Writings on Nancy Holt

30 Below

Sarah Hamill
September, 2020
ISBN 978-1-952603-13-6

Inside, we observe nature as if through the wrong end of a telescope: the sky above appears detached; clouds pass as if on film. When occupied, the tower is converted into an observatory from which natural phenomena are contemplated as images, their own representation.

--Craig Owens, “Environmental Art,” Art at the Olympics, 1980

Voice and Vision in "Swamp"

Lori Zippay
July, 2020
ISBN 978-1-952603-12-9

The film opens with a disembodied male voice and a landscape in motion. “Just walk in a straight line,” the man directs, as the camera advances tentatively towards an expanse of tall grasses. “I think, I think I am,” replies an unseen woman, the camera inching forward into the reeds. “Straight in…to that clump,” the man continues. “It’s OK, Nan, you’re on fairly solid ground. Straight in. Just go right in.…”

Pine Barrens

Kelly Baum
August, 2020
ISBN 978-1-952603-11-2

In 1975, Nancy Holt created Pine Barrens, an experimental film shot on a tract of land in the dead center of New Jersey known mostly for its cranberry bogs, sand pits, and stumpy pine trees. Pine Barrens is a brilliant rumination on one of modernity’s central dialectical knots: the relationship between center and margin. That it does so not from a metropolis but from a periphery lodged within a periphery makes it prescient indeed. As Holt well recognized, no better place to explore this particular antinomy exists than the Pine Barrens.

Nancy Holt: Zeroing In

Sarah Hayden
May 2020
ISBN 978-1-952603-09-9

Nancy Holt strove to provoke the “concretisation of perception” by isolating “limited visions through holes and things” that would cause people to “really focus, really perceive intensely the thing seen.”1 Holt’s 1973 video Zeroing In is a conversation, a game, and an experiment.

Mono Lake: Ring of Fire

Aurora Tang
June, 2020
ISBN 978-1-952603-08-2

At any location on earth, as the rock record goes down into time and out into earlier geographies it touches upon tens of hundreds of stories, wherein the face of the earth often changed, changed utterly, and changed again, like the face of a crackling fire.1

–John McPhee

Swampy Ecologies

Bridget Crone
May 2020
ISBN 978-1-952603-07-5

You are in the middle of an expanse of tall thick dry grass, head height. As you look and move through this, a world unfurls that you become immersed in feeling, hearing, seeing, and experiencing fully in each moment. Expansive. The experience feels vivid and rich despite the difficulties of movement across uneven ground and against a fierce wind. Immersive. You cannot see beyond your immediate surroundings. There is no horizon.

Doubling Down: Nancy Holt’s Stone Enclosure: Rock Rings

Barbara Miller
June 2019
ISBN 978-1-952603-00-6

Circles everywhere! Upon entering Nancy Holt’s 2018 solo exhibition at Dia Art Foundation in Chelsea, New York City the observer is engulfed by a network of flat circular line drawings, round cast shadows, and orbicular light pools. Circles also appear dimensionally: as dark voids cut into walls and as mirrored surfaces shaped into orbs. Very tangibly Holt’s circles telescope out, forming lens-less viewfinders. As one stoops to look through cast-iron spyholes, for example in Dual Locators (1972), a tunneling effect occurs: circles become layered onto circles.