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Themesicon: navigation pathArt and Cinematographyicon: navigation pathDeserts of the Political

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Smithson, who could never do without a selected motto or quotation, introduced a section on the term «desert» with two short quotes.[38] The first one is: «The world disintegrates around me,» a statement that Yvonne Rainer added to the program for her 1968 piece, The Mind is a Muscle. Its context is a short piece of selfreassurance in which Rainer reflects upon the position of her artistic work in relation to a «world in crisis« a place where the television shows a Vietnamese person being shot to death and the militarized organization of feminism is immanent.[39] The second quote is: «By Palm Desert springs often run dry.» Smithson had taken it from the back cover of «Song Cycle,» Van Dyke Parks first solo album. Parks was a former Hollywood child actor and young songwriter genius from Los Angeles who had already worked with Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys.[40] The line comes from the song «Palm Desert,» which compares old Hollywood to the industrial «banks of toxicity,» and alludes to the fading of the old film era and its replacement with luxury desert oases such as Palm Desert: «Meanwhile in the wild west of Hollywood age is losing hold.» New York artist Rainer s


«disintegrated world» is the political desert, which Smithson describes two years later in his answer to the Artforum poll, using the image of the paralyzing, abhorrent whirlpool. Parks references to the age or the epoch loss of definition, and the dry fountains mentioned by Van Dyke Parks are connected to Californian land and resource management policies and environmental pollution, among other things. So there are two sorts of deserts: the political desert and the politicized one. As a discursive territory, it forms a kind of topography that intersects the modern and postmodern, a «projection surface,» not only for psychic and cultural circumstances, but also for various notions of «nature,» «landscape,» «humanism,» and «subjectivity.»

The Moral of the Spiral

In Alexandro Jodorowsky s «El Topo» (Mexico, 1971), the hero of the same name (played by Jodorowsky) must kill four master gunmen who live in the desert, in order to prove his love for a woman. Before he and his companion start, El Topo draws a spiral in the sand with a stick and says, «The desert is circular. To find the four masters, we ll have to travel in a spiral.»

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