Broken Ground:
New Directions in Land Art

Essays by William Fox and Dan Torop


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Land Art, as it is talked about in the context of contemporary art, was one of the seminal movements beginning in the late 1960s that led to a radically changed view of how we define art today. Largely born out of a frustration with the growing commercialization of the art world and the limitations the traditional “white cube” gallery offered as site for experiencing works of art, at its core this movement sought to tie together artwork and the landscape into which the works were inextricably merged.  

This book asks, what is the new face of Land Art fifty years after its birth? Who are its practitioners? And, perhaps most importantly, how have the ideas and practices evolved to address the challenges and concerns of today?  

One theme explored in this book is how the role of the artist is beginning to shift from actor to witness. Instead of instigating changes to the land, artists are using their work to document and assess the far greater ecological damage and transformation to our landscapes born out of irresponsible economic and environmental policies. Conversely, others are investigating the temporality of our impact, demonstrating that given time, any human mark within the landscape will eventually erode away.  

Additional themes addressed include a perceived dislocation from the landscapes we occupy (in favor of climate controlled and virtual spaces), the politics of borders and fences, and the unsatisfactory preparation provided by past and contemporary myths when addressing collective challenges. While Land Art is a staple of any rigorous survey of contemporary art, what is being researched in Broken Ground is the legacy of Land Art and its evolution from a largely coherent practice into an incredibly diverse range of explorations by a new generation of artists.

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