Category Archives: Lost

Richard Fleischner, Chain Link Maze (1978-79)

Chain Link Maze, 1978-79 (destroyed), Galvanized chain link fencing, 8′ x 61′ x 61′, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

“Adjacent to the University of Massachusetts football stadium in Amherst stands an 8-foot-tall chain-link fence encompassing an area some 60 feet square [by Richard Fleischner (1944-)]. …

The work sits, as do most of Fleischner’s projects, delicately on its terrain—it does not so much structure the natural, open site as it asserts itself discreetly, sensitively on the slightly rolling topography as a neat, geometrically concise object. Once through the corner entryway, we are confronted with a long corridor, the beginning of a path that winds, multicursal, toward a central inner chamber. Decisions must be made, and confusion is possible as we look through the wire grid at spaces beyond our reach. Both entry and path are ample, affording no sense of claustrophobia. One is struck instead by the open, hospitable feeling of the first corridors as they trace the perimeter. Comfortable strides are possible within the labyrinth; one can even turn or stop easily. It is not long before one of several decision points is reached—several paths can be taken but no great mistake can be made. It is as if the artist wants to coax us gently through this experience. There is no threat here but instead a fuller, more rewarding task of finding one’s own way. We are separated spatially but never visually from the outdoor environment as we can almost always see shimmering details through the various layers of mesh.

As one traverses the walkway, patterns of light reflect off the metallic walls, sometimes creating moiré-like surfaces, at others seeming almost flat and mat-colored. Fleischner has given us a visual labyrinth as well as a participatory maze. In no other maze are almost all the parts visible even as we are confined to a specific track. Depending on how many layers of chain link we gaze through (and this can vary from one to almost a dozen), details of the environment and other figures in the maze fade in and out of our sight. This seems then the perfect visual accompaniment to the fugitive spatial experiences we all undergo within a labyrinth.

In Chain Link Maze, Fleischner uses intuition to achieve his means—physical, optical and psychological experiences that depend on carefully measured spaces. In a broader context, a work like this directly engages some of the notions, particularly American, of the unbounded, natural environment. Fleischner works directly in the landscape, sometimes using concepts from rarified historical traditions. He has reasserted his ability visually to grasp the given landscape in a particularly American fashion, while simultaneously structuring situations within that landscape derived from conventions of garden design, architectural history and spatial perception. —Ronald J. Onorato ” [credit]

Jennie Savage, The Guide to Getting Lost (2014)

“The Guide To Getting Lost is a 30 minute audio guide by artist Jennie Savage. This audio walk invites you to become lost in your familiar geography and the fictional sonic landscape of the audio guide, where you will encounter street markets, shopping malls, beaches and birdsong recorded in enigmatic locations. The artist’s instructions to walk are the same for everyone, however each of us will interpret the directions, walk at a different pace, become lost in familiar territories and, of course, inhabit different landscapes and make choices about how closely to adhere to the directions; do you turn left into private property or choose to take the next familiar turning?” [credit]

The Loiterers Resistance Movement (2006-), Manchester, England


The LRM (Loiterers Resistance Movement) is a Manchester based collective of artists, activists and urban wanderers  interested in psychogeography, public space and the hidden stories of the city.

We can’t agree on what psychogeography means but we all like plants growing out of the side of buildings, looking at things from new angles, radical history, drinking tea and getting lost; having fun and feeling like a tourist in your home town. Gentrification, advertising and blandness make us sad. We believe there is magick in the mancunian rain.

Our city is wonderful and made for more than shopping. The streets belong to everyone and we want to reclaim them for play and revolutionary fun….

The LRM embark on psychogeographical drifts to decode the palimpsest of the streets, uncover hidden histories and discover the extraordinary in the mundane. We aim to nurture an awareness of everyday space, (re)engaging with, (re)mapping and (re)enchanting the city.

On the first Sunday of every month we go for a wander of some sort and we also organise occasional festivals, exhibitions, shows, spectacles, silliness and other random shenanigans. These range from giant cake maps to games of  CCTV Bingo. Information on forthcoming events is here. We were founded in 2006 by Morag Rose and 2016 we celebrated 10 years of creative mischief with Loitering With Intent: The Art and Politics of Walking at The Peoples History Museum.

Please walk with us, everyone is welcome. Our events are free and open to all: these are our streets and they are yours too.”

