500 Failures. Probably the largest earthwork I've ever done in scale. Over the course of a year, 500 small balls were created, all by hand, mostly from cement, sand, marble and terracotta. These balls, called failures in the sense of a work failing - falling inward, compressing and perfecting itself - were numbered from 1492 to 1992 and placed (in sequence) along side of and in several miles of a small stream running near the 500-year old stone farmhouse we were squatting in. This stream ran into the Sieve River which, after passing through Il Mugello, the birthplace of the Renaissance, flowed into the Arno River and then through Firenze (Florence), allowing the objects to send messages into the heart of the Renaissance.

500 Failures, 1992, 500 hand formed balls, 6cm-20cm each, cement, marble.

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1688 1690 1727 1731 1733 1735 1737 1763 1769 1872 1873 1876 1881 1884 1896 1900 1924 1956 group1 group2 group3


A contour model showing placement on Monte Morello (detail). Monte Morello is a mountain just to the north of Firenze and from the large cross on its summit it is possible to look down on the Duomo and central Firenze. Our little spot in Pescina was on the northeastern slopes of this peak, in the valley shown on the model.

contour1 contour2


After several winter seasons, many of the "failures" had been washed down the stream. Some were reported to have been found as far as 5 miles away. A number remained in the stream bed and I had the opportunity to return and photograph them in the summer of 1994.

500 Failures, (2 years later):

failure1 failure2 failure3 failure4 failure5


Before the placement of 500 Failures and when I had quite a number of them already made, I was invited to participate in a local art exhibition, Arte della Comune di Vaglia, in Bivigliano. I decided to do a placement of 365 of the failures in a small room covered in a sandpainting map of the local area, Il Mugello

365 Failures, balls of cement, marble and stone of various dimensions, from hand-sized to tiny marble-sized, laid-out on sand and tinted sand. As realized for the exhibition Arte della Comune di Vaglia, 1992, Bivigliano, FI Italy.

365-1 365-2 365-3 365-5 365-6 365-4


Miscellaneous Failures (Italy).

115 120 117 122 124 128 1502 154


Handcarved Limestone Failures done in Detroit at the end of 1992:

182 184 185 186


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