Von Nature’s Nation zu ‚Waste’s Nation’ und darüber hinaus

Mythenkorrektur und Medienreflexion in The Lost Frontier von Llyn Foulkes

  • Ralf Michael Fischer (Autor/in)


The aim of this essay is to reveal the different layers of reference to the concept of the North-American frontier in the major work The Lost Frontier (1997–2005) by West Coast artist Llyn Foulkes (*1934). Therefore, the study begins with a close analysis of his work, which depicts Los Angeles surrounded by mountains of waste, including a self-portrait of the artist. In a next step, the study will outline the artist’s preferred aesthetic approaches, and discuss crucial landscape paintings of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that depict the development of Nature’s Nation to ‚Technology’s Nation’. These works can be considered as a line of tradition leading up to the rubbish scenery of The Lost Frontier, which confronts the beholder with the destructive consequences of the frontier and Manifest Destiny concepts. Against this backdrop, the argumentation shows, how Llyn Foulkes establishes a negative understanding of the frontier in order to criticize the contemporary American consumer society and entertainment industry for pursuing aims that corrupt American values of freedom, individuality, and democracy. At the same time, the artist presents a positive and updated understanding of the frontier without the contradictions and racist elements of the original concept. His intention is to motivate beholders to look back at the above-mentioned values in order to find back to a less destructive way of life beyond an affluent society. In a final step the study will discuss in which way intermedia references in The Lost Frontier suspend Foulkes’s engaged ‚message’, so that the whole problematic concept of the frontier with all its contradictions will be disputable. A brief epilogue shows to what extent the presentation of The Lost Frontier at the dOCUMENTA (13) in 2012 helped to transcend Foulkes’ patriotic vision towards a global scale.