THE MONUMENTS OF COLUMBUS, OHIO
Exhibition 2010 | Gallery OSU Urban Arts Space
North of Interstate 670, crystalline cones of road salt change shape and elevation with the seasons. In the interchange of Interstate 70 and 670 sumac, wild rose and black locust colonizes broken concrete slabs among abandoned rail lines. West of Highway 315 cliffs and clear pools are framed by gray birch growing in fractured limestone. These feral landscapes, comprised of thickets, stockpiles, and industrial ruins structure the urban matrices of Columbus, Ohio. “The Monuments of Columbus” are investigations, interpretations, and figurations of these obscure sites that comprise the fringes and fallow grounds of the city.
“The Monuments of Columbus” is both a tribute to and reinterpretation of Robert Smithson’s 1967 essay “A Tour of the Monuments of Passaic, New Jersey”. In the essay, Smithson frames bridges, pipes, and parking lots as a series of “monuments” that structure the relaxed urban fabric of Passaic. His essay is both a tour and a curatorial endeavor that asks us to look closer at the in-between, infrastructural landscapes that support and define our cities and towns. Matthew Coolidge and the Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI), contemporary landscape curators operating out of Culver City, California, Troy New York and Wendover Utah, are expanding Smithson’s line of inquiry into a series of nationwide exhibitions, tours, and publications to inform the public about the“nature and extent of human interaction with the earth’s surface”1. “The Monuments of Columbus” begins with Smithson and CLUI, and digs deeply into the landscape zeitgeist of central Ohio.
Work in the exhibition, produced by the community of students, faculty and collaborators of the Landscape Architecture Section of the Knowlton School of Architecture at The Ohio State University, includes inventories, mappings, experimental geographies, sonic tours, and imagined and projected futures for the landscape of Columbus. This is the city-now: the ruins, remnants and piles, the sites unstewarded and open to interpretation and exploration. These are sites of imagination and speculation. The exhibition offers residents and visitors opportunities to position themselves in an alternative Columbus, as real as the one we inhabit daily. It is an invitation to transgress our ordinary spatial boundaries, to discover, inhabit, and imagine a city more wild, robust and full of possibility.