Allan McCollum

(USA, 1944)

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For inSITE2000 New York-based artist Allan McCollum created a multivenue project involving the participation of residents and institutions from the Imperial Valley and Valle de Mexicali region to the east of San Diego. Interested in participating in the establishment of a cultural identity and iconography for the region, McCollum was initially drawn to the area through learning about sand spikes, a unique natural geological concretion found in very few locations, among them at the foot of Mt. Signal/El Centinela. With the mountain straddling the US-Mexico border, it was already established as a physical landmark and identifying symbol for locals on either side of the border. During extended residency periods McCollum collected artworks by local residents depicting the mountain and performed extensive research on the sand spike and Mt. Signal, as well as the local culture surrounding both.

With his project Signs of Mount Signal/Signos del Cerro del centinela, McCollum brought together the work of thirty-seven local artists showcasing the mountain and forged a collaboration among four regional institutions. The project included over one thousand cast replicas of the sand spike and Mt. Signal, a sixteen-foot sand spike sculpture, a large-scale model of Mt. Signal, collected historical information about the area, local artwork depicting the mountain, as well as twelve booklets produced by the artist on the subject of concretions. The project was shown in parts at the Museo de la Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, Mexicali, the Steppling Art Gallery at San Diego State University in Calexico, the Imperial County Historical Society Pioneers’ Museum, and combined at the University Art Gallery at San Diego State University.

Curators: Susan Buck-Morss, Ivo Mesquita, Osvaldo Sánchez, and Sally Yard
Venue: Pioneers’ Park Museum, Imperial County