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Jim Denevan

Angle of Repose


In Denevan’s exploration of geometry and scale relationships, Angle of Repose, sand is collected in a rhythmic composition of 365 mounds radially emerging around a central point. With the passage of the sun, the slow erosion of gravity, and the participation of time itself, this piece emphasizes softening, shadow, and change, and promises to place us within the transitory experience of time itself. 

With ample room between each hill, the visitor can walk through the entire composition. Each viewer is encouraged to thread the mounds in a contemplative journey—flowing between a variety of scales of relationship and perception. Each person is an essential participant in the composition, augmenting the construction of these relational scales with their own methods of delineation and choice. 

The first concentric circle of the composition is made up of 26 mounds—each the size of a newborn child. Over the course of numerous iterations of exponential growth, the last mounds reach the height of a tall adult. Placing ourselves within the mounds, we are offered a relational measurement opportunity. The gestures of scale also extend in either direction: 118 iterations more and each mound is the size of the sun; 118 iterations further toward the center and each mound is the size of an individual carbon atom. While the sand begins wet at the angle of repose of 45 degrees, over the six weeks of the exhibition, the sand will dry and the angle will gradually shift to 34 degrees. At the very center of the composition, every curve, line, and hill find their end—and begin all over again. 

Jim Denevan (b. 1961, United States, based in Santa Cruz) is an artist, chef, and founder of Outstanding in the Field. Through his land art, Denevan interacts with the earth’s topography to create works of varying scale in sand, earth, and ice. Each is ephemeral in nature, disappearing with the tides, the winds, and the seasonal progressions. In the tables he sets and the land artworks he creates, there is an element of organic impermanence at play. Denevan has been commissioned to create artworks globally, both in commercial and artistic spaces. Documentation of his land drawings have been exhibited at the Vancouver International Sculpture Biennale; the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco; MoMA PS1, New York; and the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, among others. His life and art are the subject of the recently released film Man in the Field (2021).

Angle of Repose
26.651056, 37.992889
AlUla, Saudi Arabia
Desert X AlUla 2022