By New Times
By Robrt L. Pela and Amy Silverman
By Katrina Montgomery
By Kathleen Vanesian
By Monica Alonzo
By Benjamin Leatherman
By Robrt L. Pela
By Katrina Montgomery
"And the Land Grew Quiet" is a departure for Moore in the sense that this is not an exhibition created with natural elements. However, it is one informed by all the exploration that Moore brings with him from his previous work.
The exhibition space features a simple color palette of white and tan and is made up of a few narrative elements such as embossed paper scrolls featuring phrases from Waiting on the Bounty, Mary Knackstedt Dyck's diary of living through the Dust Bowl; fragments of writing about the land by Moore and his grandmother; and snippets from The Grapes of Wrath — phrases like, "All of them were caught in something larger than themselves." Also, there's a scroll featuring a large-scale topographic map of the landscape with contours and natural features — the rise and fall of the landforms.
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A third element is large-scale mechanical pedestals almost reminiscent of farm or industrial machinery. Scrolling along these are land contracts, complete with legal verbiage and redacted text that speak to the complexity of trying to describe boundaries. Also, ticker tape from four stock market crashes spits out of a machine and pools on the floor below.
All the while, in the background, there is that stud-skeleton house constructed on a scale one-and-a-half times normal size. It evokes the dream of a family home, but the tilted cant of the house lets us know that something is off. During the Dust Bowl, houses were buried up to their windowsills in dirt, making the houses look as if they'd sunk into the ground. The installation also summons images of houses that lie abandoned on the periphery of suburbia — empty, deserted-looking spaces.
When I think of some of Moore's earlier work and his planting wheat and sorghum, tending the crops, and weeding them, it occurs to me that these activities give the artist time for mental fermentation. I'm curious how this process might change for him when he is putting together a show like this one — a site-specific installation. Moore says, "With earth works, there is an unreliability of elements and how [they are] going to turn out. The museum has its own act of God, if you will — walls that aren't square, a fixed space, etc."
Moore applied the same discipline in creating this exhibition. The space is meticulously rendered. There is a seamlessness to the embossed walls. And time-based aspects to the show are still present. Visitors are encouraged to touch one of the embossed scrolls, and over the course of the exhibition, an inking of the paper by visitors' hands will take place. Likewise, the buildup and accumulation of ticker tape on the gallery floor will continue throughout the show's run. You may even catch Moore there, tending to it all. As an artist, Moore, is the real deal.
The show is demanding. It is designed to be reflective. The movements of the scrolls are slow and sustained. It also is designed to be one work. You move through the space starting with the resilient voice found in the diary fragments of Mary Knackstedt Dyck. The white of the embossed paper, the wonderful smell of the pine beams of the stud-skeleton house, and the subtle mechanical buzzing sounds play on the senses. Moore presents a number of ways to look at the land, from the more poetic and abstract to the topographical and harsh.
If you go, slow yourself down and give yourself the time to contemplate, because this show might quietly blow you away. It asks the viewer to question what's going on and not just be complicit. As desert dwellers, can we retain the right to be limitless?