Sunlight in Sun Tunnels

Nancy Holt
July 14, 1976
Sun Tunnels, Lucin, Utah
Edition of archival Inkjet prints
50 x 61 1/2 in. (127 x 156 cm)

These thirty photographs document the sun’s movement from inside one of the tunnels, every half hour from 6:30 am to 9:00 pm on July 14, 1976. Viewed all together, the series is a work of aesthetic splendor, yet Holt is deliberate in her assertion that “photographs of the work are memory traces, not art. At best, they are inducements for people to go and see the actual work.” Regardless of their artistic intent, Holt’s photographs play a significant role in the investigative process: before, during, and after the construction of ​Sun Tunnels.


Writings by Nancy Holt

Sun Tunnels

Nancy Holt

Sun Tunnels, 1973–76, is built on forty acres, which I bought in 1974 specifically as a site for the work. The land is in the Great Basin Desert in northwestern Utah, about four miles southeast of Lucin (pop. ten) and nine miles east of the Nevada border.

Sun Tunnels marks the yearly extreme positions of the sun on the horizon—the tunnels being aligned with the angles of the rising and setting of the sun on the days of the solstices, around June 21st and December 21st. On those days the sun is centered through the tunnels, and is nearly center for about ten days before and after the solstices.

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