• Catherine Belsey


The English artist Richard Long does walks, sometimes recording them with photographs and maps. A photograph from 1967 shows ‘A line made by walking’. There is also a square of pebbles positioned on a Somerset beach, a circle of stones in the Andes and an arrangement of driftwood on a beach in Alaska. Clearly this enterprise marks a relation between human activity and the natural world, recognising the priority of external nature and the relative impermanence of human intervention. But it is crucial to its meaning and effect that such work cannot be bought and sold, resisting commodification and recuperation by the world of dealers, galleries and museums: as Long says, ‘Some of my stone works can be seen, but not recognised as art’ (Fuchs 1980: 236). He spurns reference in favour of act and practice: ‘My art is the essence of my experience, not a representation of it’ (236). Long’s work is almost invisible, on the very verge of impossibility. Are his constructs indeed useless experiences and not useful representations? Could they be? Well, there are the photographs, otherwise we might not know about them at all.


Cultural Study Theoretical Paradigm External Nature Stone Work Tabloid Newspaper 
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© Diane Easthope and Catherine Belsey 2002

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  • Catherine Belsey

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