Leonard_al rio.jpg
Zoe Leonard, image from Al Rio/To the River, 2016–20. Gelatin silver prints. © Zoe Leonard. 
Courtesy the artist, Hauser & Wirth and Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne.

Land Arts 2020 ADAPTATION

How does a field program adapt to a pandemic? Science fiction scenarios of bio-hazard-suited researchers, roaming the desert, examining the residue of humanity’s engagement with the natural world do not adequately protect participants from covid-19 uncertainty. Nor can we shield the vulnerable communities and lands—disadvantaged by systemic economic poverty and limited health infrastructure—that we routinely encounter. Rather than magnify the inherent risks of travel, Land Arts 2020 will adapt.

Land Arts 2020 ADAPTATION will conduct an interdisciplinary deep research studio and seminar to construct a meander map of the Rio Bravo / Rio Grande as it marks the border from Juarez / El Paso to the Gulf of Mexico. We will collectively research, study, draw, the history and traces of the ever-changing river. The work produced will be part a publication being developed by the artist Zoe Leonard, a former Land Arts field guest, and poet Tim Johnson to build knowledge around terrain of past (and future) field operations. The 2020 Adaption seeks to responsibly honor the ethos, aspirations, and complexities of the Land Arts program that is dedicated to teaching greater awareness and understanding of how we as humans build and operate on the planet. 

Land Arts 2020 Adaptation will operate from the College of Architecture at Texas Tech University during the Fall semester as a non-traveling (face-to-face and/or hybrid-remote) studio and seminar to conduct the research necessary to produce the Rio Bravo / Rio Grande meander map that will describe the undulating and shifting course of the river over time and provide a significant resource for Leonard’s Al Rio / To the River publication.

The map, inspired by those produced by Harold Fisk and team in 1944 of The Alluvial Valley of the Lower Mississippi, will require extensive binational and multilingual research into the history of river geometry and mapping as a manifestation of dynamic ecosystems modified over time by wide ranges of human construction.

The opportunity for students, guests, and the Land Arts program, to create a map as temporal condition report that will have significant international visibility is a tremendous opportunity in itself, and a clear way to productively adjust our operations to the present conditions. 

Participation is open to everyone—architects, artists, poets, writers, historians, linguists, geographers, scientists—from those interested in the 12 credit hour graduate Land Arts Certificate to undergraduates and people yet to enroll in the university. Ideally participants will register for both the graduate topical studio and seminar, yet that is not required as it will also be possible to participate through variable credit independent study or the seminar or studio individually. There will be a host of guest collaborators from across campus and beyond. 

For additional information see the Land Arts 2020 ADAPTATION prospectus and get in touch with Chris Taylor.