Richard Serra’s “Shift” on Unstable Ground

As MOCA’s latest exhibit Ends of the Earth (on display through 09.03.12) brings some much needed attention to land art and its role worldwide, it’s hard not to think of Richard Serra’s contributions to the movement (and his penchant for arrogant interviews, but that’s another story).

One of Serra’s sculptures featured in Ends of the Earth, Shift (1972), now lands smack in the middle of a land battle in Toronto. Shift’s six concrete forms zigzag over several acres of fields there, where they’ve been largely undisturbed in the past four decades.

One of Serra’s early works, the installation was commissioned by Toronto collector, Roger Davidson, on land owned by his family. That land, however, now belongs to Hickory Hill Investments, a Toronto-based developer. Hickory Hill has big plans for the area, including housing and commercial developments–none of which give particular attention to Serra’s work.

In an attempt to save “Shift,” a hearing began on Monday to designate it as a heritage property. Should the petition fail, Hickory Hill insists it won’t harm or destroy the sculpture. But the developer also says it won’t provide any upkeep or needed restoration in the years to come.

Read more about Shift and its uncertain future here

Kit Warchol