AT THE LIGHTNING FIELD

Canadian Art - - Reviews -

LAURA RAICOVICH, COF­FEE HOUSE PRESS, 104 PP., $18.95

So much of mythol­ogy de­pends on un­avail­abil­ity. Wal­ter de Maria’s iconic 1977 work of land art, The Lightning Field, is in a re­mote part of New Mex­ico, cared for by the Dia Art Foun­da­tion. It is only open from May to Oc­to­ber, with a mere hand­ful of peo­ple per­mit­ted to see it daily, and a strict in­ter­dic­tion on ama­teur video and pho­tog­ra­phy—al­though there is at least one Youtube video, which (hi­lar­i­ously, poignantly, in­ad­ver­tently) de­mys­ti­fies the piece through its length and ba­nal­ity. (The video has been up since 2011; let’s hope Dia lets it stand.)

Laura Raicovich’s At the Lightning Field is short and lyri­cal, but not un­like this video in, first, its an­tic­i­pa­tion, and then al­most im­me­di­ate de­fus­ing of, that nar­ra­tive re­sponse to de Maria’s work: i.e., will lightning ever strike? If any­one could wit­ness this (a rare sight any­where, hence the idiom) it might be Raicovich, who is now pres­i­dent and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Queens Mu­seum, but from 2002 to 2011 worked for Dia and had re­mark­able ac­cess to The Lightning Field. Raicovich di­vides her book into four vis­its, the last, with its prom­ise of rain,

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