Opinion

Artist to Bury an Airplane Underground and Call It Art

A diagram of the buried plane (via Curbed LA)

LOS ANGELES — I’ve always been fascinated by Walter de Maria’s The Vertical Earth Kilometer. Over in the artist’s playground of Kassel, Germany, de Maria buried a kilometer-long, five-centimeter-round brass pole, its top is flush with the ground. Something about the conceptual nature of a work that is more or less inaccessible but at the same time very present resonates with me.

So Christoph Buchel’s underground plane proposal in Kern County (a few hours north of Los Angeles) caught my eye. The project, called “Terminal,” was just approved to move forward, and Buchel will be financing it all himself, including purchasing the hulking 727 and the necessary equipment and expertise to place it underground. But unlike de Maria’s piece, the plane will be visible — to a select few. Here’s what Curbed LA had to say about it:

The plane will be connected to parking about 420 feet away by a tunnel, which will start ten feet below grade and slop down to 25 feet below grade. The idea is to make the land look as untouched as possible and there will be no external structures or signs to indicate that there’s a giant airplane buried there.

It’s an incredibly privileged piece, as only 780 people a year will see it. As artist Man Bartlett tweeted, maybe it doesn’t matter to a man who can afford to finance such a project by himself. But then again, what percent of the world will ever see the inside of a plane in their life, whether below ground or above?

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