Nick Larsen, an artist from Nevada living in Santa Fe, works in the no-man’s land between fictional archaeological inventory and autobiography.
“Queer Mountain is an uninhabited high-desert wilderness near Death Valley, and it is difficult to see. I tried, unsuccessfully, to go there a few summers ago after finding it on a map while planning a road trip elsewhere. I made it to the outskirts, but an intense fire season followed by a wet winter had washed out the three roads in, and I was forced to head back the same way I came without seeing any of it. It wasn’t until much later that I started to think of this failed trip, my inability to reach this place, as an analogue for a kind of fantasy tethered to landscape, a fantasy about what might be, what might have been, and what could be in the “empty” spaces of the arid western United States, spaces with evocative names and, seemingly, not much else. The map-like reliefs, large-scale collages, material catalogues, and fictional artifacts that comprise my current work—all forms I encountered during the six years I worked in archaeology—draw out and articulate this fantasy.
“The desert is a place defined by what it lacks, its bleakness an invitation to project and speculate, to imagine new possibilities in the abandoned mining structures and boarded-up brothels. In the no-man’s land between fictional archaeological inventory and autobiography, I’ve found terrain to map and mine both what’s present and visible in the desert landscape and, maybe more importantly, what isn’t. This speculative groundwork supports other preoccupations: camouflage as landscape painting, sewing as sculptural drawing, color naming, place naming, bandanas becoming hankies, jackrabbit homesteads and ghost town reoccupation, punk merch, interior design mood boards, map legend poetics, shotgun spray on roadside signs, vestiges and artifacts, excavation and survey patterns, and the meaningful human activity that trans- forms a place into a site.”
Nick Larsen is an artist living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He studied at the University of Nevada, Reno and the Ohio State University, where he received an MFA in sculpture.