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Ball-Nogues Creates A Climbable Sculpture In The Mojave

One generally doesn’t think of public art as generating anything more than civic enjoyment (Richard Serra’s Tilted Arc notwithstanding). But such installations can sometimes result in artistic waste — as Ball-Nogues Studio discovered after completing Talus Dome, a massive sculpture of stainless-steel spheres intended for a freeway embankment in Edmonton, Alberta, that left behind a huge, otherwise useless formwork. Now, the studio is hoping to repurpose the formwork for another intervention: a climbing structure and man-made oasis that will sit in California’s Yucca Valley.

Yucca Crater, a cavernous pool standing 24 feet tall, will be hosted by the High Desert Test Sites, which every year invites artists to create experimental projects on a site adjacent to Joshua Tree National Park. This fall, visitors to Yucca Crater will be able to make their way into and out of eight feet of water via rock-climbing holds lining the interior shell. The designers state that the structure, although fully man-made, is a riff land art, because it comments on man’s intervention on the natural landscape. It’s also a nod to the abandoned swimming pools scattered across the Mojave Desert.

Our concern relates to liability: Imagine the litigious nightmare should someone fall from the holds, get knocked unconscious, and sink into eight feet of water. “The project is on private land,” the studio tells Co.Design. “Liability questions are in the process of being worked out.” We’d certainly hope so.

Ball-Nogues is currently trying to raise half of the $30,000 needed to disassemble the Talus Dome formwork, package and ship it to Yucca Valley, and reconstruct it on-site as an interactive public artwork. The funding campaign ends this week; to contribute go here.

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