Two-person exhibition, Gambel's Ark, by Lucas Hadjam & Andrew Rutherdale at Lake Powell in Utah.
Artists: Lucas Hadjam & Andrew Rutherdale
Curated by Ben Sang
Date: June 30, 2021
Final Hot Desert, Lake Powell, Utah, USA
30,000 - 13,000 ya - The five trillion tons of water in Lake Bonneville cover the enormous
expanse of the proposed Mormon state of Deseret. The body of water in this now arid location
emerged by nature of the Budyko curve. This curve demonstrates that when mass precipitation
occurs due to fluctuating temperatures, the sun’s rays’ evaporation cannot keep up with the
amount of water molecules when they appear so densely. The curve also acts inversely. The
wet become wetter and the arid more dry. The latter-day desert is currently eroding so quickly
that its complete history is disappearing before it can be unearthed.
13,000 ya - On the other end of Budyko, Lake Bonneville dissolves into the hot air dividing into
two opposite water masses: the appropriately named Great Salt Lake and Utah Lake, a
contemporary body of water that carries an enormous amount of algae - a site that biologists
look towards for alternative food consumption in the future. Both demonstrate different levels of
un-livability via Utah Lake’s enormous harmful algal blooms that are toxic to most animals and
the Great Salt Lake’s enormous salt concentration infamous for mummifying the bodies of dead
animals on its shores more quickly than their flesh can rot.
1902 - The Lucin Cutoff is built by Southern Pacific Railroad splitting the Great Salt Lake in half
across the connection of Ogden and Lucin. This causeway resulted in the radical color shift of
the lake in which the blue southern region is now populated by enormous amounts of brine
shrimp while the reddish pink northern region gained its colors as it became a hotbed of
halophilic bacteria. When the Great Saltair, Utah’s only lakeside resort, closed due to the
retreating shoreline, the captive flock of flamingos escaped and were reported to be seen for
about a decade across the Salt Lake before disappearing completely. Flamingos get their pink
color through the consumption of halophilic archaea. The subtle difference between the archaea
and bacteria lies in peptidoglycan along the cell wall.
1963 - Lake Powell is artificially created on top of 26,000 tons of radioactive waste created by
the Vanadium Corporation of America. These tailings are hidden by an earth shield that serves
as the lake’s bottom where large catfish lurk among hordes of Russian and Ukraine-native
invasive zebra-quagga mussels that cling to the branches of water-smothered ancient Gambel
oak. Today Powell provides the drinking water for much of the Southwest United States as well
as functioning as a major recreation and vacation area.
All aboard the ark of Deseret
Photo: Ben Sang