7 of the World’s Most Remote Art Installations

In a world of blockbuster art shows and museum selfies, there is a need for the kind of art experience that connects the viewer more authentically with a place. These seven artworks—some by the very same artists who draw crowds to those headline exhibitions—may be tricky to get to, but there is an experience gained in the journey that you can’t quite get from a trip to your local museum.


One of Walter de Maria’s most significant pieces of land art, The Lightning Field, is also shrouded in mystery. The work’s exact location, somewhere in the high desert of western New Mexico, is a tightly held secret. To get there, you have to make a reservation through the Dia Art Foundation, which maintains the site. In the tiny town of Quemado (about three hours from Albuquerque) you’ll be met by an employee who drives you 45 minutes to the site, where a simple cabin is set up to spend the night. No electronic devices are allowed, so that means no Instagramming. Visitors are instead encouraged to fully connect with the experience and to spend as much time as possible at the epic, shifting installation—particularly around sunset and sunrise, when golden light briefly reflects off the grid of 400 polished stainless steel poles.


By Amanda Slater from Coventry, West Midlands, UK ("Inside Australia". Lake Ballard. WA) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Antony Gormley's work is committed to the exploration of the body and place and is usually based on metal casts of his own body. For Inside Australia, which is made up of 51 sculptures spread across the flat surface of (the usually dry) Lake Ballard, Gormley instead scanned the figures of residents of Menzies, the closest town to the installation site, 30 miles away. Menzies is about a two-hour drive from Kalgoorlie-Boulder, and 500 miles from Perth, however it’s common for the road to be closed following heavy rainfall. Visitors driving to the site also have to look out for “wandering livestock and wildlife.” Once there, you can camp freely at Lake Ballard, but must bring your own water and firewood.


Lars Vilks is no stranger to controversy; the Swedish artist has had a bounty on his head since he depicted Muhammad as a dog in 2007 and survived an assassination attempt in Copenhagen last year, which left one person dead. Before all this, Vilks declared the founding of the micronation of Ladonia in southern Sweden’s Kullaberg Nature Reserve to house his two huge unsanctioned art pieces, which the local council had threatened with removal. While becoming a citizen of Ladonia is easy (you just fill out an application form), visiting the two sculptures of Nimis, made from salvaged driftwood, and the stone Arx is a little trickier. From the Himmelstorps Hembygdsgård, a preserved 19th-century farmhouse inside the reserve, you follow occasional yellow arrows and Ns painted on trees, winding through the woods and up some steep climbs for around 30 minutes … or more if you get lost.


Veronique Dupont/AFP/Getty Images

This incongruous Prada storefront seen along a dusty road 26 miles northwest of Marfa (itself a three-hour drive from the nearest airport in El Paso) is, in fact, an art installation by Elmgreen & Dragset. The piece was installed in 2005 and, even though Prada licensed the use of its trademark and provided items from its collection, is generally interpreted as a critique of consumerism. Admittedly, it’s difficult to really use the term "remote" in reference to an installation that has been Instagrammed infinite times and Tumbl’d by Beyoncé, but getting to Prada Marfa requires just enough effort to make it count.


In the last 15 or so years, the sleepy island of Naoshima in Japan's Seto Inland Sea has reinvented itself from a declining fishing community to a center for contemporary art and home to the Setouchi Triennale. Installations around the island include old homes that have been converted into art sites after being abandoned by the disappearing local population, a public bathhouse decorated with kitschy objects culled from the designer's world travels, and two large pumpkin sculptures by the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. From Uno, in Okayama Prefecture, around two hours by train from Osaka, you can take a slow ferry across the sea to Naoshima, whose slow pace seems a world away from Japan’s frenetic mega cities. When you arrive, you can rent a bicycle to explore the installations dotted around the island.


Pierre-Henry Deshayes/AFP/Getty Images

It’s a long, lonely trek into the Norwegian Arctic, to the very end of the pan-European road E75, to find this piece. It is a collaboration between the Swiss architect Peter Zumthor and French-American sculptor Louise Bourgeois (in what would be her final work) and memorializes the 91 women, girls, and Sámi men burned at the stake, on suspicion of witchcraft, 300 years ago. The breathtaking piece comprises a 410-foot-long Memorial Hall, at the end of which a steel-and-smoked-glass room, named The Damned, The Possessed and The Beloved, houses a circle of mirrors reflecting a flaming steel chair.


Spiral Jetty, a 1500-foot-long and 15-foot-wide coil that juts out from Utah’s Great Salt Lake, was inscribed into art infamy when, just two years after it was created, it disappeared underwater. A year later its creator, Robert Smithson, died at the age of 35, in a helicopter crash.

The water levels at Great Salt Lake had been unusually low in 1970 when Smithson created the work and so it vanished when they returned to their normal levels. Spiral Jetty reappeared in 1999, covered in salt crystals and its black color now improbably shining white. The piece still vanishes from time to time. Dia Art Foundation, which manages the site, states that it is visible when water levels are below approximately 4195 feet and advises bringing water, food, and waterproof boots, along with weather-appropriate clothing, when making the two-and-a-half-hour trip from Salt Lake City.

YouTube/Great Big Story
See the Secret Paintings Hidden in Gilded Books
YouTube/Great Big Story
YouTube/Great Big Story

The art of vanishing fore-edge painting—hiding delicate images on the front edges of gilded books—dates back to about 1660. Today, British artist Martin Frost is the last remaining commercial fore-edge painter in the world. He works primarily on antique books, crafting scenes from nature, domestic life, mythology, and Harry Potter. Great Big Story recently caught up with him in his studio to learn more about his disappearing art. Learn more in the video below.

Mathew Tucciarone
Candytopia, the Interactive Art Installation Made of Sweet Treats, Is Coming to New York City
Mathew Tucciarone
Mathew Tucciarone

A colorful exhibition is sharing some eye candy—and actual candy—with visitors. The sweet art pop-up, called Candytopia, is heading to New York City this summer following successful stints in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, Gothamist reports.

Candytopia feels a little like Willy Wonka’s chocolate room. More than a dozen rooms with psychedelic backdrops will be on view, as well as candy-inspired interpretations of famous artworks such as Mona Lisa and The Thinker. The installation is the brainchild of Jackie Sorkin, the star of TLC’s Candy Queen.

Many of the art installations are made from actual candy, but unlike Wonka’s lickable wallpaper, visitors will have to keep their hands and tongues to themselves. Instead, guests will be given samples of various sweet treats like gummies, chocolates, and “nostalgic favorites.”

Forbes named Candytopia one of the best pop-up museums to visit in 2018. New York City seems the perfect place for the exhibit, having formerly hosted other food-inspired pop-ups like the Museum of Pizza and the Museum of Ice Cream.

Candytopia will debut in New York City on August 15 at Penn Plaza at 145 West 32nd Street. Tickets must be purchased in advance, and they can be ordered on Candytopia’s website. Private events and birthday parties can also be arranged.

Keep scrolling to see some more installations from Candytopia.

A wing of the Candytopia exhibit
Mathew Tucciarone

An Egyptian-inspired statue made of candy
Mathew Tucciarone

A candy version of the Mona Lisa
Mathew Tucciarone

A shark statue
Mathew Tucciarone

[h/t Gothamist]


More from mental floss studios