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Betty Beaumont, "Cable Piece", 1977.
Betty Beaumont, "Cable Piece",an iron ring formed of 4,000 feet of cable measuring 100 feet in diameter. Macomb, Illinois, 1977.

Betty Beaumont

Cable Piece

4,000 feet of iron cable

Macomb, Illinois

Cable Piece, 1977, a burial transformation work, is the fifth in a series of time-based landscape projects. Amid immense vistas of the richest, most economically valued farmland in America, adjacent ravaged strip-mined landscapes, near Native American burial mounds and the Mississippi River, there is a gap. A small creek flows through an 80-acre tract of rolling land where a few cattle graze. This is the site of Cable Piece. To the north, in a far west suburb of Chicago, at FermiLab, particles are accelerated to near the speed of light.

I gained access to surplus one-inch-diameter steel cable, the sort used for the San Francisco and Brooklyn Bridges, the excess of our military industrial society. Measuring 100-feet in diameter over the rolling landscape, Cable Piece is an iron ring formed of 4,000 feet of wire rope. Because of the work's scale, one sees a fragment of the circle, a continuous arc, a 12-inch-wide footpath. There is a path that seems to appear from nowhere. Then it disappears into the landscape. As you walk in one direction or another, the path appears before you and disappears behind you, appears and disappears. This circular foot dance evokes a persistent longing within the viewer.

Simultaneously, this performative "re-writing," a kind of repetition as insistence by the audience, affects Cable Piece's scripted entropic transformation. The work is slowly burying itself. The strands of cable have begun to deteriorate. The effect of the iron content on grass growth over the years is being monitored through infrared photography. As a circle goes on forever, Cable Piece will become a lush growth ring, a kind of formal garden. This quiet monument in Macomb, Illinois, acknowledges the passing of an industrial age while contributing to an ecological era.

-Betty Beaumont.

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