"The Gift" sculpture in Cappadocia, where hot-air balloon tours are a popular way to see the region. Photo via Andrew Rogers.
The surreal natural formations of Turkey's Cappadocia region, where soft volcanic rocks have eroded over the eons into fanciful cones and spires, now have some serious man-made competition for tourist attention: The world's largest contemporary land art park, comprising 10 giant sculptures made out of more than 10,500 tons of stone.Australian sculptor Andrew Rogers picked this part of central Turkey for the latest installment of his five-continent "Rhythms of Life" art project due to its natural beauty and long history of settlement by many civilizations. Some 230 local residents worked over the past three years to help him assemble, one rock at a time, the massive stylized forms inspired by aspects of the area's history and culture -- including an ancient millstone, a horse based on a 6,000-year-old carving displayed at a local museum, and a date palm resembling a relief on a 13th-century tomb in a nearby town.
"Rhythms of Life." Photo via Andrew Rogers.
Materials and Workers from the Region
Though land art has been somewhat controversial because it is an incursion into the natural environment, practitioners such as Rogers say they are drawing attention to the landscape while creating minimal impact, generally in part by using materials found on-site.
"It is important to me that the stones I use in my sculptures belong to the region. The value of the sculpture is enhanced when the local people who own these lands are involved in the work," Rogers told Turkish Airlines' SkyLife magazine. "There is a thread of life running from past to present in the lands in which we live, and we are obligated to take that life into consideration and to preserve its existing values. We owe this to future generations."
The Cappadocia exhibit, called "Time and Space," had its official opening over the weekend at Sculpture Park (Heykel Parkı) near the town of Göreme with a ceremony featuring a concert by the Borusan Philharmonic Orchestra. The nine-meter high sculptures cover an area of seven kilometers.
In total, the "Rhythms of Life" project, begun in 1998, includes 40 sculptures in 12 countries -- Australia, Bolivia, Chile, China, Iceland, India, Israel, Nepal, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, and the United States, in addition to Turkey.
More about land art:
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Radical Nature Comes to the Art Gallery
Land Art at Risk
Art or Oil: Drilling Near Utah's Famous 'Spiral Jetty' Earthwork
Etsy Spotlight: Richard Shilling, Land Artist