New Wilderness

1995 / SITE Santa Fe, NM / Installation

Belmore drove from Sioux Lookout to Santa Fe taking a long route through thirteen states, collecting soil samples and souvenir cups along the way to map the journey. One of the stops was Oklahoma City, where the federal building had been bombed a few months earlier: [as Belmore described] “The building had been taken down… There was a chain link fence inside of which they were cleaning up the rubble with bulldozers. Basically, what was left was just a mound of dirt. While we were there as tourists, hanging out at the fence, there were other people from all over the U.S. who came to witness. They decorated the fence with poems and teddy-bears. People would talk with each other, express their horror… They were shocked at the violence within. When we got to Santa Fe, I took the soil samples I had collected, formed them in the inside of the cups and sun-dried them, which is how the local people do their adobe. There are 168 of them—which is the number of people who died in the bombing…”

Belmore named the Santa Fe piece New Wilderness. “The new wilderness that we live in now is, of course, this violence within our own fence, within our own territories.”

Debbie O’Rourke, An Artist in the New Wilderness: Interventions by Rebecca Belmore, Espace, 1997-1998

Photo credit: Robert Keziere / SITE Santa Fe