Exhibiting reverence for the story of Las Vegas, the beauty of the vast Western landscape and its ancient geological presence, “Seven Magic Mountains” arrived blazing brighter than an electric rainbow and with a name akin to an amusement-park ride, resonating wildly with those pulling off of Interstate 15 for a closer look.
Cleverly critiquing Las Vegas-style simulacra 10 miles outside the city near Jean Dry Lake, the art installation is nearly five years in the making, with producers and others involved in the project navigating miles of red tape to finally debut it this month. The primitive totems of stacked boulders covered in Day-Glo paint hit like a hallucination, because in what world does a Bedrock-style contemporary monument just pop up in the desert?
Quick answer: the 21st-century world of land-based art. Co-produced by Reno’s Nevada Museum of Art and New York City’s Art Production Fund, Ugo Rondinone’s “Seven Magic Mountains” carries on the tradition of monumental works placed in the landscape, made from natural materials. The site-specific installation exists in the way that Las Vegas does: real and not real, magical and disarming, to some an eyesore, to others a profound statement speaking as vividly in daylight as at dusk.