Tame Buzzard Line by Richard Long

Richard Long

Tame Buzzard Line, 2001, Stones, New Art Centre, Roche Court, England, © Richard Long. All Rights Reserved, DACS, London / ARS, NY; Photo: ArtImage

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Marking the Place

Commentary by

Whether it is the trace that is left through the grass of a field, or a line, a circle, or an ellipse of slate, or flint arranged in patterns on a gallery floor, the art of Richard Long is about marking and moving through space. Long’s Tame Buzzard Line is constructed with local flint stones and marks the straight flight path of a raptor to a fence from a tree standing alone in a field.

As Tame Buzzard Line traces a movement (however transient) through space, it also delineates space. Space is boundless and indeterminate, and it reaches out towards an ever-extending horizon. But in delineating space, the artist is indicating—even helping to create—the particularity of a place.

Likewise, in offering his prayer of dedication, Solomon is delineating the spaces of the Temple complex in Jerusalem to be a place: a place of prayer. And in the retelling of this incident in 2 Chronicles, the point is made that the Temple is not only a place where prayer is offered, but where it is received by God (2 Chronicles 6:39; 7:15).

Tame Buzzard Line records something specific, something that occurred in time and space: the buzzard flew here, in this direction, and between these two points. A buzzard can fly in all directions and at various heights, but in marking this flight in a line, Long is making a sacrament of stone, making visible the invisible flight path of the buzzard on one specific occasion.

King Solomon acknowledged that the divine cannot be contained, and that the divine Spirit roamed freely over the whole face of the earth (Genesis 1:2b; John 3:8 ‘the Spirit moves where it wills’). But God is here and there, and as a line marks a certain place and a circle creates a zone, so in the delineation and dedication of its different spaces, the Temple built of stone became a holy place. For although God is ubiquitous—a God who is everywhere and may be encountered anywhere—he is known in the place where his name is invoked, where the weight of his presence is felt, and where his glory is seen.

 

References

Wallis, Clarrie (ed.). 2017. Stones Clouds Miles: A Richard Long Reader (London: Ridinghouse)


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