Cruising the Monuments of the Outskirts of Las Vegas (After Smithson)
Cruising the Monuments of the Outskirts of Las Vegas seeks sites of queer futurity while exploring a series of environmental monuments and new ruins around Las Vegas, Nevada. Following the conceptual map of Robert Smithson’s original essay, A Tour of the Monuments of Passaic, New Jersey, I seek out unexpected monuments tied to the elements of land and extraction in the Las Vegas valley and surrounding Mojave Desert. The journey turns into a disorienting descent into the invisible forces of power impressing upon the landscape of the Southwest. My essay asks, what comes into these spaces after Smithson’s “gray sand?” Through the lens of expanded cruising culture and queer renewal, this work collides with the reversing ruins of Smithson’s famous “suburban odyssey,” and discovers a form of freedom gifted by the possibilities of entropy.
Like Smithson I use the essay form as a generative artistic medium. While I mirror the arc of his original essay, it is also a mindful journey of the recent southwest water crisis and new ruins around Lake Mead, which I believe Smithson would have been interested in artistically and geologically. Drawing from his proclivity to project allegorical landscapes onto seemingly mundane sites, I expand on my own ideas of queer renewal that I have developed in work about monuments and futurity, especially when writing about my project, Memorial for Queer Rhyolite, in the past.
You can read my essay in The New Geologic Epoch, an ecoartspace exhibition and book curated by Mary Mattingly, at the link HERE.