Artspirational Sandcastle Time

by Whitney Kimball on July 26, 2013 Sandcastles


Ever since Creative Time rang in its first annual artist sandcastle competition last year, we haven’t been able to get enough of them. It was everything we could have hoped for: Tom Sachs dug a hole to China. Marie Lorenz made a sand colosseum. AFC faves Jen Catron & Paul Outlaw constructed a human fountain sandcastle.

But what will artists make this year?  Participants David Brooks, Sebastian Errazuriz, Ghost of a Dream (Lauren Was & Adam Eckstrom), Jamie Isenstein, Natalie Jeremijenko, Esperanza Mayobre, Rachel Owens, Duke Riley, Christopher Robbins, and Marc Andre Robinson will compete in just a few short weeks. We can’t wait that long.

We’ve put together a list of land-works we’d like to see in the form of a sandcastle. Participants don’t have to pick up our ideas, but they should at least consider a few of them if they want to win. Art F City has its finger on the pulse.

Ana Mendieta. Untitled, "Silueta Series," sand and red pigment. 1976. Image courtesy of

1. Ana Mendieta, Untitled, Silueta Series, 1976

Many attribute Ana Mendieta’s enigmatic Silueta series—earth imprints of her body, across Mexico and the US—to the artist’s political exile from Cuba, and a feminist reclamation of goddess imagery. The coloration was achieved with red pigment;  in a pinch, you could also use Kool-Aid, or blood. #sandcastlewin

Andy Goldsworthy, "Bones/Sand/Ball/Tide" 2008. Image courtesy of

2. Andy Goldsworthy, Bones/Sand/Ball/Tide, 2008

No sandcastle listicle would be complete without the world’s best-known earth artist Andy Goldsworthy. His temporal work Bones/Sand/Ball/Tide utilizes the fleeting nature of sand to remind us of how mortality beats against us, like a merciless tide. #conceptualsandcastle #forthewin

“You,” Urs Fischer. 2007 Image courtesy of

3. Urs Fischer, You, 2007

Back in 2007, Jerry Saltz observed that Urs Fisher’s “You” carved a giant hole, inside of the larger hole that is the New York art world. He wrote:

You is like a nest, a bunker, or Caspar David Friedrich’s The Wreck of Hope, his painting of a ship smashed to pieces in a sea of ice. It is a perfect metaphor for a revved-up art world as it is stripped down by the market.

And six years later, we still have a long fucking way to dig.

"Spiral Jetty," Robert Smithson 1970. Image courtesy of

4. Robert Smithson, Spiral Jetty, 1970

Few New Yorkers will ever get to walk Spiral Jetty, and that’s a shame. So if you can get past the Rockaway beach patrol for some coastal building, then go for it. No, you won’t be able to replicate the primordial wind and salt cycles of Utah’s Great Salt Lake, for which Smithson created this site-specific work. That’s okay—because sandcastles are about resourcefulness.

"The Umbrellas," 1984-91, Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Image courtesy of the artists.

5. Christo and Jeanne-Claude, The Umbrellas, 1991

Creative Time allowed several of last year’s contenders to bring scaffolding for their sandcastles, so we’re betting beach umbrellas are fair game. The Umbrellas have been mired in tragedy since Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s 1991 outdoor installation killed one woman and injured several visitors. Perhaps, with the right precautions, it could be time for a tentative comeback.

Buckets, Jessica Stockholder (we think). Image courtesy

6. Buckets, Jessica Stockholder

Don’t let sand bog you down. The Internet attributes these buckets to Jessica Stockholder. But really, they could be anyone’s buckets.


7. Jack Goldstein, Burial Piece, 1972

Last year, Ryan McNamara’s sandcastle buried two performers under wooden boards and several feet of sand. Creative Time had to judge his first because, The New York Times observed, it “seemed to be rapidly endangering the health of his volunteers.”

That work may have precedents in Jack Goldstein, who, while in grad school, buried himself in a wooden box in the corner of the CalArts parking lot. Goldstein used a breathing tube to survive, and a heart monitor to let his friends know he was still alive.

"Moonrise" series, 2006 Ugo Rondinone. Image courtesy of Matthew Marks Gallery

8.Ugo Rondinone, Moonrise series, 2006

Again, not sand, but with his nine-foot-tall Moonrise heads, Ugo Rondinone proves that it just takes some clay-on-styrofoam to make surrealist magic. We think these would make a fantastic addition to Rockaway Beach as they gaze out over the Atlantic, to the Jersey shoreline on the horizon.

Hans Haacke, "Monument to Beach Pollution." 1970 Image courtesy of

9. Hans Haacke, Monument to Beach Pollution. 1970

Remember to clean up!

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: