The Car Garden
As an American land art enthusiast I, like many others, have spent hours trekking down desert roads to get Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, Michael Heizer’s Double Negative, or Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels, but Tom Merkel’s insane, insipred Car Garden, 1200 cars (and whatever was inside of them at the time they were acquired) out rusting on a California hillside, was new to me.
Via Car and Driver:
The major conglomeration, though, is a mile-long, four-lane clot of cars that snake through the garden with some precision. That’s the Lost Highway.
“The massive 20th-century time-capsule monument project, the Lost Highway, came about by happenstance,” he told me in a long handwritten letter (he doesn’t own a typewriter or a computer). “My folks had both died when I was 21, and to fill the emotional void, I had compulsive preservation . . .
“The four-lane, mile-long time-line traffic jam, vignettes, et cetera, are very much a massive time capsule from the 20th century—and a very honest one in that it’s honestly representational . . . . After all, everyone didn’t drive Mustangs, woodies, and ’34 Ford hot rods in the years following World War II as the movies would lead us to believe. Yet that’s all the young kids get to see.
“The work in progress is basically the 20th-century equivalent of the Chinese clay soldiers,” he rambled forth, referring to the astounding Terracotta Army of more than 6000 life-size statues uncovered by peasants in 1974 that for 2200 years have guarded the massive tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang near the city of Xi’an.
The Lost Highway is “a deliberate ruin, a cultural time capsule of sorts, a celebration of Southern California auto culture intended for the study and enjoyment of generations to come.
Its location is rather jealously guarded, though things magazine throws down the gauntlet to find it on Google Earth. Anyone got the coordinates?
This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009 at 12:26 pm and is filed under Etc., Traffic Culture. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.