Image: Minna Ala-Heikkilä / Nokian Uutiset (Nokia News)
"The natural curves can serve as a small amphitheater for events, the side tunnels providing entry to the area." - Nancy Holt
Up and Under (fin. Yltä ja Alta) Artist: Nancy Holt (USA) Location: Sasintie 555, Pinsiö
Nancy Holt (born Wocherster, Massachusetts 1938) is known though her environmental sculptures, installations and landart. She spent most of her childhood in New Jersey, attended art school at Tufts University, and married her student colleague, Robert Smithson in 1963. Together, Holt and Smithson started to develop new revolutionary movement. Together with other pioneers, the landart movement, which would propose “art” outside of galleries and art institutions, was born.
While much of her work is concentrated in the United States, Nancy Holt has built sculptures nearly everywhere in the world. Her latest work was just revealed in the Summer 2012 in Avignon, France. Other known works from Nancy Holt are for example the Sun Tunnels at the desert of Great Basin in Utah (1973-1976).
Holt designed Up and Under to follow the light and shadow movements of this selected space. The form follows the movements and relations of the stars in the sky and the land. In a1999 interview published in Aamulehti newspaper, the curator of Whitney Museum, Eugenie Tsai, mentioned that Up and Under might just be Nancy Holt’s best work. Artists web page: www.nancyholt.com
Up and Under claims a sand pit on a groundwater area as art. The work evolved partly from my interest in the perceptual aspects of certain archaeological sites, such as the Naszca Lines in Peru. With no high elevations of the land nearby, the very large images in these permanent land drawings can only be seen from an airplane. Similarly, the chalk image of the ancient White Horse of Uffington, England, is so huge that it can be only perceived from several miles away.
In 1990 when I first saw the site with its 90-ft.-high cliffs curving in a crescent shape, the sand quarry reminded me of images of the moonscape transmitted to Earth by Apollo 11. I wanted to make use of the site´s variations in elevation.* Conceived as a work to be experienced from both above and below, Up and Under can only be seen its entirety – with its whole shape visible- by walking up a path and looking down from several vantage points in the cliffs.
At ground level, Up and Under can be seen in part from inside the tunnels, from outside on the ground and on the path, from the top of the large mound, and the reflections in the three circular pools. Each changing visual experience leads to a questioning of perception itself- near and far, whole and detail, reflection and reality, aerial and ground.
Sculpture has seven horizontal tunnels, four aligned East-West and three North-South, the directions based on an alignment of North with the North Star, Polaris, which indicates true, astronomical North. Since Up and Under relates to a star-point in the universe, the work, could be said to be astrally fixed, on Earth.
The convergence of the four cardinal directions of the planet within the work also indicates, in a sense, the universe beginning and ending at this Pinsiö sand quarry. Where four horizontal tunnels join together beneath the earth, a vertical tunnel soars into the sky. The act of looking up through this tunnel, and seeing a circle of sky with clouds, stars and/or moon, brings the sky down beneath the earth into one´s perception. The sky can also be observed reflected in the three pools circled at your feet.
Small amounts of earth from towns all over Finland were mixed together and buried directly beneath the vertical tunnel, giving a conceptual aspect to Up and Under and adding downward vertical dimension, which penetrated beneath the earth and grounds the sculpture solidly in its location in Finland.
While Up and Under explores spatial orientation and the interrelationship of sky and earth, it can also function as a community-gathering place. The natural curves can serve as a small amphitheater for events, the side tunnels providing entry to the area. The straight tunnels cut crossways through the curving, winding, earth form, creating an interplay, between geometric form and natural, organic form. The tunnels also provide shelter from rain or be a cool refuge from the sun, and the echoes within the tunnels create unique acoustical sound experiences.