Atacama 1234567 is an exhibition by Hamish Fulton of wall paintings, drawings, wood carvings, engravings of historical works resulting from his recent walk through Atacama, Northern Chile, the most world arid desert.
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 side—he couldn’t reach its peak due to bad weather conditions and stopped nearly one thousand meters before (1998); he climbed the Aconcagua from the Argentinean side again—this 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 Fulton’s 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 established—which 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 artist’s 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.
Alexia Tala, March 2013. Curatorial Text
The project originates from an invitation by Plataforma Atacama to the UK artist Hamish Fulton to produce a walk through the Atacama desert. Curated by Alexia Tala, Fulton organised and defined a system of walking and route itinerary through the desert area starting from the small village of Machuca onto the Geysers of Tatio. Having with him information on area distances, height, temperature, camping zones, and natural reserves, as well as route maps, and resting zones, together with curator Alexia Tala conceived the hike towards Jorquencal mountain. In total, Fulton underwent 4 hikes in 14 days.
The Atacama Desert is located in northern Chile at a height of 2,348-metres and is known as the most arid desert in the world. With an extension of over 105,000 km2, Atacama is surrounded by the Central Andes dry puna and volcanoes presenting one of the most attractive and intriguing landscapes of Chile. Machuca is a small village in Atacama located at a height of 4,050-metres. The village is home to about 15 people, in its majority indigenous to the region.
The British artist Hamish Fulton defined his art practice during the late 1960s as focusing on the experience of walking. He was not unaware of the influences of the period, which were demonstrating a shift from the formalist attitudes represented by minimalism towards an idea of dematerialization of art, manifest in the emerging exhibitions of process art.
One of Hamish Fulton’s earliest works/experiments as a sculpture student at Saint Martins School of Art in London was “Hitchhiking Times from London to Andorra and from Andorra to London” (1967), in which he and two other artists travelled by “hitchhiking” and recorded the time-space displacements while travelling. Here was an indication of how the actual process was becoming more important than the art object.
Art was beginning to leave the studio. Land Art (USA) and Outdoor Sculpture (UK) were becoming important movements and artists working outdoors tended to be categorised under these labels. Hamish Fulton has constantly tried to distance himself from these classifications and defines himself as a walking artist.
The best definition of his practice is that of a walking artist, but if his work has to be classified it might be closer to what Miwon Kwon defined as site-oriented practices.
Fulton also addresses the rights of nature and interventions within it, questioning how some artists carry material from the landscape to the gallery to give shape to the work, in a gesture that profoundly and politically distances him from these artistic movements. From this standpoint, and countering endless attempts to pigeonhole his work, Fulton proclaims himself as a walking artist, whose artwork is the practice and experience of walking.
It was a decision that took several years to be defined. Fulton does not work at random, he develops a variety of structured ideas, repetition walks, the series of seven one-day walks, walks of 14 and 21 days, in different territories, some of which are highly demanding, both physically and psychologically, and require many months of preparation, such as his ascent of Everest in 2009. They have been carried out in more than twenty countries, with different contexts, yet all his walks are connected by “running clear ideas, with a defined structure, with a beginning and an end.”
He has made eight expeditions in Latin American since 1972 but has only exhibited once, in Mexico City.
1972 – travels to Peru and Bolivia via Chile with Richard Long, visiting the Nazca lines and walking up to 20,000 feet in Illampu – Bolivia.
1974 – returns to Peru for several solo walks.
1979 – walks in Mexico with Richard Long, Orizaba Peak (5,611 meters)
1981 – walks in Bolivia with Richard Long
1987 – walks in Mexico with Richard Long
1998 – attempts to climb Aconcagua from Argentina but fails to reach the top due to unfavourable weather conditions, turning back more than one thousand meters before the summit.
2003 – walks and reaches the summit of Aconcagua from Argentina side.
2012 – walks in the Atacama Desert in Chile and climbs Licancabur volcano from Bolivia.
Recording the experience of walking in different ways, his works use a variety of media and languages, including print, wood and ribbon works, slowalks, drawing and painting, but it is perhaps most familiar as photographs and wall paintings containing factual data such as distances, times, heights and places, but without any personal description of the artist or events in the landscape.
ALEXIA TALA: Curator
Alexia Tala was born in Santiago, Chile where she currently lives and works. Master in Arts by the Camberwell College of Arts, she was co-curator of the first Bienal de Performance Deformes (Chile, 2006) and the Museum Man at the show “Historia de la Desaparición (archives Franklin Furnace – Centro Cultural Palacio La Moneda, Chile, 2007), curator of “Focus Brasil” in Chile (2010) and adjunct curator of the 8ª Bienal do Mercosul. She writes for art magazines in England and in Latin America and is the author of the publication “Installations and Experimental Printmaking” (United Kingdom, 2009). Currently, she is curator of the Club de Grabado of the Museo de la Solidaridad Salvador Allende in Chile and Artistic Director of “Plataforma Atacama.”
Event: Talk & Walk:
Talk: ATACAMA 1234567. A conversation with the artist and the curator covering Fulton’s artistic practice and his experiences in the Atacama Desert, where he climbed Jorquencal peak seven times during the fortnight spent in the small village of Machuca. Hamish Fulton opens the meeting with a performatic monologue in which he intends to poetically reveal his experiences through a stream of consciousness. April 1, 5:30PM, Sala Cultura Inglesa of the British Council,
Walk: April 4, at 1 PM, the artist invites the public for the slowalk through Ibirapuera Park, São Paulo. Curator Alexia Tala
Exhibition + Publication: Galeria Nara Roesler. ATACAMA 1234567, the first solo show by the UK artist Hamish Fulton in South America. Hamish Fulton’s stay in the community of Machuca and San Pedro in Atacama will be showcased in a solo exhibition at Galeria Nara Roesler in São Paulo. The exhibition will be part of the gallery’s parallel programme of curatorial projects Roesler Hotel and will coincide with the launch of the publication “Atacama” the exhibition catalogue, which highlights and maps the artist’s expedition and experiences through the Atacama Desert.
Curated by Alexia Tala, director of Plataforma Atacama, the show presents works developed over the course of forty years and recent works resulting from his experiences in the Atacama Desert, northern region of Chile. galeria nara roesler, avenida europa 655, são Paulo, sp brasil 01449-001