Bas Jan Ader, “In Search of the Miraculous (One Night in Los Angeles)” (1973)

Bas Jan Ader (1942-1975)

In Search of the Miraculous (One Night in Los Angeles) (1973) is a series of fourteen photographs [on paper with text in ink] documenting artist Bas Jan Ader’s walk into the LA night. It was the first part of a proposed three part project, which culminated in Ader being lost at sea attempting to undertake a solo crossing of the Atlantic in 1975. Both works engage with romantic notions of the sublime and reference German Romantic painting…”

“The often indistinct, occasionally banal images that constitute In Search of the Miraculous (One Night in Los Angeles) have a spectral, mysterious quality heightened by the shadow cast by later events; a man walks alone into the night, and eventually the sea. However, the pathos of the images is disturbed by the inclusion of pop lyrics and there is a tragic humor in much of Ader’s work that alludes to the silent cinema of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin.” [credit]


Rachel Reupke, “Infrastructure” 2002

video still of road in mountains

Rachel Reupke

video stills of road in mountains

Rachel Reupke


“Rachel Reupke’s video ‘Infrastructure’ sees a lone heroine, and a pair of heroic runaways, struggle on foot through what initially appears as a militarized landscape. The figures seem to desperately flee from the scene towards an airport, past a railway, next to a serpentine motorway that nestles inside a forested Alpine landscape, and a ferry port.

Reupke’s early work is structured as a journey in four parts, or four miniature journeys. The work is set in an Alpine landscape, in which the four sections reflect the four modern means of escape. Each landscape seems to insist on our need for speed and efficiency. But these modern means of travel avoid the need to experience the world directly.

The miniature human figures are contrasted to both the sublime landscape – a walker’s paradise – and to the sublime technological achievements of keeping humanity in perpetual motion by road, rail, sea, and air. In contrast to the commanding views experienced by, say, Caspar David Friedrich’s lone heroes, the figures here are pedestrians who seem fragile or lost. Their stories are all but lost amongst an endless flow of traffic.

We might speculatively imagine that, given their evident desperation, these figures are wilful escapees from the modern world and its obsession with vehicles. Have they been prisoners of technology and unilaterally elected to flee in order to return to feeling the weight of earth underfoot? Reupke leaves it to us to decide which has more romance: the lure of sleek vehicles skimming over seas and skies, or locomotion conducted solely through the power of our own muscles.”

Sophie Calle, Suite Vénitienne (1980)

“At the end of January 1980, on the streets of Paris, I followed a man whom I lost sight of a few minutes later in the crowd. That very evening, quite by chance, he was introduced to me at an opening. During the course of our conversation, he told me he was planning an imminent trip to Venice. I decided to follow him.” – Sophie Calle

photos of a man walking away from the viewer in the city

“Sophie Calle’s urban expeditions might be thought to recall Vito Acconci’s seminal performance work ‘Following’, made a decade earlier in which he tailed strangers chosen at random without their knowledge, up until they left public space for their homes or offices. In Calle’s work however, the relationship between the artist and their public is different. This is not merely because the expected gender roles, where men act as predators and women are vulnerable, are inverted. The artist’s motivations are unknowable, her ultimate goals opaque, and her behavior seemingly contradictory.

If we might imagine Acconci’s role implies that he is dangerous – is a stalker or assailant – Calle’s activities imply she is a kind of private detective or spy in pursuit of knowing more about a person than they do themselves. The presentation of her works as a kind of diary is intentionally alarming. We are meant to feel both a distance from her or repugnance at her behavior and, despite this, a simultaneous sympathy for or intimacy with her. Unlike a normal detective story, Calle’s work leaves us with both ‘who’ and ‘why’ left unresolved.” [credit]

photos and text installed in a gallery in a long line

“She met a man, Henri B., at a party. He said he was moving to Venice, so she moved to Venice and there, she began to follow him. Suite Vénitienne was the resulting book, first published in 1979 …Calle documents her attempts to follow her subject. She phoned hundreds of hotels, even visited the police station, to find out where he was staying, and persuaded a woman who lived opposite to let her photograph him from her window. Her photographs show the back of a raincoated man as he travels through the winding Venetian streets, a surreal and striking backdrop to her internalised mission. The very beauty of her surroundings has a filmic quality, intensifying the thriller-esque narrative of her project. Sometimes her means of following Henri B. are methodical – enlisting Venetian friends to make a phone call on her behalf – and sometimes arbitrary – following a delivery boy to see if he will lead her to him.” [credit]

a sheet of tiny photos and text

Credit: //


Conor McGarrigle, “WalkSpace: Beirut-Venice” (2012)


As part of THESTATEOFMIND for the Lebanese Pavilion at the Venice Biennale of Art 2011. WalkSpace: Beirut-Venice invites the participant on a drift through Venice guided from Beirut and in Beirut guided from Venice.

