In a remote expanse of desert in northwestern Utah, four enormous concrete cylinders lie in an X pattern, like lost sections of some abandoned pipeline. On the winter solstice, at sunrise and sunset, the sun streams through the center of two of the tunnels. The other tunnels catch the sun on the summer solstice. Betweentimes, “star holes” form ever-shifting spots of light that represent the constellations Draco, Perseus, Columba, and Capricorn.
Sun Tunnels, completed in 1976, is the creation of Nancy Holt, J60, whose art encompasses sculpture and site-specific installations, film, and photography. The massive array is typical of her work. “What I was doing over and over again,” she told an interviewer, “was manifesting outwardly in physical form the universe as it is within.”
Holt’s art has been exhibited widely, from the Museum of Modern Art in New York to the Tate Modern in London. A retrospective, Nancy Holt: Sightlines, is on display at the Tufts University Art Gallery through April 1. It includes forty works of photography and video from the 1960s and ’70s (including the image above), and is free and open to the public. For more information, see bit.ly/holt_tufts.