Living and working [out of Los Angeles], Ali Beletic creates an experience allowing access to ancient emotions and latent instincts through her conceptual art installations. From traditional gallery and field work to adventure-driven parties, Beletic’s intention is to evoke wild instincts within the context of the art world. And so the motives such as primeval rituals, vast natural spaces and liberating journeys carry throughout her work, inviting the viewers – or participants – to recreate the experience of their ancestors."  - Ignant

Ali Beletic is a conceptual artist sculpturally working within historic traditions as a means to create evocative experiences for the modern art community to have access to 360 degree sensual experiences.  Her installations include Earth Art Ceremonies, Vanguard Parties and Environments. 

STATEMENT OF INTENT

My work deals with the rich history that humanity has in its past.  I am constantly trying to create a space / experience where the modern art-goer can be reminded of their own sensual nature - most importantly on a visceral level.  Usually I choose materials that I believe are evocative to our physiological makeup.

When I decided to take 2 years and move to the Sonoran desert, I was at a very specific point in my naturalist studies.  Every day there, I would hike into trackless wilderness and sit for an hour observing the wildlife, the changing landscape, the weather patterns, etc. I took on a new experience there. I got to know and love that landscape so deeply.  There was a dove that sat next to me every day, and deer, coyotes, javelina, a fos, snakes, you name it, would wander through daily.  Even a mountain lion lived there that I had the good fortune to see once.  When you look at things deeply there is always so much more.  I learned so much about the land there and formed a strong emotional connection.  I remember having a sensation that I might move away from the home I was living in and not fully be able to return, but that I could always come back and it would be a sort of home, a place I was welcome.  That feeling, in my opinion, is the basis of our humanity.  It is my intention to invoke latent instincts and wild emotions within the context of the art world.  

I have created a contemporary art practice based on these naturalist and anthopological inspirations, in dialogue with traditions and mediums that reside in the art world.  I see myself working in the traditions of several different contemporary artists - the powerful, out of the box, punk spirit of Gordon Matta-Clark, Alan Kaprow and the happening, the sculptural purpose and ancient time scale of Michael Heizer, the conceptual intermingling with the sensual of James Turrell, Cai Guo-Qiang's sense of ritual, and Richard Long's primitivist scale.

 

Illuminated Passage
2015
Light
1/4 Square Mile

Light Sculpture installed into a granite boulder field that attendees were invited to hike/climb through.  The sculpture revealed itself as the sun set.  Installed at Boxo Projects in Joshua Tree as part of the Joshua Tree Arts Festival curated by Boxo Projects and Metacurator.

 

 

Pray for Rain
2013
Mahogany, Glass, Rainwater
242 x 57 x 12

Pray for Rain was inspired by the Kula Ring in the Massim Archipelago and many other gift exchanges of primitive cultures and aims to gift exchange with the earth - a return of these life giving waters for evaporation back into the cycle of water at the end of monsoon season in Arizona.    

Installing the pools into a remote hike in location in the Sonoran Desert was arduous and mythic.  Hand building the sculptures over the course of several weeks, hand carrying them into the desert, sourcing water and hauling in rain to be returned to the earth.    

Invitees were given a map, to drive to the remote location and then hike in a mile to come to the art opening.  The ceremonial aspect of the work began at dusk, unbeknownst to the attendees.  This performance was inspired by a conversation I had while recording with the Drum group AFI in Cape Coast, Ghana in 2009.  Kweku, the bandleader, and I talked about how their ancestors would use drums to communicate distances.  I was excited to recreate this experience for those present.  The mountain at the location talked back during the performance.  The echo was at least a whole second delay.  By the end of the performance it was last light and the full moon just rising.  The drummers throughout the landscape created an intimidating and cacophonous drum experience.  The ceremony continued using lights and the familiar fragrance of the creosote desert plant released by rain.

Brass and Ceramic Firebowls  [Reflections on Artifacts]
2016
Brass, Clay
86" x 33" & "72 x 33"

These Brass and Ceramic Firebowls are the newest sculptural work in my Reflections in Artifacts series,  a broad sculptural project initially intended as creating works based on primitive methods, philosophies, technologies and artifacts. There are so many ways of knowing and we are left only remnants.  

