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

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The slush of the city evaporates from the artist s mind as he installs his art… A consciousness of the desert operates between craving and satiety.»[46] The desert becomes a conceptual space for regeneration and deterritorialization. Urban territorialism makes room for a type of subjectivity composed of absolute absence. This subjectivity is not without image and costume. In a photo taken by Nancy Holt in 1968, Smithson photographs his colleague and friend, Michael Heizer, in the California desert at Mono Lake. The two were making a Super-8 movie here, and each artist was suitably attired: blue jeans (pants and jacket), boots, and white hats. They were cinematic earth art cowboys, pioneers on the path to a new frontier or to the promised land, California. In the same year, 1968, Smithson offered a relativization: «[c]inematic «appearance» took over completely sometime in the late 50s.» He makes reference to a remark made by Vladimir Nabokov about the «selfdestructive world of the postcard.» What is generally called « Nature falls into an infinite series of movie «stills.» ..»[47] Photography is making nature obsolete.[48] One year prior to that, Smithson had written «A Tour of the


Monuments of Passaic, New Jersey,» his report of a trip to a quite unspectacular, «ugly,» desolate, overdeveloped, «post-industrial» area outside New York (a «utopia without ground«). Everything seemed to be a film image to Smithson. The wasted industrial landscape, cluttered with drainage pipes and scrap metal (not unlike Antonioni's «Il Deserto rosso»), surrounded its visitor like a film. «When I walked on the bridge, it was as though I was walking on an enormous photograph that was made of wood and steel, and underneath the river existed as an enormous movie film that showed nothing but a continuous blank.»[49] Instead of becoming a stage, the neglected suburban landscape becomes a movie, without Smithson having to resort to categories such as «dream» or «fantasy.» There is no longer any distance between cinematic visualization and its object. A sandbox in a playground is the last of the cinematic «monuments» Smithson sought out on his tour. He calls it a «model desert.» «Under the dead light of the Passaic afternoon the desert became a map of infinite disintegration and forgetfulness… Every grain of sand was a dead metaphor that equaled timelessness, and to decipher

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