Richard Serra’s Inaccessible and Embattled “Shift”
Writer Sarah Zabrodski examines Shift, Richard Serra’s enigmatic and inaccessible land art work, in her latest entry for art blog Hyperallergic. Located in a cornfield on private property 50 kilometers north of Toronto in King City, Ontario, Shift has been at the center of heated political debate as to its status as a protected cultural heritage site. Zabrodski made the trek to the rapidly-developing King City to search out the large-scale sculpture and investigate the many complex issues surrounding public access to the work and its conservation:
Although structurally sound, the sculpture is clearly in need of conservation. While no one expects Land Art to remain in pristine condition, the giant cracks and graffiti are evidence of patent neglect. The status quo is untenable. The CRB — and by extension the provincial government’s — lukewarm stance on “Shift” as a matter of historical, artistic, and civic importance is, quite frankly, embarrassing. Serra is a world-renowned artist and “Shift” a remarkable early career sculpture – he was only 32 at the time of construction. It is also one of only two Serra sculptures made of concrete, as steel is the artist’s preferred sculptural material. The municipal embrace of “Shift” and open recognition of its significance is laudable.
Details of Zabrodski’s investigation, and images of the work, are available here.