New York – James Turrell: “Roden Crater and Autonomous Structures” at PACE Gallery Through April 20th, 2013

April 16th, 2013
James Turrell: A Retrospective James Turrell by Giménez, Trotman and Zajonc James Turrell: Geometry of Light
Click Here For James Turrell Books

 

James Turrell, Roden Crater (Sunset) (2009), via PACE Gallery
James Turrell, Roden Crater (Sunset) (2009), via PACE Gallery

In anticipation of his major, three-museum retrospective beginning next month in New York, Los Angeles and Houston, artist James Turrell is exhibiting a selection of mocels, photographs and designs from his ongoing Roden Crater Project at PACE Gallery’s 57th Street location.  Offering a complex portrait of the artist’s ambitious creative site, the show presents a look at Roden Crater as Turrell moves into the next stage of its construction.

James Turrell, Roden Crater and Autonomous Structures (Installation View), via PACE Gallery
James Turrell, Roden Crater and Autonomous Structures (Installation View), via PACE Gallery

Located in Northern Arizona’s Painted Desert, the Roden Crater is an enormous, 400,000 year old extinct volcano that Turrell has been transforming into an open-air observatory since the 1970’s.  Constructing observation spaces and structures at the site, the artist’s project turns the desert space into a realm of celestial encounter, accentuating the interplay of landscape and light across the crater’s enormous rock facade.  Upon completion, the work will stand in a class of its own, a strikingly expansive construction project that will turn this  stretch of land into a monument of interplay between light and space, earth and sky.

James Turrell, Outside In (1991), via PACE Gallery
James Turrell, Outside In (1991), via PACE Gallery

Influenced by the ancient observatories of Angkor Wat and Machu Picchu, Turrell takes the environmental character of the crater as his starting point, planning to use its central column to construct a naked-eye observatory, and circling this observation space with his signature “autonomous structures,” freestanding observatories that allow the desert light to play along the walls and floors of the space inside, creating a constantly shifting, fluid experience for visitors.  Turrell has included 15 models for these structures, varying in shape and scale, and illustrating his bold vision for the interaction of light and space in the Arizona desert.

James Turrell, Roden Crater and Autonomous Structures (Installation View), via PACE Gallery
James Turrell, Roden Crater and Autonomous Structures (Installation View), via PACE Gallery

The act of looking seems essential to each part of Turrell’s project, framing the space in, around and above Roden through his elaborately constructed spatial elements so that the viewer may engage with the space for themselves.  Even so, one cannot avoid a sense that Turrell is the one doing the looking, pointing the viewer’s eye at specific spaces and landscapes instead of presenting a wholly free experience. Turrell’s work is still wholly locative, wholly defined within a place, and he is still the one who frames the engagement with any light or space contained within.

James Turrell, Craignour (2010), via PACE Gallery
James Turrell, Craignour (2010), via PACE Gallery

Turrell complements his aspirations for Roden with the work already done, including a number of photographs, maps and charts documenting the artist’s surveying and planning for his project, as well as a selection of bronze-casted models of the observatory itself, showcasing the sheer scale of the project before construction could even begin.  As Turrell’s plan is set in motion, the many structures and models and view offer a promising look for the future of Roden Crater.

Roden Crater and Autonomous Structures is on view until April 20th.

James Turrell, Roden Crater and Autonomous Structures (Installation View), via PACE Gallery
James Turrell, Roden Crater and Autonomous Structures (Installation View), via PACE Gallery

James Turrell, Cold Storage (1989), via PACE Gallery
James Turrell, Cold Storage (1989), via PACE Gallery

James Turrell, Roden Crater and Autonomous Structures (Installation View), via PACE Gallery
James Turrell, Roden Crater and Autonomous Structures (Installation View), via PACE Gallery

—D. Creahan

Read more:
PACE Gallery
Roden Crater

 

 

James Turrell: A Retrospective James Turrell by Giménez, Trotman and Zajonc James Turrell: Geometry of Light
Click Here For James Turrell Books