The Site

There was a moment of
uncertainty. What if
I didn’t recognize it?
This site I had seen
a hundred times
in a photo.
This site that
really only existed
on the edge of my
imagination.

A nonsite.

It felt like we were
driving to the edge
of the world.
The road kept
curving before us,
making false promises
of a new view so
many times I wondered
if we had taken a
turn too soon or maybe
she meant “right and then left”.
The clouds stay low and grey,
the grass always green,
the constant gravel
road gently rising and
dipping, cows looking up
curiously with sleepy eyes,
rocks multiplying as
they lead their way
up the foothills.

Logically, I knew
it was there. I hadn’t
figured out how to read
the website concerning
the water levels, so
I just kept hoping the
water would be shallow
enough for us to see
the pink waters swirling
around it so that I
could dip my toes in.

There it is! I mean, the lake,
I don’t think that’s the
Jetty.
It was too straight
and the water wasn’t
pink. Anticipation
started to build. I felt
like I was coming back
home to see a long lost
cousin. I leaned forward,
my hands pressing into
the front corners of my
seat, my eyes searching the
water’s edge as it
began to recede.

Another turn up the hill.

Another line of rocks.

Shorter.

Curved.

That’s it!

I must have tried getting
out of the car. “Okay!
We’re almost there!”

The road kept climbing up.
The pink waters lay on
the horizon, just out of reach.

Then there was the end of
the road.

And the end of the world
sitting just below me.

Here is where history
repeated itself. Repeats
itself. On this site. I
sat on the edge of the hill,
the pilgrimage too steep and
rocky for me to complete,
forever the observer.
The view was beautiful.
The clouds low and grey
over us, the waters
seeming to cut into
the mountains on the
horizon and leading
toward forever, the
Spiral surrounded by sand,
except for a few small
puddles of salty pink,
leading me back to shore,
and the wind just enough
to remind me to breathe.

Katerina Marks
23 May 2016
I visited the Spiral Jetty, an earthwork by Robert Smithson, on 20 May 2016.
It is intact for me.

The Power of the World (Series)

PotW_2-1-3
“The Power of the World (II, I, III)” by Katerina Marks; gesso, acrylic paint, pencil, oil pastel, and Prismacolor marker on wooden boards

I’m working on my artist’s statement for this series and am hoping to have it finished by the end of the week. I just wanted to share them! ❤

immobile cyclone

“About one mile north of the oil seeps I selected my site. Irregular beds of limestone dip gently eastward, massive deposits of black basalt are broken over the peninsula, giving the region a shattered appearance. It is one of the few places on the lake where the water comes right up to the mainland. Under the shallow pinkish water is a network of mud cracks supporting the jig-saw puzzle that composes the salt flats. As I looked at the site, it reverberated out to the horizons only to suggest an immobile cyclone while flickering light made the entire landscape appear to quake. A dormant earthquake spread into the fluttering stillness, into a spinning sensation without movement. This site was a rotary that enclosed itself in an immense roundness. From that gyrating space emerged the possibility of the Spiral Jetty. No ideas, no concepts, no systems, no structures, no abstractions could hold themselves together in the actuality of that evidence. My dialectics of site and nonsite whirled into an indeterminate state, where solid and liquid lost themselves in each other. It was as if the mainland oscillated with waves and pulsations, and the lake remained rock still. The shore of the lake became the edge of the sun, a boiling curve, an explosion rising into a fiery prominence. Matter collapsing into the lake mirrored in the shape of a spiral. No sense wondering about classifications and categories, there were none.”

– Excerpt taken from “The Spiral Jetty (1972)” by Robert Smithson; Robert Smithson: The Collected Writings, edited by Jack Flam

spiral_jetty_det2_big

symbol of all time

“The Oglala believe the circle to be sacred because the Great Spirit caused everything in nature to be round except stone. Stone is the implement of destruction. The sun and the sky, the earth and the moon are round like a shield, though the sky is deep like a bowl. Everything that breathes is round like the body of a man. Everything that grows from the ground is round like the stem of a tree. Since the Great Spirit has caused everything to be round mankind should look upon the circle as sacred for it is the symbol of all things in nature except stone. It is also the symbol of the circle that marks the edge of the world and therefore of the four winds that travel there. Consequently, it is also the symbol of a year. The day, the night, and the moon go in a circle above the sky. Therefore the circle is a symbol of these divisions of time and hence the symbol of all time.

For these reasons the Oglala make their tipis circular, their camp circle circular, and sit in a circle in all ceremonies. The circle is also the symbol of the tipi and of shelter. If one makes a circle for an ornament and it is not divided in any way, it should be understood as the symbol of the world and of time. If, however, the circle be filled with red, it is the symbol of the sun; if filled with blue, it is the symbol of the sky. If the circle is divided into four parts, it is the symbol of the four winds; if it is divided into more than four parts, it is the symbol of a vision of some kind. If a half circle is filled with red it represents a day; filled with black, the night; filled with yellow, a moon or month. On the other hand, if a half circle is filled with many colors, it symbolizes a rainbow.

One may paint or otherwise represent a circle on his tipi or his shield or his robe The mouth of a pipe should always be moved about in a circle before the pipe is formally smoked.”

The Sun Dance and Other Ceremonies of the Oglala Division of the Teton Dakota by James R. Walker

three circles

Go round

“It’s natural to go to round objects.” – artist friend

I started thinking about the size of circles the other day and realized we use them to define even the smallest things. For example:

atoms-and-molecules

Wait! They really are round!

 

“A circle is the only geometric shape defined by its centre. No chicken and egg about it, the centre came first, the circumference follows. The earth, by definition, has a centre. And only the fool that knows it can go wherever he pleases, knowing the centre will hold him down, stop him flying out of orbit. But when your sense of centre shifts, comes whizzing to the surface, the balance has gone…” ― Sarah Kane

center-of-the-earth-cover

Then there’s the sun:

eithe_981211

Beyond that, we’re all rotating. See?

m31_ware_big

They say the entire universe is expanding at the same rate. I pictured lungs inhaling.

“…the Power of the World always works in circles…” Black Elk, “Black Elk Speaks” by John G. Neihardt

It’s natural to go round.

By the way, all the pictures are linked back to their original sites. Please check them out! They’re all super neat!