So I'm back looking at Michael Heizer's Levitated Mass, this time without the crowds. And the feeling I had on first seeing it, is confirmed. It's too small.
The accompanying exhibition Michael Heizer's Actual Size shows portraits of selected rocks, with a person for scale comparison bearing a placard with the rock's dimensions, the photos are blown up so the rock is allegedly represented at actual size. What is noticeable about the portraits is how distinguished the rocks are in their natural settings.
The Chinese have a tradition of Character Rocks, huge hunks of nature lovingly dragged into gardens for contemplation and thrills. The portraits seem to capture some of the same sense of wonder.
Then we have the poor captive specimen stranded in the middle of a huge empty tract. It's like an elephant with an ankle chain. My initial hope for the piece was that we would feel that it was just balanced on the walls of the sunken walkway. That on walking underneath we would sense its huge bulk above our heads, levitated. I wanted to feel the awe.
But underneath I see its heavy duty supports. The bolts drilled into it and the way they have lopped off a segment to get it to lie flat against the support on one side - a process that has left a deep straight scar about a foot long cut into in the underside.
I know this is earthquake territory and you can't have an untethered boulder hanging over the heads of the general public, but surely there was some other way to achieve the support that was not so intrusive? And as you walk away, the long walk around the outside of the enclosure, the main sense is one of pity. It seems such a little boulder in the end, so compromised, and so very small.