70' x 10" x 10"
The Mojave Desert is a place the American psyche has turned it’s heart to, a unique place in our personal mythology. The poetry of the harshest and most rugged terrain upon which some of our go west, rugged individualism, survivalist identity has been formed. The vastness, the quiet, the trackless landscape. The playas, dried remnant of a prehistoric time are symbol to the ever changing, and the slow timescale of the earth. There is an open story of abstraction and projection alongside the prehistoric remnants that makeup the Mojave. This famous California desert has the perfect intersection between off-road culture, speed trials and earth art, both in it’s history and also it’s present. I was inspired, and I wanted to work on a sculpture that dialogued with this mythopoetic space.
It only seemed fitting to create this piece out in the backcountry, taking a journey and setting out to see if I could find one of those iconic vast Mojave canvases that was that was blank, unpaved, off road and not accessible by anything but bike. This place existed in my mind, but I had to go find it.
Riding out into backcountry is tough. You aren’t really going fast. You’re in soft sand and picking your way through it. We were riding vintage enduros back there. And one of the bikes was from ’74. These bikes are different, they are heavier and they don’t handle like a modern dirtbike. But that’s the way it is out in the wild. Everything depends on you, having enough water, knowing how to read the weather, how to backtrack and know your orientation, how to stay warm, make your own light and so on. That is survival, you really have to learn to depend on yourself, but that feeling of independence, and ultimately interdependence with the earth, is really in my opinion, one of our most fundamental powers and a very real source of joy.
We were all packed up over the back of the bikes. And that’s why I love those bikes - they are tough and well built and you can take them anywhere. The whole world is there for you to roam and in the desert - it’s pretty wide open - so you can ride anywhere. We were picking over rocks and into new territory. We were riding on backroads and dried lake beds. We spied this small passageway up and through the rocks that we could slip through. Just through this rock crevice canyon was this phenomenal natural amphitheater, bowl shaped enclave, hidden. It was dusk, so we unpacked to the sounds of the coyotes down in the playa below.
Most of my art practice is based on getting us back in touch with some latent instincts that I think we left out there in the bush. While we were riding during night fall, we really got that sensation of the wide open blank vast space, the giant infinity around us, and the open sky. That’s not an intellectual experience, its a sensual one. No matter which direction, you are riding toward a horizon, something far and ahead of you that you can’t see. You are making a perpendicular axis, dividing the circular earth with parallel lines, dividing the circle boundary of your range of vision. You sort of spread out over the land spatially. You start to think of yourself separating yesterday and tomorrow and there’s a relationship to speed. It felt as though we were out there in the middle of nowhere cutting the day and night in half.
Human beings are a gold mine. Boldness, backcountry, riding, sensual experience that goes out beyond your skin, loudness, speed, these aren’t just concepts, these are lifestyles. Sometimes you have to burn a blaze, or head out into the middle of nowhere, or ride desert at night, to enliven your sensuality. You are a shapeshifter and you’ve got the power. It’s ancient, it’s in your skin.