The work involves two simultaneous dérives (drifts) through the historic cities of Beirut and Venice, connected in real time to each other and to the world. Two interconnected groups of participants will walk in each city, each receiving instruction and guidance from the other as they wander, get lost and explore the psychogeographical ambience of the city.

The progress of each group will be broadcast as a live video stream via Bambuser, tracked in realtime on a map with Google latitude and tweeted with followers having the option of giving instructions via twitter.

The object is not to create a finite discrete work but to create a peripatetic relational space which can evolve and respond to the situation, the desires of its participants and serendipity, with the work being created through the actions of its participants. The space is furthermore overlaid with a hybrid, networked space connecting both cities and augmenting each space with the absent presence of the other.

Working from a changing set of basic instructions such as ‘describe what you see’, ‘follow that person’, ‘take the next left and then the first right’ or the more loaded ‘take me to the heart of the city’ the two groups will walk in tandem each guiding the other, walking in Beirut as if in Venice and Venice as if in Beirut.

The project draws on early dérives carried out by the Situationists in Amsterdam and Strasbourg which connected groups in different parts of the cities with walkie talkies and Ralph Rumney’s 1957 Psychogeographical Map of Venice.


We invite the audience to follow us in real time using Bambuser for video, Google latitude for locations and with geotagged tweets. We invited those not in Venice or Beirut to follow us virtually with the following services.

Latitude: We will be broadcasting out location in real time during the event using Google Latitude. To track the event first sign up for Latitude and send a request to share location to allegora.venice[AT], or alternatively email allegora.venice[AT] and we will share our location with you. You do not need to share your location to follow us.

Bambuser: To view our live video feed simply visit

Yoko Ono “Map Piece” (1962-64)

Yoko Ono’s “Map Piece” (1962) takes the form of a set of instructions. It reverses the normal order of things: First you make the map, then you actualize it on the landscape, and finally you uncover the place’s name.

score for a walk

When she returned to “Map Piece” two years later (1964), Yoko Ono inverted our entire idea of a map. We use maps to locate ourselves, but how would you “Draw a map to get lost”?

score for a walk

[Image Credits]


Dominique Blain “Missa” (1992)

shoes hanging from the ceiling

Dominique Blain “Missa” (1992)

100 pairs of army boots, mono-filament, metal grid, 700 x 700 cm

In the installation Missa, a hundred pairs of army boots suspended on nylon strings are arranged in a square grid. Raised slightly off the floor, the right-foot boots suggest the synchronised movement of military marching. The overall effect conjures up the destructive violence of political regimes that manipulate dehumanized troops like puppets. Although it was conceived in 1992, Missa continues to resonate wherever it is exhibited. This sensitive exploration of a military accessory, linked to individual soldiers but expressing a collective action, spans the history of wars and the atrocities they breed.

In her multidisciplinary practice, the Montréal artist Dominique Blain denounces the oppression that stems from relationships of power. She approaches historical references with restraint, using a few carefully chosen images and objects to arouse individual and collective memories. Leaving room for imagination, her socially engaged art gives viewers the leeway needed to reflect on the subject of war and totalitarianism. Blain’s work has been widely shown in Canada, the United States, Europe and Australia, notably at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art and in the 1992 Sydney Biennale. [credit]

A nearly deafening silence immediately strikes the viewer of Blain’s remarkably spartan installation. This soundlessness continues to resonate – and change – as one walks around her three-dimensional grid of strings and shoes, filling in its absences with haunting narratives and dark associations. Ominous connections between facelessness and force, blind obedience and inhuman strength, a sense of belonging and one of being utterly lost gain clarity as one contemplates her austere memorial to war and its – often abstract – if all-too-real consequences.

– David Pagel, Dominique Blain, Art Forum, 1993

many pairs of shoes

Dominique Blain “Missa” (1992-2012)

Nancy Holt, Trail Markers (1969)

photo of orange dot on a fence

Nancy Holt, Trail Markers (1969)

Dartmoor, England
Photo-series of 20 archival inkjet prints from original 126 format slides
18 x 18 in. (46 x 46 cm)
© Holt/Smithson Foundation, Licensed by VAGA at ARS, New York

Nancy Holt “Trail Markers” (1969) or, the walk from Wistman’s Wood

By Joy Sleeman
December, 2019
ISBN 978-1-952603-04-4

Trail Markers was photographed over a short stretch of publicly accessible footpath on the granite upland in the South-West of England known as Dartmoor. The path stretches between Two Bridges and Wistman’s Wood. The painted orange dots were a means to indicate the direction of the path for walkers and hikers. [Fig.1]

