Jim Supanick’s article is an in-depth investigation of eteam’s International Airport Montello(2006–present), an absurdist undertaking based on the template of the international airport, staged in the remote desert town of Montello, Nevada. With minimal means, the artists have broadly delineated the skeletal presence of a familiar form, resembling both an under-funded capital development project and a ghost town of a type that looms large within the popular imagination. Those two images—of shaky future and past disappointment—help define the broad mythological scope of the American West that the project addresses. eteam’s work equally invites additional cultural references: nineteenth-century railroads leading out to the subdivided parcels of Southern California, military and aerospace proving grounds of the surrounding area, architectural follies of European gardens, South Sea Island cargo cults. For others, the project’s sheer scale and bareness of definition extend Harold Rosenberg’s old notion of the “anxious object” to new dimensions. Supanick’s article focuses on the clash of cultures, beliefs, and frames of reference that eteam’s “airport” sets in motion for both locals and visitors to the site.
Jim Supanick teaches in the art department at the City College of New York. He has published widely on contemporary art, media, and film in such venues as Millennium Film Journal, the Wire, Film Comment, and the Brooklyn Rail, and has written essays for numerous exhibition catalogues and for recent DVD releases including On a Phantom Limb by Nancy Andrews and The Observers by Jacqueline Goss.