The series is intended to be in dialogue with the strong connection that runs through the endeavors of human beings and the many ways of knowing.  These new works in the series mark a development in concept, departing from tradition and form, creating new works based on bringing these ancestral inspirations into the modern age.  

Collaboration with the artwise ceramist Romy Northover of Studio No.

Under The Same Sun
2014
Motorcycle, Dirt
1 Square Mile

I see my artwork in the lineage of the Earth Artists. One of my favorites being Michael Heizer, a renegade artist who left New York in the 60ʼs to make monumental sculptural works out West, most famously Double Negative. I have long been inspired by a series he did in the seventies called Land Drawings - some of which he made using a motorbike, literally drawing into the earth with bikes.  I was excited to do a large scale work in the tradition of Heizerʼs piece as part of the series I am currently producing out in the Mojave desert.

As I was out there, creating the piece. So much was going through my mind. All of it had been pre-meditated, but still - the moment, the endurance, the perfect circle, a racetrack with no straightaway. The piece is about the sun, and the sun was blocking my view of the track, and i was marking its trace. The track was invisible, and I was thinking about the old Dakota saying, about being remembered by the tracks we leave behind, and here I am making a circle track. While I was working with this concept on paper, I was obsessing over circles and their historic relevance to societies and societyʼs architecture informing a societyʼs language, but even more so, fundamental understanding -- the profound effects of sitting in a circle as a discussion and so on. 

I had wanted this piece to be three dimensional, whereas to my understanding Heizerʼs concept was more of a drawing. And the dust I was kicking up was 3 dimensional and being lit in a circle through the setting sunlight. Kicking up the dust - the dust from the tracks I was digging into the earth. I remember thinking about Kivaʼs being dug into the ground as a symbolic link, for the Pueblo people, to their ancestral underworld. Honestly, I have no idea what that means, but I was there circling, thinking about our ancestry, our history, the movement of the sun or the earth - depending on your perspective - it wasnʼt an ellipse though - it was a circle - with the same torque and the same endurance the whole way out - I would speed up, but I would skid. And I was thinking about the ruts we all create in our lives, the tracks, following that same track, with the same speed, and it felt very relevant that I was out there on my dirtbike, expressing all this, in this beautiful manner, remembering  why we set out to dirtbike in the first place - and that giving us that sense of attention and present focus that is so specific to this work, Under the Same Sun, and being out on a bike.

I am not sure exactly the place where Heizerʼs work stopped and my own started, but I believe itʼs less about that and more about the human spirit.

And from a distance it looked so beautiful. 


90 degrees, 270 degrees. The final remaining drawing had 4 different sized circles, each which determined how fast I could ride, with openings to the sunrise and the sunset over the course of the week it took me to create it. Ending on the equinox, when the sun rises due east and sets due west - as well as for the week to follow - when it will degrade and return to the earth from the elements, the rain and the movement of the sun. 

Archetypal Symbols.

 

The mineral paintings series was inspired, alongside my other recent works, to focus on a primitivist and archetypal perspective – choosing to work alongside the natural raw and rugged beauty of ancient technology, natural materials and mythological shapes.  The intention of using these universal references to light, primitive survival, architecture & art, symbolism, natural shapes, mythological and storytelling from ancient and cultures throughout humanity’s history is intended to employ a Jungian archetypal celebration, hoping to bring to mind simple, beautiful, sensual responses and power which has been passed through generations.

The paintings themselves are designed to be viewed in more than one direction.  When viewed from the side and lit, the minerals glow in a beautiful and awe-inspiring contrast to the matte canvas.  Each mineral is selected carefully and crushed down to a fine powder to be used for its own natural beauty in color and intrinsic properties.

While working on several large-scale sculptural works in Arizona I started the mineral painting series as a gallery analogue to the work I was doing out in the field. Painting with the mineral rich earth and hidden deposits beneath our feet with their intense array of color, beauty and innate worth was an excellent way to bring my Earth Art Ceremonies into the gallery and collector’s homes.

 

Available at the LA Gallery Tappan Collective.

 

 
ali beletic mineral paintings
ali beletic ochre paintings

Horizon Parallel
2015
Flame, Motorcycles
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. 

