UNDER MASS

A PERFORMANCE WITH MICHAEL HEIZER'S LEVITATED MASS 

UNTITLED (FINDING BALANCE UNDER MASS), 2021

UNTITLED (UNDER MASS), 2021

UNTITLED (STANDING UNDER MASS), 2021

UNTITLED (FOR MY SISTER CANDANCE), 2021

UNTITLED, 2021

LEVITATED MASS + CIARRA K. WALTERS 

When I first saw these photos I didn't think much about them. All I could see were the things I did wrong like positioning, poses, framing, flow, and the list goes on. This is not unusual to my process. I normally find the bad and on a random night I'll remember that I shot this or performed that and then I will revisit the work I rolled my eyes at to find myself falling in love with it! 

Like my photos and performance I overlooked Michael Heizer's Levitated Mass. I have been in LA for almost six years now and have spent a fair amount of time in LACMA's courtyard where Heizer's sculpture has lived since 2012. 

I'm not sure if I have ever really appreciated or thought twice about the sculpture. I thought it was cool that this walkway-tunnel took you under the boulder and as easy as it was to be underneath it, it was even easier to stand right next to it too. You could experience Levitated Mass from all sides and angles, but again, I never really thought much about it. 


t wasn't until I was in Maryland when I started to understand how beautiful this sculpture actually is. I was watching the documentary, Levitated Mass, The Story of Micheal Heizer's Monolithic Sculpture, when I realized this right here, is legendary.
 

Levitated Mass by Michael Heizer 6.jpg

UNTITLED (PEACE UNDER MASS), 2021

Over the last year I have seen a few of Micheal Heizer's work at both Dia in New York and The Glenstone in Maryland and every time my love for this man and his work deepens. Heizer is one of the artists associated with the land art movement that emerged out of the 60s and 70s, a movement I feel connected to with my own art practice. I feel like I understand Heizer. I too look at the earth and see art.

Going back to this performance and these photos, like Levitated Mass, I did not appreciate the art until I saw the process behind it. Getting this 340-ton boulder into LA was not easy and neither was shooting and performing under it with the little time I had! Levitated Mass is a popular attraction and many people walk under it daily. I had about 5 minutes to perform and take self portraits before more people entered the walkway. 

 

The moment I relooked at these photos and videos the cliche phrase hit me, "It's about the journey, not the destination." Yes, Levitated Mass is beautiful. It compelling to look at and be around. It is art, but what made me understand the value of this work of art was the journey and the story behind Heizer's vision for this boulder. It would not be an easy journey, but Heizer never gave up and patiently waited for years and the funds to bring this work of art to life.

UNDER MASS, A PERFORMANCE BY CIARRA K. WALTERS 

On a cloudy day I was driving by LACMA when it hit me: I needed to take self portraits under Levitated Mass. I saw it in my head and about a week or so later the vision in my head would come to life with the help of my friend Jaquen, who not only shot the videos for me, but gave me the little push I needed to forget about the surroundings and the other people. 

A REFLECTION
I love how isolated I felt in this walkway, under this massive boulder. It was the freedom I felt running back and forth, bare foot, jumping into pose after pose. It was the nerves running through my body, worried that a guard or person would walk down at any moment, stopping the shoot or performance. It was the excitement of not being able to think, but to move, to move quiccckly, I might add. 

Most importantly, I love how tiny I felt compared to this massive, nature made object. This year in particular, I have noticed my need to be around the ocean, mountains, boulders, honestly, anything that Mother Earth has built that makes me feel small. This smallness I was searching for made me feel like anything was possible. These places served as a reminder that the world is so much larger than me....

And I have begun to realize and accept it's not even about me...something I feel we all need to think about as climate change and political change is wiping out humanity and nature. It's not about you. The world is so much bigger than you and as cliche as it is, how do you make this world a better place? 


Under Mass has made me ask myself those questions and Levitated Mass is what inspired those questions. I am sure through time meanings will reveal themselves and I am open to all that may or may not come.