institution: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
category: Exhibition and Collection Extension
Landfall, the third season of SFMOMA’s podcast Raw Material, takes listeners on a California road trip—from the desert to the shore, underground and into outer space—to explore connections between humans, art, and the land. Hosts Jessica Placzek and Maddie Gobbo travel to surprising sites and meet artists, farmers, teachers, and other remarkable guests across the state. At the heart of this season are timely and timeless questions: How do we experience and treat the land? How does our environment shape us?
“Mounds, Jetties, Trails,” the first episode of the season, begins the road trip in San Francisco, just six miles from SFMOMA. At the Land’s End Labyrinth, the forceful winds, the colors of the rocks, and the meditative experience of walking the path reveal the indivisible connections between a work of art and its environment. The episode expands to introduce the pioneers of the Land Art movement and their monumental interventions in the landscape. A Land Art expert describes her journey to Spiral Jetty. Bureau of Land Management rangers take our hosts on a bumpy ride to the El Mirage dry lakebed, where artists dug trenches and drew with motorcycles.
Episode three seeks to unearth the often unheralded women who engaged the land through art. Judy Chicago discusses the challenges and triumphs of being a female artist, and reflects on how the Californian landscape gave her the space and freedom to create. Her Atmospheres series—site-specific performances that used colored smokes to “soften” the landscape—gives this episode its name, and also serves to reveal how women artists were often thoughtful about the ecological impacts of Land Art.
Each episode includes a work of speculative fiction, written by Gobbo, that extends the themes explored beyond the real and into the realm of possibility and imagination. In episode three’s hypnotic dreamscape, smoke wafts over a city, thick enough to obscure buildings and climb like a staircase to the sky. At the end of episode five, “No Contradictions,” which brought Maddie and Jessica to the ultimate road trip destination—Disneyland—listeners hop aboard a different kind of ride: one that takes them out of the earth’s atmosphere and through a wormhole, playing up the liminality between real and imagined that is cultivated by Disney Imagineers through thoughtful, meticulous design. The final fiction piece of the season invents a road trip game that asks listeners/players to look more closely at the world that passes by their windows, to consider what they are seeing, who it was made for/by, and why. By the end of season three, Landfall, listeners have not just a unique road trip itinerary, but also the tools to engage art and the landscape wherever their journey takes them.