Artist Oscar Santillan removed a 1″ rock from the summit of Scafell Pike, England’s highest peak, and placed it on a plinth in a London gallery to create an artwork called “The Intruder,” but locals accuse him of vandalism and want their mountain back.
Santillan describes his work:
What I have done is a small suggestive gesture that reflects on the way in which humans have imposed their cultural categories over nature.
The description of the work at Copperfield Gallery:
The artist has taken the uppermost inch of the highest mountain in England.
An entire nation’s height is modified and its landscape redefined by means of a single precise action. The artist explores the way in which human categories are imposed on nature: the largest, the tallest, the most powerful.
Just curious: How is it that when a white male American gorges a 1500 foot trench into the side of a natural canyon and dumps the 244,000 tons of removed rock into the canyon, it is called “Land Art,” but when a Latin American artist removes a 1-inch rock from the top of a reportedly odiferous 3,200 foot peak (Mt. Diablo is 640 feet taller, and much cleaner, by comparison), it is vandalism?
In the same way that a white male German pilot can deliberately crash a plane, killing 150 people, and it is anything but terrorism as he’s pictured smiling in front of the Golden Gate Bridge, and yet by contrast, as Zak Cheney-Rice points out, “black victims — like Michael Brown, who never killed anyone at all — are presented as scowling, threatening ‘thugs.'”
By the same logic, it makes sense then that Englanders would get upset when a Latin American artist removes a 1″ rock, while the British Museum—one of the largest repositories of art looted from around the globe during imperial and colonial rule—refuses to repatriate any of its massive collection of stolen goods (because there would essentially be nothing left in the museum).