AMIDST THE RUINS
I grew up on stories of Greek mythology, daydreaming about what it might be like to live as a goddess. Hera and Artemis were always my favorites - beautiful, powerful, and not always perfect. But it wasn't so much the stories, but rather the idea of a rich world that came before me. I wondered about the little things just as much as the big things. What was the everyday like? Favorite foods? Do dieties pee like the rest of us?
Noah Purifoy has that same draw for me - there is a sense of history here - not just in the fact that this incredible art site was created so many years ago (I often imagine it being built - how I would have loved to see the progress), but also because there is a sense of absence that makes you so aware - so aware that this sense of absence becomes one of the most present things about the place.
I think this partially comes from the often intentional unfinished look of each piece, and the space that is left for interpretation, with some being more allegorical than others. But it also comes from the fact that these sculptures were created to deteriorate with the elements over time - in fact, I find that to be a big part of the work itself, layering moments in time over other moments, weaving together the fragments to create a story. There's also a tension in so many of the pieces, some being politically or racially charged - but that are still left abstract to an extent. My favorite being these ancient ruins, and the massive rock wrapped crudely in wire, left to hang above a piece of glass until one day, the inevitable happens.
A friend and I were just recently discussing about how much we've learned about the people we bring to this special place. Their reactions to specific pieces of work or the general place itself tell so much about your internal dialogue and what you value.
If you ever find yourself in Joshua Tree, this is a must-stop. And there's a chance you'll learn a lot about yourself and not just the artwork.