‘City’, the city of the future designed by Michael Heizer finally sees the light after 50 years of construction

Located in the Basin and Range National Monument area, Cityof Michael Heizer, has no comparison. Although its geometric shapes, smooth and sharp at the same time, may remind you of the set of a science fiction movie or an ancient lost city, the truth is that it is not like anything we have seen before. With an extension of almost two and a half kilometers and about eight hundred meters wide, this pharaonic project has taken fifty years to see the light “When Michael Heizer started this project in 1972 he was looking for large open spaces with enough natural resources to carry it out. It was in Garden Valley, Nevada, where his family settled in the 19th century, that the young artist decided to unleash his project,” explains Kara Vander Weg, director of the Gagosian gallery and vice president of the Triple Aught Foundation. , created in 1998 to exploit City. Half a century later, this ghost town of the futureinspired by his father’s archaeological investigations in Egypt.

The monumental forms of City They stand out against a sky brimming with light.

© Triple Aught Foundation

Local materials and minimalist aesthetics

At its ends, two structures –Complex One y 45°, 90°, 180°– between which unfolds a lunar landscape of pure lines. Composed of cavities and mounds of rock, sand and vegetation traced in a line, it offers multiple points of view on the surrounding space. Complex One It is the first work on which the sculptor, who is over 70 years old, has worked, and it presents quadrangular volumes of concrete, steel and stone, similar to a mastaba or a pyramid imagined by the first peoples. On the other hand, the triangular and rectangular shapes of 45°, 90°, 180°with mysterious elevations and inclinations, evolve in and play of light changing.

“Her vocabulary, with its minimalist aesthetic, continues with her studies from the 1960s,” says Kara Vander Weg, who also points out that “City uses a language reminiscent of his negative sculptures, created for the first time in 1967, and captured in 1969 in his work Double Negative on Mormon Mesa, near Overton, Nevada. Complex One it also refers to his early abstract paintings.” During the colossal construction process, the artist was able to think and rethink his first designs, making multiple adjustments. “Of course, he drew up the blueprints that guided his beginnings,” he adds, “but his intentions evolved and required, over time, additional improvements made. on site“. Annexes for a titanic construction that, finally, has cost a total of 40 million dollars. Initially financed by the artist, the project gradually attracted numerous donors and institutional supports, such as the Dia Art Foundation of New York and its patrons, as well as the MoMA from New York and the Lannan Foundation of New Mexico. To create this vast maze of almost brutalist shapes, Heizer used local materials. The clay, sand and rocks of this sun-scorched wilderness were collected using methods that respect the flora and fauna. “The environmental issue is crucial for Heizer”, says Kara Vander Weg, “City it was built disturbing the habitat as little as possible. Visitors can discover native vegetation, birds and other wildlife.