Central Nevada’s Garden Valley is home to wildlife, Native American rock shelters, the White River Narrows archaeological sites, and ancient trails used by the Shoshone and Paiute peoples. In September Senator Harry Reid introduced legislation to put over 800,000 acres off-limits to energy exploration and exploitation there. The Bill has been referred to Committeee, and can be tracked here. Though Sen. Reid’s office did not respond to initial press questions about the Bill, setting aside this land must hinge on protecting these natural and archaeological resources. But the area is also home to Michael Heizer’s ongoing City project. It has been described as the largest contemporary work of art. Started in the 1970s, the work is still unfinished, and off-limits to visitors. You can get a sense of its scale though by looking at the google map satellite views of the project.
The Art Newspaper reports on the proposed withdrawal:
Since the site is surrounded by public land, it has been threatened by encroaching development before, most recently by a government plan to build a railroad that would transport nuclear waste across Garden Valley to a repository in Yucca Mountain. Heizer had said that if it went ahead, he would completely destroy City, but President Obama stopped federal funding for the controversial project in 2010.
“Michael Heizer’s City is one of the most significant artworks ever created in the United States,” says Michael Govan, the director of the Los Angeles Country Museum of Art who helped the artist secure funding for the project when he was the director of the Dia Foundation for the Arts. Heizer is working on the final engineering and conservation details, Govan tells The Art Newspaper, so that the work can endure for thousands of years. “The mile-and-a-half-long complex will stand as one of the great American monuments of our time, and all time. This historic and cultural resource must be protected for future generations.”
Is it the contemporary art, the environment, or the archaeological sites which prompted Sen. Reid’s proposal? We can’t know for sure, but if constituent groups start to pool resources, these groups might find their interests are reflected in more policy enactments when their interests align.
Garden Valley Withdrawal Act, 2014 S. 2820.