“Look closely at a crack in the wall and it might as well be the Grand Canyon” – Robert Smithson
Where is Where it’s at is a journey through space and time, for which Anya Gallaccio culled sand from the stratified deposits of the deserts of Nevada, Utah and Arizona, and transported it to London. The trans-North American and transatlantic voyages of the sand evokes the personal journey of the artist herself, since she left the UK three years ago to take on the position of professor of visual arts at the University of California in San Diego.
The journey started in Death Valley; an almost cliché and cathartic Great-West American road-trip, to end up in London as an ordered theatre of shades and tones.
Formally, the sand, which combines with fragments of glass, is organised into the image of a scattered projection; where direct sunlight falls onto the gallery floor and walls at different moments of the day. The window, normally an apparatus, is used here as a template and Gallaccio plainly ‘projects’ an imaginary landscape as well as her own experience in the desert through the lens of architectural design. Starting from this literal logic, Gallaccio produces an intervention that engages with both the legacies of Land-Art and early 20th century Abstraction.
Possibly due to the context of the 19th century London domestic space, or activated by collective memories originating in Panavision, the sand is chromatically enhanced. And what might have otherwise appeared as the colours of pre-history (umber, yellow-ochre, ferrous reds, yellows, pale greys) here combine in an almost constructivist composition and a hyper-saturated play of sensuous visuality, often a hallmark of Gallaccio’s work.
Casting light in sand and glass on the gallery floor invites the imagination out the window; effectively turning the typical conditions of installation inside-out. Knowledge of the massive collective power and journey of these microscopic particles of sand amplifies the metaphorical relationship to light and the visual.