Aurora Tang will research contemporary cultural interpretations of America’s desiccating inner margin—the geographic area known as the Bonneville Basin. The Bonneville Basin, covering much of northwest Utah and parts of eastern Nevada and southern Idaho, has seen singular events and activities over time, including its ongoing transformation from inland sea to salt flats and shrinking saline lake over thousands of years, to its role in the development of the first atomic bomb in World War II, and the creation of visionary earthworks in the 1960s and 1970s. The basin is a remarkable crucible of extreme ideas, activities, and conditions, tested and distilled, with lessons learned here resonating across the nation and the world.
This project aims to peel back the layers of the Bonneville Basin’s surface, revealing physical remnants of the ancient lake’s deep past, recent histories, current state, and towards premonitions of its possible futures. Tang will examine the cultural products and byproducts of this landscape’s morphology, exploring themes of survival, preparedness, isolation, desiccation, inundation, salinification, disintegration, dissipation, and resilience. Particular attention will be given to underrepresented and new narratives, voices, and developments in contemporary art and cultural practices in and about the region. This fellowship will also involve convening artists, architects, curators, and educators who work in the field, to discuss the shifting nature of on-site fieldwork, education, and exhibition.
This research is in preparation for a new exhibition program at the CLUI’s complex in Wendover, Utah, at the former shores of ancient Lake Bonneville.