It was September 1969, and Holt and Robert Smithson were travelling through England and Wales in search of sites for sculptures—Smithson made several Mirror Displacement works during this trip. Their expedition was occasioned by Smithson’s inclusion in the London iteration of the international exhibition When Attitudes Become Form at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, which opened on August 27, 1969. They were also in search of some of the sources and inspirations of the picturesque (they had been reading William Gilpin’s writings, for example), and were curious about their own origins, as both had English ancestry.1 In the late eighteenth century Gilpin proposed ‘a new object of pursuit; that of examining the face of a country by the rules of picturesque beauty,’2 which he elaborated in several volumes of his published Observations. These acted as guidebooks in Gilpin’s day, and Holt and Smithson retraced some of his footsteps.

grid of framed photos of trail markers

Holt was the driver. The route to Two Bridges was challenging: narrow hilly lanes, in an unfamiliar land, driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road. Then, less than a mile from the public highway, the signage of the path drew her attention to the rocky terrain. In a conversation with the author in September 2013, Holt said:

It’s very hypnotic these little orange dots, and was interesting because they were very cleverly placed. Every time you got to a place where you might wonder where the next step might be there would be this orange dot. It’s structurally interesting, and gave wonderful continuity to my slides. It was an artwork that evolved, came up, I didn’t know I was going to be seeing it and then was seeing it and thought this was perfect. It was a gift. It was already there. My job was to get the perfect photo.3

Holt’s recollection casts the work as a kind of found sculpture or readymade.

Trail Markers was made in an era when walking had taken on new significance in art and culture. Artists such as Richard Long (b. 1945), a recent acquaintance with whom Holt and Smithson met up briefly on this trip, had made walking into art. And just a few weeks earlier a human walked for the first time on the rocky surface of an extra-terrestrial world in the first Apollo moon landing on July 20, 1969. On Dartmoor Holt encountered a place she found otherworldly but not entirely unfamiliar as it was somewhere she had visited imaginatively in stories from her childhood.

Most of the children’s books we grew up with were British. I would dream of little English towns and moors and wicked woods . . . The English landscape was already familiar, and yet the reality of experiencing those places had a visceral effect that has had a lasting effect on my work and thinking.4

Holt’s progress slowed as she journeyed across the moor with Smithson. They moved from a car drive, to a walk, to stopping in Wistman’s Wood, where the ancient and contorted oaks seem the remnant of a primeval world. In the wood Holt took color images that became the photo work, Wistman’s Wood (1969). The images include close-ups of the twisted oak trees and the boulder-littered environment of the interior of the wood. She also made the first of her buried poems, Buried Poem #1 (for Robert Smithson). In this distinct body of work a poem was interred at a site that evoked a particular person to Holt, to whom she gave a booklet with detailed information about the site and how to find it. This first Buried Poem was more impromptu than the later ones, and intended to be private and personal. Holt and Smithson photographed each other here, as they did at other locations on their trip through England and Wales. They were developing a collaborative vision that would manifest in different forms in the work of each artist.

The twenty inkjet prints that now constitute the artwork Trail Markers were put together by Holt in 2012. [Fig. 1] Prompted by renewed interest in her work, a major monograph, and several solo exhibitions, this juncture marked a new urgency in Holt’s activity, in relation both to her own work and that of Smithson’s.5 Soon after she would edit her footage of The Making of Amarillo Ramp,6 and combine previously unseen slides of New Jersey taken by Smithson for an exhibition which opened shortly after Holt’s death in February 2014.7 Such returns, where “pieces of past and present mesh”, have repeatedly recurred in Holt’s life.8 They are arrested moments belatedly realized in another time, flashing up as they threaten to disappear irretrievably.9 When Trail Markers was printed in 2012 the distinctive square format of Holt’s 126 format slides seemed prescient of twenty-first-century images posted on social media. But in their deliberateness, these photographs differ radically from many of the images captured today.

Back then, you really studied what you were going to shoot, you looked at it very carefully, you tried framing it this way and that way, you worked it out, and then you shot it. That’s what was happening on that trip, with the orange dots.10

Wistman’s Wood, the destination of the marked path, hardly features at all in the twenty photographs that make up Trail Markers, because the view back down to Two Bridges is the recurring one.11 The order of the images is not chronological, but directs a particular, deliberate, mode of attention. In the Smithson and Holt papers in the Archives of American Art there is a set of black and white photographic prints taken on the same path, most of which show views in the opposite direction towards Wistman’s Wood.12[Figs. 2 and 4] Although either artist could have taken them, the fact that these photographs are identified in the archive in connection with his Mirror Displacement works suggests that they are by Smithson. Smithson does not appear to have made a Mirror Displacement in this location. Rather, a kind of mirroring happens between the two artists’ photographs and in the structure of the walk itself.13 [Figs. 2 and 3, and 4 and 5] It is as if they walked to the wood in black and white and back in color, with some kind of transformative experience happening in the wood itself. With Holt’s Trail Markers we retrace our steps: from ‘a weird place’14 back to the car park.

