Sunday, July 1, 2012

Hiding in Plain View

by Drew Martin
I have written before about the Franklin Mineral Museum in "the fluorescent mineral capital of the world." Zinc deposits from this site have produced 357 different mineral species. I visited the Museum again yesterday and was reminded of the artist, Teresita Fernández and her interest in the collection. The following is from an interview between Anne Stringfield and Fernández:

AS: In thinking about context, I keep coming back to Robert Smithson as the artist whose work most strongly parallels yours. Your mirrored pieces could be seen as descendants of his Mirror Displacements, you both take a profoundly intellectual approach to your work, you share an interest in frames and boundaries, in cycles of building and ruin, and so on. Just how important is he to your practice?

TF: Smithson is an important artist for me. He prompts this inclusive view of the world where all references are permitted simply because they strike a chord with the artist; where expectations about place are reversed and ideas become inverted. I have a cabin on a lake near the Franklin Mineral Mine, in the area where Smithson spent so much time. This is the place where I’ve reread all of his writings. Smithson’s best work is all still intact, there to be explored, not in art museums, but virtually untouched in the very places he conceived it. You visit the mine, and enter a shabby little chamber full of dull, ordinary-looking rocks on shelves. When the lights are turned off and UV lights are turned on, the rocks glow with fantastic colors. It’s otherworldly. What interests me is that the rocks were always phosphorescent, you just couldn’t see it—it’s something hiding in plain view. And Smithson does this all the time, a kind of anthropomorphizing of the landscape so that you, as the viewer, are not privileged. He makes the landscape, in fact, look back at you.

Pictured here are images I took yesterday of the same fluorescent rocks that Fernández describes (in regular and UV light)