Nancy Holt – Sound As Sculpture


Holt/Smithson Foundation / The Warehouse Dallas, English, 108 pages, 2022, USA

Nancy Holt was an artist who experimented with a variety of media, and this catalogue focuses on her audio works. In particular, her early audio tours from the late 1960s and 1970s can be seen as pioneering an approach to describing and recording space in audio form, which was thereafter gradually developed in parallel with new media. What she calls “poem in place” resonates, in fact, with more recent formulations of field recordings and the automatic narrative of geolocation, along with a more general attitude in art to the exploration of situated dimensions. Her spoken descriptions of space become ‘verbal photographs’, in which perceptions of the surrounding environment are sometimes meticulously described and mediated by her sensitivity to what she calls “the interplay between words and things”. Two essays are included: Lisa Le Feuvre, director of the Holt/Smithson Foundation, introduces her work, while Thomas Feulmer, curator of the Sound as Sculpture exhibition, provides a comprehensive, properly contextualised analysis in which theory and practice are scrutinised and seamlessly linked. Finally, the catalogue features a section of reproductions of Holt’s typewritten scores for her “Tours and Visual Sound Zones”, with many handwritten notes documenting her commitment to these audio-based works.