Holt/Smithson Foundation Friday Films — "Sun Tunnels" on April 17, 2020
Through April and May 2020 Holt/Smithson Foundation invites you to join us for Friday Films.
Between 12 noon Friday and 12 noon Saturday on Mountain Time (the time zone of our home base in New Mexico), every Friday over the next two months we present a selected moving image work by Nancy Holt and/or Robert Smithson on Vimeo and IGTV for twenty-four hours.
The film will be available from 12 noon MDT Friday, April 17 until 12 noon MDT Saturday April 18.
Our third Friday Film continues our three-week trip to the state of Utah with Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels (1978). Check back here between 1
Sun Tunnels is twenty-nine-minute film showing the making of Holt’s eponymous work Sun Tunnels, located in the Great Basin Desert, Utah. This earthwork joined the collection of Dia Art Foundation last year, with support from Holt/Smithson Foundation. Sun Tunnels comprises four concrete cylinders arranged in the landscape in an X formation, each 18 feet long and 9 feet diameter, perforated with a constellation of small apertures emitting patterns of light inside the tube. As Holt describes in a 1977 essay, published in Artforum, the tunnels mark “the yearly extreme positions of the sun on the horizon—the tunnels being aligned with the angles of the rising and setting of the sun on the days of the solstices, around June 21st and December 21st.”
The film starts noisily, showing construction of the tunnels and their transportation to, and installation in, the Great Basin Desert. Holt noted Sun Tunnels involved thirty-two co-workers, the team including two engineers, an astronomer, ten concrete pipe company workers, one road grader, and a helicopter pilot. In the film she demonstrates the skill of, and her great respect for, the labor involved in creating this sculpture. Once Sun Tunnels is completed the film shows it from the air and from the nearby roadway, the sounds of construction replaced by rotating helicopter blades and a moving car engine. The film closes with near silence, showing stunning footage of the changing sun and light in the tunnels on the solstices. The end titles note “inside the tunnels it is cool during the day and there is an echo.” In its portrait of an earthwork, this film shows Holt’s precise process and careful attention to site, place, time, and perception.
Still from Nancy Holt, Sun Tunnels (1978)
Digitized 16 mm film
Duration: 26 minutes 31 seconds
© Holt/Smithson Foundation, licensed by VAGA at ARS, New York. Distributed by Electronic Arts Intermix, New York.