Snow is one of my very favourite things. I might not like the inconvenience of it and I’m not keen on the slip hazard aspect but that fades into insignificance against the way it looks. So snow as art is something I might reasonably be expected to love, right? Well, as it turns out, not necessarily.
In the run up to his exhibition at the Barbican in 2000, Andy Goldsworthy brought thirteen giant snowballs to London, placing them around the city to be discovered on midsummer day. The snowballs, each weighing approximately a ton and approximately 2m across, had been made in Scotland during the previous two winters and kept in cold-storage in readiness. Embedded in them were reminders of the rural landscape from which they originated which would become more apparent as the snow melted leaving behind the twigs, pebbles, sheep’s wool, barbed wire and so on.
When I think about the role of art – if it can be said to have one – I think I fundamentally see it as holding a mirror up to the world. I guess this means art tells us stuff me already know, it just switches things around a bit, creating familiarity tinged with an oddness that somehow focuses the mind. Having just written that, I’m inclined to think it proves I probably shouldn’t think about the role of art at all. It just makes me spout art crap.
The list of art works I really want to see is quite a long one, but somewhere towards the top – and part of an as yet imaginary art holiday that includes other pieces of American land art – is Walter de Maria’s The Lightning Field. In the middle of nowhere, about three hours drive from Albuquerque, The Lightning Field is, um, basically a field. With, if you’re very lucky (and most who visit it won’t be), some lightning.