Light Oasis
2016
Light
1/4 Square Mile

Light Sculpture installed into a dried rushes field that attendees were invited to meander through.  The sculpture revealed itself as the sun set.  Reflection in geography, as the sun sets creating an isolated area of vegetation in a desert, surrounded by the absent light of day. 

Lunar Ceremony
2015
Flourescence
100' diameter

The fourth of my Installation series for the Mojave.

Always showing the same face, synchronous rotation, our only satellite, surrounded by a trace of infinite dust.

Waxing and Waning the formation of the most ancient calendars.  Over the course of the Lunar cycle, from New Moon to New Moon - the course of 29.6 days, patterning the phases.  Lighting up the the phases of the moon peacefully, from a hidden plateau in the Mojave desert.  Ancient ritual, and symbolic parts of self, as rising and setting with the moon, however only revealed as the night falls to dusk.  Circular in nature, but remaining parts, illuminated and drawn into Jungian shadow.  Relevant and reflected into the sky. 

Canoe Fire
2013
Acacia wood, Acacia branches, Canoe and Paddle, Flame
1 Square Mile

Humanity feels the liveliness, archaism, and the elemental beauty of fire naturally.  It really doesn't take much provocation in an artistic sense.  The eloquent movement of the flames in the wind, or the speaking of the fuel turning to ash when drawn near to it.  The mysterious movement of light illuminating, reflecting cast onto, around and prohibited by the sculptural dimension of space and material that surround, creates a reflective and mesmerizing calm that so many of us sense as part of our evolutionary history. n artwork the focus is to create an evocative experience for the modern art community to have access to ancient emotions, latent instincts and 360 Degree sensual experiences.  

Canoe Fire was a series of many small fires I floated onto a lake in Arizona to create a sculpture which moved and floated in the wind and the water.  The ceremony was exquisitely beautiful.

Ice Fire Compass
2013
Ice Blocks, Acacia, Flame
32' x 30" x 45"

Sculptural Ice block with a  fire built on top of it, which melted internally to glow in the compass directions.  Beautifully the cardinal directions were mapped by shadow.  The blocks of ice were glowing witht the color put off by the heat of the fire.  The steam buring off the ice displayed the wind direction.

 
ice-firecompass-alibeletic996x1024.jpg

Desert Table
2013
Oak, Rocks
30' x 30' x 28"

Site specific sculptural table I built into the Sonoran desert - breaking the horizon, continuing the road.  Hand carrying 30 foot oak beams up to the top of a Tucson Mountain through the raw desert was arduous and mythic for a team of 4.   To celebrate the final build, an inagural party was thrown at the top of the hill as an ode to Gordon Matta Clark and Carol Gooden’s famous project Food.

 

Tule Surfboard
2012
Tule Reeds, Lashing
6' x 22" x 12"

 

The 36th Hour of my long winded stay, rotary style on grassy pasture, surrounded by whims of cattails, local hollering, bright skies, crisp weather, a diverse reach of ranchers and earth ecstatic rugged life-folk, I found myself birdman style snaking through ponds filled with various valuable, murky, and beautiful reeds on one of those hot Idahoan mornings.  Fresh, mossy and extraordinarily clean. I was taking a knife and a fairly sharp one at that, grabbing the Tule reed at its base, telling the reed, this is going to hurt and thanks in advance in case that helps.  Lining the knife across at a diagonal angle and cutting the stalk free of the root. I stacked the cut reeds in various places afloat throughout the pond. Miraculously, yet unsurprisingly the bundles floated around me contentedly showing off their inner layering of hollow, yes, hollow reedlike buoyancy. I carefully meandered so as not to take too much from each patch and spied the duck hunters camo-ing up in the mud patch across the way.  I laid the rushes in the sun to dry. 

A native Hawaiian, who came to California years ago to teach primitive skills, showed me how to lash the reeds as the Ohlone of Miwok Bay had done to make their fishing boats. Because of my love of surfing, we lashed the reeds together with two bundles and shaped them with rocker and tail.

Traveling on the road, through midnight skies, torrential rains, game commissions, in and out of houses, piled into and on top of the car, this now beatnik symbol came to reflect so accurately and intertwine among trips to the beach and new ventures in surf lifestyle.

Stopped by agricultural control at the border of California to check that the rushes had dried. We made it down to the Southern California coast and put it out on the water.