Seven Magic Mountains in the American West
A psychedelic Stonehenge in the desert, somewhere between artifice and nature
17 Apr 2017
The desert has always conjured feelings of possibility, mysticism and surrealism. Could it be that open horizon just invites one to contemplation? Deserts have long inspired artists: think of Salvador Dali’s surrealist paintings or Jodorowsky’s psychedelic-psychomagic-western film ‘El Topo’ (1970) set in the desert of Mexico. For internationally renowned Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone, the desert of Nevada in the American West is the location for his curious and colourful large-scale site-specific installation “Seven Magic Mountains”.
To catch sight of these strange beauties, you’ll need to hit the road and get on an art pilgrimage. Or if you’re driving near Las Vegas, then you might just catch sight of them anyways – these fluorescent rocks will start to appear just fifteen minutes west of Las Vegas on Interstate 15. Comprised of seven towers of colorful, stacked boulders standing more than 30 feet high, Ugo spent five years building these rock pillars from local limestone.
“I see art making as a possibility to meditate about life”, says Ugo. Bursting with colour, these boulders speak of human interaction in nature. The proximity with Las Vegas is no accident, says Ugo: the location is physically and symbolically mid-way between the natural and the artificial. “The natural is expressed by the mountain ranges, desert, and Jean Dry Lake backdrop, and the artificial is expressed by the highway and the constant flow of traffic between Los Angeles and Las Vegas”, explains the artist’s website.
In the midst of the desert, the dayglow totems of Seven Magic Mountains also conjure thoughts of ancient sacred places of worship such as Stonehenge in England.