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Andrew Rogers' Monumental "Rhythm of Life" at 18th Street Art Center  

By Melonie Magruder
Lookout Staff

May 18, 2011 – Thirteen years, 6,700 people, 47 structures, 13 countries, and seven continents.

That’s what it took for Australian artist Andrew Rogers to realize his grand “Time and Space” photographic exhibit, currently on view at the 18th Street Art Center until May 30.

And taking the pictures by shooting his subjects while leaning out of hot air balloons and hang gliding over rugged desert terrain was the “easy” part, Rogers told The Lookout.

"Ratio" in Utah. Photo courtesy of the artist, Andrew Rogers

Rogers dubs his project “Land Art” and its concept is rooted in the “interconnectedness of not just time and space, but in the universal community of the human spirit,” he said in remarks at the exhibit’s opening earlier this month.

What all that means is that Rogers, an artist and sculptor whose works are found in collections and outside public buildings around the world, conceived and executed the largest contemporary land art undertaking in history.

If, as university art professor Chris Taylor once said, “Arid lands are unable to hold secrets,” then Rogers is the Great Confessor.

Selecting vast plains on all the earth’s continents, Rogers would arrive and build huge sculptures celebrating the “the cycle of human life and emotion” all on an industrial-size scale.

He created walls, structures and images derived from a cast bronze piece he made years ago titled “Rhythms of Life,” and used ancient petroglyphs and cave drawings found locally, created by indigenous peoples millennia ago.

The process was as much a part of the artistic statement as the result. Rogers would arrive and enlist the services of local communities to create – in the space of about a week and using materials found in the surrounding area – sculptural designs so vast, they are literally viewable from space.

The “Rhythms of Life” site in China stretches 1.3 miles across. Satellite photos of the whole project, taken from 280 and 480 miles away, are riveting in showing the scope of Rogers’ vision.

In Kenya, he employed 1240 Maasai warriors. “They had never used stone for building practical structures,” Rogers said. “They have thatch huts. I had to teach them how to use stone.”

In China, he commanded a regiment of soldiers.

And in the Arava Desert in Israel, Rogers perched 42 heavily pregnant women in diaphanous white sarongs atop his stone geoglyph for two days, saluting the sun. “The images celebrate birth and life, but the logistics were a nightmare,” Rogers said. “Ambulances, gynecologists, security, shade, food – it was insane.”

The resulting sculptures are as varied as the countries in which they were made.

In Cappadocia, Turkey, Rogers used 10,500 tons of stone to create gold tipped arches that echo Stonehenge, but encompass a geoglyph park containing 12 structures and four miles of walls.

In Antarctica, the “Rhythms of Life” sculpture was created on a frozen lakebed from stones that would be underwater again in a few months’ time.

In Bolivia, at a site 4,000 meters above sea level, Rogers participated in an animal sacrifice upon completion of the project.

In all, Rogers said he was awed by the rich diversity of culture found within the “sameness” of human nature and emotion across the globe.

The project started in the Arava Desert, which Rogers termed “very Biblical” in appearance, in 1999.

“Back then, I would triangulate the placement of the stones using people,” Rogers said. “They would stand for weeks in 105° weather marking points for me. Then I learned surveyors can do it in three days.”

Working usually through interpreters, Rogers wrangled permits and security through Byzantine government bureaucracies, enlisted Hindu and Buddhist priests to bless the projects, conscripted armies to haul stone and amassed logistical support to feed and house working teams of thousands during the construction periods. All for efforts which, Rogers admits, will ultimately just “return to the earth” in a couple hundred years.

“We are not building sculptures here,” Rogers said. “We’re creating an idea. This a metaphor for life and growth and memory and attendant human emotions.”

William Fox, the director of the Center for Art + Environment at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, and author of 12 books on cognition and reality, spoke in awe of Rogers work at the exhibit opening.

“Andrew’s work is an astonishment to me,” Fox said. “This project is specific and cultural, yes. But it’s also something global and biological. It acknowledges what is different and unique about us, but also celebrates what is human and universal.”

Rogers photographed all the different sites himself. The images on display at the arts center catalogue the staggering span of the project, from the 29-foot-high “Ratio” tower, built next to a Hindu temple in India, to the stone Atlatl spear thrower in Yucca Valley outside Joshua National Park. Though he is moving onto new projects, he doesn’t necessarily see the “Rhythms of Life” exhibit as the end of the story.

“This is an open-ended conversation,” Rogers said. “Everyone is invited to take part.”

Andrew Rogers: Time and Space runs till May 30 at the 18th Street Art Center at 1639 18th Street. More information may be found at


"It acknowledges what is different and unique about us, but also celebrates what is human and universal.” William Fox

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