Sunday, May 27, 2012

Readymade for the Trail

It's no secret that Carbonate Mountain plays a huge role in early spring training for Sun Valley-area trail runners.  In case there were any question of its storied place in our hearts and running schedules, I wrote a paean to it a couple years back on these very (digital) pages (link).

A better kept secret is my love for the old, and now empty, water reservoir that rests just above the Carbonate trailhead.  Though I've yet to verify its full history, it's believed the reservoir held the town's water supply during its boomtown mining days.  These days, it's the receptacle for semi-sanctioned street art, and I love how its broad reach of colors punctuates the sage covered hills stitched with dusty trail.

It made a brief appearance in a photo on Run Junkie about a year ago, and Stacy of the Wilderness Running Company, commented that it reminded him of Wallace Stevens' poem: "Anecdote of the Jar."  A couple lines:
The wilderness rose up to it,
And sprawled around, no longer wild.
It's certainly an apt and sage allusion, but Stevens' vision seems a bit too fatalistic to relate fully to the old reservoir, at least how I experience it. For me, the structure brings more to mind Duchamp's "readymades" - the urinal turned upside down and labeled "fountain;" the bicycle fork and wheel attached to the top of a stool; an every day item found, tweaked through purpose into something else, and in that transformation, art and commentary.

The graffitied reservoir does much this same thing, maybe without the grand vision of Duchamp but surely with similar result.  So stark is its contrast with its surroundings, both immediate and valley-wide, that one is forced to question what it is one is seeing, and in that, develop a narrative for the past, present, and future. That is certainly one definition of art.

And however artlessly I'm running the Carbonate trail - no matter how tired, how cold, or how wet - I always take a solid glance at the reservoir as the switchback grazes its western edge.  Both of us out of place but both transformed by that very place we are.


Stacy said...

I really like these photos.

You're right, it definitely evokes a similar reaction to a readymade. Much more aggressive in its contrast with its surroundings than a mere jar.

Also great to see you're getting on a nice roll with your running. Impressive time trial in your last post!

Hank Dart said...

Thanks, Stacy. Not sure it's more powerful than Stevens' Jar, but it is larger. Hope all's well and that you're getting some miles in. Cheers.