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Markings (Sacred Landscapes)


In her recent exhibit Markings (Sacred Landscapes), Marilyn Bridges offers a small survey of photographs she took during her numerous flights over the desolate plains of Peru, Gaza, Egypt, and the vast rain forests of the Yucatán.

Looking at the work in sequence, in "Pathway to Infinity" (1979), "Yarn & Needle"(1979), "Nazca, Peru" (1979), and "Arrows Over Rise" (1979), I was reminded of the earth works of Robert Smithson, James Turrell, Richard Long, Michael Heizer, all artists who turned away from the early modernist fixation on primitive painting and sculpture in favor of the monumental organizational patterns of prehistoric culture. Especially in the picture of "Serpent Mound, Ohio"(1982), Bridges’s photographs immediately resurrected my memory of Heizer’s "Effigy Tummuli" in Buffalo Rock State Park in Illinois in 1990. Previously this had been an extensive strip mining area, though by moving the earth to form mounds and embankments into images of a catfish, a frog, a snapping turtle, a water strider, and a snake, Heizer symbolically reclaimed the land’s natural harmony in both an artistically and environmentally positive sense.

Marilyn Bridges’s photographs are made in a similar spirit. At first superficial glance, one could easily miss the level of detail and the astonishing clarity. In this respect, Bridges has made a significant contribution to the documentation of the earth’s ancient and sacred places. However, the pervasive concept of space-time in her work, as an overview, has in fact revealed more of her own personal meditation on the idea of sacred landscapes. Rather than its usual tie to the conventional or scientific extrapolation, Bridges’s elegant photographs do not rely on the architectonic vision from above. They are rather full of nostalgia and spiritual longing. Her photographs are an elegant collision of Ansel Adams and Saint Exupéry in mid-air.


Tomassio Longhi

TOMASSIO LONGHI is a contributor to the Rail.


The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2003

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