In his first South American show, British artist Hamish Fulton presents one of his latest walking projects, which took place in the Atacama Desert, in Northern Chile.
This project, an invitation from Plataforma Atacama, consisted of climbing the Jorquencal peak seven times in fourteen days, in the small village of Machuca. The place has only six permanent residents and became the perfect scenario for Fulton to develop his repeated walks pattern, which resulted in a new walking project.
The art Hamish Fulton makes-he has been doing walks since the late 1970s -may be understood as a process. Fulton did not ignore the influences of a time when it was evident that the formalist approach to art-represented by minimalism-was replaced by the idea of a de-materialization of art, which gained sense in budding processual art shows. Minimal art began to gradually focus less on the realization of the object towards its operational project. This process, this experience of walking developed by Fulton, does not result from a random exercise, but from a well-defined idea in which the artist puts in practice several self-imposed rules. These rules are related to order, shapes, numerical relations, as well as to a detailed observation of the new environment he is dealing with. Fulton is capable of making on-the-spot decisions, but he always has very clear in his mind what he is about to experience.
Although for a long time many have tried to align his work with artistic currents, such as land art (USA) or outdoors sculpture (UK), the artist points out that he is a walking artist. Since art made outside of artists studios and open-air experiences gained so much space, many thought that Fulton took part in one of these movements. However, he affirms that his work is distant from all of that. Walking is his driving force, and the experience of walking is his form of making art; the vivid art experience is what drives him forward. In this experience, the contact with the landscape results from an amiable practice in which the artist does not intend to leave marks or to frantically take in everything he sees, as a tourist would do in an unknown place. Fulton is interested in attentively observing what surrounds him and plunging himself into what nature offers in each new experience.
Differently from land art artists, such as Robert Smithson, who extract from the territory the raw material to create his pieces, or from outdoors sculpture artists, who produce large sculptures that remain in the landscape, Fulton, on the contrary, focuses on following the ethical principle of wilderness: not to leave traces.
So, considering the experiences he has been developing in his artistic production, his practice is, certainly, best defined as that of a walking artist; however, when one intends to classify his work, we could say that it is related to what Miwon Kwon defines as site-oriented practices.
In 1972, Fulton began to do walks in Latin American soil and has done seven walks ever since; however, he has had only one show in Latin America, which took place in Mexico City. Some of his previous South American experiences include his trip to Peru and to Bolivia, with a stop in Chile, with Richard Long, when he visited the Nazca Lines and climbed the Illampu peak, in Bolivia, up to two thousand feet (1972); a walk in Bolivia, with Richard Long (1981); an attempt to climb Mount Aconcagua, from the Argentinean sidehe couldnt reach its peak due to bad weather conditions and stopped nearly one thousand meters before (1998); he climbed the Aconcagua from the Argentinean side againthis time he succeeded and reached its peak (2003); and his latest experience: a walk in the Atacama Desert, which included climbing Licancabur volcano from the Bolivian side (2012), an invitation from Plataforma Atacama.
In Fultons latest experience in Chile, he stayed in Machuca and climbed Jorquencal peak every other day. On the days when he was not climbing, he used to leave the room in which he was lodged and walked from door to door, and these days also became walking days. As a result, Fulton became acquainted with the everyday life of that new place and its residents and, as days went by, a repetition pattern was establishedwhich involved both the village residents and geographical issues related to the movement of the sun and how its changes occur throughout the days.
The show ATACAMA 1234567, which is presented in the Galeria Nara Roesler, is a mix of works that includes the above-mentioned walking experiences in Latin America and in the rest of the world, as well as the artists latest experience in the Atacama Desert. Fulton describes a process that tells his vital experience as an artist using wall texts, photographs, texts, notes, and observations he made about the landscape he saw while walking. Although the walking experience itself is kept to the artist, in the show the viewer is invited to imagine and complete these experiences through shapes, texts, and images that turn the landscape into visuality.
The exhibition is on view at Nara Roesler Gallery