Who did this? Why are they sitting in this open field? Was there any intention behind it? Is it Art? Or is it what it looks like? A pile of dirt and a pile of stones. Why is it so satisfying? The transformation of ordinary things onto objects we call art usually comes from the mind of someone who is pushing the boundaries of whatever materials they are working with.
This push has been greatly aided by photography over the history of the medium, and certainly it has taken a huge leap forward since conceptual art has become part of our culture. Think about how many artists have used photography as their ‘record of effort’, like Andy Goldsworthy for example, who leaves his marks in nature by assembling forms out of ice, or stones, or leaves, then photographs the work and leaves it to decay, the only record of the effort is the photograph which allows us to believe he did that!
All of us have been so cultivated by these examples that we now can see for ourselves surprising incidents, gestures, accidents, coincidences, or any of the numerous ways that chance leaves vestiges of effort lying about for us to claim as our own. This is no different, we might say, than Duchamp taking the toilet bowl as a ‘readymade’ and calling it his art.
I caught sight of these piles on a trip to another town and immediately stopped to walk into the field and consider them up close. They reminded me of a photograph I made many years ago in California while on a Guggenheim Fellowship. But what was best of all on this day was that I got out of the car and stood in contemplation of a pile of dirt and a pile of stones, and the pleasure I got from walking around them and standing on what was once a sea bottom countless eons ago, was what is most important.