“Ancient Language,” Atacama Desert, Chile
From high plains to deep gorges, deserts to rural fields, sculptor Andrew Rogers uses rock walls to outline the forms of symbols important to cultures around the world. Over the past decade, his massive land art pieces have spanned five continents.
The world’s largest land art exhibit he debuted in Turkey’s Cappadocia region is just part of his ambitious “Rhythms of Life” project. Here are 10 of his awe-inspiring artworks. (Pics)
The wedge-tailed eagle is an important ancestral spirit of the Kulin land in western Australia. The indigenous Wathaurong people believe the eagle “made the animals and the plants and taught the people how to behave on Earth….and how to conduct the ceremonies that would ensure the continuation of life” — a theme Rogers says resonated with his concept of his project as “a continuous link between past and present.”
“Rhythms of Life,” Australia
This design is one that Rogers replicates around the world. It juxtaposes “shapes and lines echoing the unpredictable journey through life,” the artist says. This version was formed along the southern coastline of Australia, in Geelong, where the area’s slabs and boulders of local limestone provided Rogers with raw materials.
This symbol below the 2,500-year-old Spišsky Castle in Slovakia depicts the image of a Celtic horse discovered on “an ancient coin found in the region, which was the crossroad of major trading routes and an important commercial center,” Rogers says. “In Celtic culture, the horse was a symbol of power associated with war and valor.”
“Ancient Language,” Chile
This undulating two-headed creature is based on an ancient Aguadan petroglyph of a llama found near the Rio Grande in Chile. Rogers constructed the work on the poetically named Plain of Patience at the end of the Valley of the Moon, named for its lunar-like landscape formations.
“The Messenger,” China
Situated in the Gobi Desert not far from the end of China’s Great Wall along the ancient Silk Road network of trade routes, this figure on horseback is inspired by a drawing found in the nearby tomb of an emperor of the Wei Jin Dynasty.
“The figure depicts a royal messenger whose task was to ride the length of the empire carrying important news and messages,” Rogers says. “Thus the image reinforces the idea of interconnections that tie a people and world together.”
This work spells out the word for “now” in runes, the ancient Icelandic language, in a location 60 miles from the Arctic Circle. Rogers says he was drawn to the idea of sculpting “the concept of the passing moment, ‘now’… [in] rocks delved from a 10-million-year-old mountain.”
“Rhythms of Life,” India
In India, Rogers repeated his iconic “geoglyph” on an extremely steep hillside located in an arid semi-desert area in Rajasthan. The site is near a 400-year-old fortress and a 1,200-year-old temple, which corresponds with his pattern of selecting locations with rich human history for his works.
This work in Israel’s Arava Desert, an ancient inland sea bed, is “a huge cross section of a nautilus shell with an intricate expanding form that provides a metaphor for the possibility of growth and rebirth in this now nearly lifeless place,” Rogers says.
This ancient symbol of a maze was constructed in Jonsom, Nepal, in the deepest gorge on earth, near a river held sacred by local people.
Though labyrinths around the world may vary in their form, Rogers says they are “all characterized by a single meandering path leading from a center point to an exit. In both Hinduism and Buddhism, the labyrinth is seen as a path of contemplation for those seeking divine wisdom or peace.”
Located 4,360 meters above sea level on a ridge of the Cerro Rico Mountains in Bolivia, “Circles” is the highest contemporary land art installation in the world.
Its concentric rings are based on a petroglyph found in the nearby area of Betanzos, which may have marked a grave or the birth of a firstborn child, or signify a fertility symbol or an element of sun worship.