Mary Mattingly’s Filling Double Negative in Brooklyn Rail

I made the journey to Double Negative with the artist Mary Mattingly in a 113-degree heat wave between the third and fourth of July. The fact that our trip coincided with Independence Day underscored a certain Americanness in the work's grand scale and location. We attempted (and failed) to camp at the base of its northern swath. Like my 2011 visit to Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty in a frigid Utah winter, the unpredictable and circumscribing site-specific weather played a large role in the experience of the work. Approximately an hour and a half northeast of Las Vegas, Double Negative is situated in the crumbling capillary ridges that descend from the east side of Mormon Mesa, which was once the bottom of a prehistoric ocean. With a four-wheel drive Jeep, we made our approach through a segment of steep, winding dirt roads, crested the mesa and were guided with ease to the site by a map application on my smartphone.

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