Plants, Stone, California Landscapes


Richard Long

In Spain I also rode my bike through the Isla de Esculturas, a little island with a sculpture collection that includes a Richard Long stone line. That’s of course not me in the drone video above, I found this video on the internet after my trip, but I did that exact thing, riding my bike past the line, and I’m a little obsessed with this video; it captures my memory of that day and even something of the feeling of riding a bike through Europe. Long says his work is about walking, but I’ve mostly seen it as 2D images, shapes he’s created in the landscape or in a museum. This was the first time I really experienced his work as movement. I took photos of the line, and I like them, I like how his line resembles the remains of an old stone wall you might see alongside a road or path, but there is a subtle but distinctly experiential effect of the line when you see it in person and I think you can see it in the video too. And also I love when the dog appears in the video.

Richard Long has been hit or miss for me, but over time I’ve realized that I’ve liked everything that he sited and built himself, while every time I’ve seen one of his works that was sited and built by other people — I’ve seen a couple of his stone circles that had been installed by teams of volunteers — I’ve thought it was lame. I kind of respect that after he’s finished a piece, he’s fine with a crew packing it up and shipping it somewhere else and then a bunch of strangers putting it back together in its new home, but I think that shows how much his work really is site specific and how it’s tied to his participation in a specific experience and place. Like the bad cover songs that make you realize how good the original is.

I thought the rest of the sculpture collection was pretty weak, but the island’s a nice spot, with several nice bridges and a swimming beach across the river. I ate peaches and watched ducks and enjoyed the sunshine, before continuing on my way.

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