Andrew Rogers's Turkish Earthworks
Australian sculptor and earthworks artist Andrew Rogers has built on all seven continents (including Antarctica!), creating massive projects and then leaving the results to the collaborative forces of nature. "Time and Space," his latest venture and his most complex to date, is a "land art park" set in the Karadağ valley in Cappadocia in central Turkey. "I'm deeply interested in ancient cultures and civilizations, especially as repositories of memory; without memory, we are nothing," the artist told A.i.A. "I wanted to create a place that is a memorial to the past, as well as a present site for meditation, for speculation and dreaming."
The multipart project fans out approximately two miles in all directions, over mountainous terrain that's barren of trees, sparsely populated and breathtaking. Executed in two phases, from 2007–09 and 2009–11, the monumental undertaking of 13 structures was completed in mid-September of this year with Presence, a cluster of two dozen giant stone columns, which were completed in time to coincide with the opening of the 12th Istanbul Biennial.
The first phase consisted of enormous representations of images historically significant to the region. The Gift (2007-09), the first work that was made, is a volcanic rock geoglyph of a horse (Cappadocia was once famous for its horses) that hugs the contours of the landscape, a three-dimensional 330-foot-long drawing best viewed aerially, say, from one of the hot air balloons that dot these skies, giving its passengers an extra bang for their lira.
The second phase consisted of a series of soaring columns of stacked basalt, some gilded to reflect light, forming latter-day temples, classical Greek ruins, or a Hollywood set. Listen (2010) is a simpler construction of 40-plus-foot-tall paired basalt columns topped by a lintel. It acts as the gateway to a bleached white amphitheatre carved into the mountainous rock.
It is A Day on Earth (2011), the penultimate creation, that is the grandest of this Ozymandian, back-in-time enterprise. Situated on another high-rising hill, two imposing colonnades flank a basalt arch. Sixty-four feet high, the columns are inscribed with words that represent what Rogers sees as the pillars of civilization: "memory," "freedom," "justice" and "compassion."
Rogers uses only local workers to create projects in remote areas. Hiring hundreds of villagers, at rates above their usual pay scale, helps in a small way.