land art”. I use materials which are native to a certain area and rearrange them to create an environment which will distinguish itself from its surroundings. This is much the same as land art in the art-historic sense, but the difference is that the available materials are also those from which the urban area has been built. My original term environmental sculpture still covers that, but it can also be applied to land art - as they are synonyms. Because I often incorporate aspects and materials of the original land (before the urban transformations has taken over), I use the term urban land art, opposed to urban environmental art, which for me leaves too much room for interpretation – especially since the term environmental has also been adopted to describe art which concerns itself ecological issues. Because it is often too late to save some original natural aspects of a landscape and have them framed by the new urban- or suburban fabric which replaced the natural situation – I reintroduce them.
There are various forms which can be categorized as urban land art. And also works which fall under this name will evolve and result in unexpected examples. There is also a lot of misinterpretation going on; the fact that many of Andy Goldsworthy’s works are categorized as land art does not automatically mean that applying autumn leaves to a stoplight is urban land art.