Roden Crater is scheduled for completion sometime in 2011. This may at first seem a manageable goal but the proposition takes on more dubious overtones when you consider James Turrell has been consistently working toward completing this most audacious work of art since 1978. Beset by financial and artistic setbacks, even 33 years seems ambitious given the mind-blowing monumentality of the task at hand. He’s hollowing out a 400,000-year-old, dormant volcano that’s over two miles across, hauling countless tons of rock and soil out while pouring concrete in, to produce a labyrinthine series of tunnels and viewing chambers that allow the oculus of the cone to become a canvas through which light, sky and astronomy play out in an artistic embrace.
The crater’s exact location had been purposely shrouded in mystery, but with the advent of modern surveillance technologies, it’s no longer possible to be lost or to remain hidden in the desert. This has led to a number of renegade art lovers who hold loose definitions of trespassing to sneak onto and into the site. The recent uptick in unauthorized visitors has to be partially attributed to the ease at which you can get exact coordinates from google satellite maps. I had seriously considered trying to infiltrate myself onto Turrell’s property, and as cool as it would be to either preview Roden Crater or be able to say that James Turrell tried to shoot me, I understand where he’s coming from. I’d be none too pleased if some intrepid aesthete sneaked into my apartment to surreptitiously sneak glances at my half-finished life’s work. So I had to make due with this (much, much) smaller scale Turrell sky chamber at the Scottsdale Museum of Art. Hopefully, I’ll make it back out to the Arizona desert in 2011.