Skip to main content Start of main content

A–Z West in Context: A Spatial Analysis

Photograph: Andrea Zittel. Courtesy the artist and Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York
Steve Rowell surveys the Southern Californian landscape, whose forms of inhabitation Andrea Zittel has taken as her subject. When viewed from outer space, the California desert bleeds eastward, into a great expanse, distinct from a mostly verdant continent. It forms a pattern — striated with alternating streaks of browns and greys, dotted with random specks of white — that begins at a sharp point north of Los Angeles; fades out before it reaches Canada to the north, central Mexico and Texas to the south and southeast; and abruptly stops about a third of the way across the country, at the Rocky Mountains. The definitive topography here is Basin and Range: a repeating landscape of mountains and valleys, a visual cadence broken by occasional dry lakebeds and spring-fed oases. Strung across this exposed, stratified landscape — geologic time, manifested — is evidence of human interaction, our rapidly increasing timescale.