Tectonic Sculpture

Photos: Avraham Hay

If in Sculpture Field Orion began developing sculpture that connects with expanse and land, in Tectonic Sculpture this concept is the point of departure that increasingly intensifies. The result is sculpture that focuses on the inner geophysical forces that shape the Earth’s crust, and views them as sculptural elements in and of themselves. ‘Plate tectonics is sculpture,’ Orion wrote with reference to the faulting, folding, and movement of mountains that form and change over many thousands of years. In the Negev and the Himalayas he created sculptures comprising stone lines, positioning rocks, and making grooves in the ground, which were meant to join and emphasize the sculpture made by natural forces, and thus create loci for human observation and connection with this universal-cosmic making. ‘It is important that the spectator understands that we are building something human, geometric, that allows him to technically gather height through something solid that is built from rocks, which are themselves a billion years old. Launching his consciousness simultaneously cognitively and spiritually, to the extreme, in escalation, in acceleration, to a scale far, far beyond the everyday. Beyond our homeland, beyond the Earth, to ranges that are in effect our astro-homeland, our universe. This is meta-geo-sculpture. And beyond it, the silence.

Stone Lines, Sde Zin and Har Ardon, 1980-81

The stone lines Orion created in Sde Zin and Har Ardon direct the spectator to the edges of the craggy landscape, and function as what he defines as “launch pads for consciousness”. In Sde Zin rocks and small stones combine into a single line extending across 800 meters. The path ends at the edge of the rock face, and focuses the spectator’s gaze on the peak of Hod Akev. In Har Ardon the stone line is more subdued and dense, and it too ends at the edge of the rock face. Orion used local stones and transformed sculpture into an inseparable and almost indistinguishable part of the landscape.


Towards the Rift, 1983

Orion was particularly attracted to local phenomena created as a result of the Great Rift Valley. In order to deepen the presence of this geological rift, he created a sculpture in Tel Hai Valley that flows parallel to the rift, in which he installed huge rocks in the middle of the riverbed, and even left the drag marks in the soil as indicators of the land’s drifting.


Towards Annapurna, 1981-1996

One of Orion’s biggest and most familiar projects was done in the Annapurna Valley in Nepal, where he created a staircase from slabs of slate. Like his desert sculptures, the sculpture in Annapurna is what he defines as a “launch pad for consciousness”. The staircase sculpture faces the highest pinnacles of the Himalayas, one of the highest points on Earth, and is designed to evoke in human consciousness a moment of coming face to face with human minuteness in relation to the universe.

Construction of the sculpture in the Annapurna Valley was carried out by Israeli expeditions alongside local porters and sculptors. Four expeditions took part in the construction over more than a decade: the first in 1981, and then for restoration and documentation in 1982, 1993, and 1996.