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The colossal land art of Andrew Rogers

Updated: Mar 1, 2020

Andrew Rogers is a sculptor whose works may be found in many plazas and buildings around the world. He is a leading contemporary artist.

Rogers is the creator of the world’s largest contemporary land art undertaking. Titled “Rhythms of Life,” the project commenced in 1998 and at present comprises 48 massive stone structures (Geoglyphs) across 13 countries in seven continents and has involved over 6,700 people. These Geoglyphs range in size up to 40,000 sq m/430,560 sq ft – and are commanding worldwide attention. They are situated in the Arava Desert – Israel, the Atacama Desert – Chile, the Bolivian Altiplano, Kurunegala – Sri Lanka, Victoria -Australia, the Gobi Desert – China, Akureyri – Iceland, Rajasthan – India, Cappadocia – Turkey, Jomson and Pokhara in Nepal, Spissky and the High Tatras in Slovakia, the Mohave desert in the USA, near the Chyulu Hills in Kenya and an ephemeral installation in Antarctica near the Dakshin Gangotri Glacier. Individually and together the Geoglyphs form a unique set of drawings upon the Earth stretching around the globe, connecting people with history and heritage.

The title of the project, the “Rhythms of Life” is derived from Rogers’ early bronze sculptures.

One thing that I find as impressive as the vast sculptures themselves, is the organisation and sheer manual labour involved in constructing them.

 To enable him to realise his visions Rogers enlisted the help of two young Israeli architects, Tidah Beca and Golan Levi, who supervised the construction of most of his earthworks around the world. “Space and Time,” the largest complex, is the culmination of this ambitious global undertaking. Rogers spent two years negotiating with local Turkish authorities to accept his initial proposal for a pair of earthworks.

His business acumen served him well here in manoeuvring through delicate negotiations and in organizing hundreds of workers, overseers, translators, and transportation and food providers. Without the support of laborers, craftsmen, education leaders, and political and religious advisors, an elaborate undertaking such as this— financed by private donors, including the artist, public funds from the national and local government, and grants from several Turkish corporations—could never be realized.

Located at an altitude of 2469 m (8100 ft) above sea level, on the Llano de la Paciencia (Plain of Patience), 13 km from the town of San Pedro de Atacama, “The Ancients” geoglyph is derived from a 6000 year old pictureglyph known as “El Señor de los Báculos”  

The stone walls forming this geoglyph, constructed from volcanic rock and clay, are 1200 m (3936 ft) in length.

The only exception to the kind of communal collaboration characteristic of his work occurred in China, where Rogers created three geoglyphs in the Gobi Desert. He found the bureaucracy there exceptionally daunting and ended up accepting the government’s offer to use a 1,000-man army unit to construct the earthworks rather than employ the remote region’s inhabitants. Rogers now admits that he regrets the decision, since it runs counter to the project’s spirit and trajectory. Nonetheless it is an amazing sight to see in action. 

Check out this video of the construction works in China

A few more of my favourite pieces

Although this is fast becoming another epically long post I would also like to mention (just for the sheer size of the pieces of stone used) is the site in Cappadocia, Turkey, where in September 2011 Rogers completed the “Time and Space” geoglyph park. The thirteen structures comprise more than 10,500 tons of stone and, in total, the walls measure approximately 4 miles (7 km) in length. The structures that lie furthest apart are separated by a distance of 1.25 miles (2 km).

Part of the ‘A Day On Earth‘ sculpture includes the world’s largest basalt arch. Inscribed with a single word, MEMORY, the arch is 64ft high, constructed with solid basalt columns, each weighing in excess of 84 tons, and is the largest such basalt structure in the world. The arch is located at the end of a colonnade of 30ft high basalt columns, each inscribed with 22 virtues. “A Day on Earth” is about the fragility of life and society, and values inscribed on each column are imbued with meaning and a deep yearning of every person- liberty, justice, integrity, truth, respect, peace, freedom, quiet, hope, optimism, history, heritage, tolerance, beauty, joy, rights, love, responsibilities, faith, compassion, goodness, kindness. also check out the book of his works ‘Rhythms of Life’. All the photos used for this post are from Andrews website with is kind permission.

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