It is forty years before the images re-emerge as Trail Markers. In these twenty images we see, on a stretch of English upland in 1969, a significant moment in the crystallization of a way of seeing the world.

About the Author

Joy Sleeman is Professor of Art History and Theory at the Slade School of Fine Art, UCL. She is a writer and curator whose research is focused on the histories of sculpture and landscape, especially 1960s and 1970s Land art. With Nicholas Alfrey and Ben Tufnell, she co-curated the exhibition Uncommon Ground: Land Art in Britain 1966-1979 (Arts Council Collection and Hayward Touring, London UK: 2013-14). Her publications include ‘Lawrence Alloway, Robert Smithson and Earthworks’, in L. Bradnock, C. J. Martin and R. Peabody (eds), Lawrence Alloway: Critic and Curator (Los Angeles US: Getty Publications, 2015) and Roelof Louw and British Sculpture since the 1960s (London UK: Ridinghouse, 2018).

  • 1For more on their trip to England and Wales see Simon Grant and Nancy Holt, ‘Nancy Holt and Robert Smithson in England, 1969: Notes from an ancient island’, Tate Etc., issue 25, summer 2012, pp. 97-103.
  • 2William Gilpin, Observations on the River Wye, and several parts of South Wales, &c. relative chiefly to picturesque beauty: made in the summer of the year 1770. London: Strand, 1800, p. 1.
  • 3Nancy Holt in telephone conversation with the author, September 21, 2013.
  • 4Nancy Holt in conversation with Ben Tufnell, Re-Visiting Land Art, a conference to coincide with the opening of Uncommon Ground: Land Art in Britain 1966-1979 at Southampton City Art Gallery and Nancy Holt & Robert Smithson: England and Wales 1969 at the John Hansard Gallery, in partnership with the Centre for Global Futures, Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton, UK; May 11, 2013.
  • 5The exhibition Nancy Holt: Sightlines, curated by Alena J. Williams toured to US venues in New York, Chicago, Massachusetts, Santa Fe, and Salt Lake City, as well as to Karlsruhe, Germany, between September 2010 and January 2013. Nancy Holt: Photoworks was at Haunch of Venison, London, UK June-August 2012; Nancy Holt: Land Art was at The Whitworth, Manchester, UK April-June 2013. Holt was made Chevalier of the Ordre des Artes et des Lettres by the French Government in 2012 and presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the International Sculpture Center in New York in 2013.
  • 6Holt edited The Making of Amarillo Ramp for the exhibition Robert Smithson in Texas at Dallas Museum of Art, November 24, 2013 – April 27, 2014. It uses footage Holt originally shot on 16mm film in 1973 // [accessed September 12, 2019].
  • 7Smithson’s slides were printed and shown in the exhibition Robert Smithson’s New Jersey, Curated by Phyllis Tuchman, Montclair Art Museum, February 23 – June 22, 2014.
  • 8Nancy Holt, ‘Wild Spot: notes on a few coincidences of art and life’ (1981), reprinted in Alena J. Williams, Nancy Holt Sightlines, Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press, 2011, pp. 106-107, p. 107.
  • 9See Walter Benjamin, ‘Theses on the Philosophy of History’, especially sections V and VI, in Illuminations, ed. Hannah Arendt, London: Fontana Press, 1992, p. 247.
  • 10Holt in a telephone conversation with the author, September 21, 2013. op.cit.
  • 11I am indebted to Nicholas Alfrey for this observation in Alfrey ‘Nancy Holt at Wistman’s Wood: painted rocks and lost inscriptions,’ unpublished manuscript, courtesy of the author, 2013.
  • 12Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt Papers, 1905 – 1987, bulk 1952 – 1987, Series 5, Project Files circa 1950s – 1982, Mirror Displacements, England, 1969, Box 4, Folder 36, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC.
  • 13Holt and Smithson owned two 126-format cameras in 1969. See Williams, Nancy Holt Sightlines, op. cit., p.36, note 4.
  • 14The phrase “a weird place” is from the description of Wistman’s Wood in Eric Newby and Diana Petry, Wonders of Britain, Norwich: Hodder and Stoughton, 1968, p. 13, a book Holt and Smithson owned.