Beverly Buchanan: Marsh Ruins


Beverly Buchanan’s Marsh Ruins (1981) are large, solid mounds of cement and shell-based tabby concrete, yet their presence has always been elusive. Hiding in the tall grasses and brackish waters of the Marshes of Glynn, on the southeast coast of Georgia, the Marsh Ruins merge with their surroundings as they enact a curious and delicate tension between destruction and endurance. This volume offers an illustrated examination of Buchanan’s environmental sculpture, which exists in an ongoing state of ruination.

Amelia Groom illuminates Buchanan’s vision of sculptural ruination, and probes her remarkable work in terms of ideas of witnessing, documentation, landscape, and cultural memory. Existing in dialogue with land art and postminimalist sculpture, the Marsh Ruins are nevertheless unique refusals of art world classifications and systems of value. Making abstract use of concrete forms, Buchanan’s works embody their own stakes, from colonialism’s legacies of fracture and dislocation, to the workings of weather and time. In the words of her own mother, Buchanan had always “seen things” in rocks that others didn’t see.

Published by Afterall Books and MIT Press.


Support your local bookstore if you can! There is for instance for online shopping in US/UK. If in EU, I believe my favourite bookstore San Serriffe has copies of the book and is doing EU shipping.

Related talks / events / teaching:

29 January 2021 – Online lecture for Word & Image research group, University of Amsterdam.

23 March 2021 – Online lecture for at the Royal College of Art, London.

17 May 2021 – Online lecture for the Royal Academy’s RA Schools, London.

21/22 October 2021 – 2-day workshop at Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen.

25 October 2021 – Online lecture for Sexual/Racial Ecologies in Art at The New School, New York.

3 November 2021 – Book launch at San Serriffe, Amsterdam – registration here.

4 November 2021 – Book launch at Kunstinstituut Melly, Rotterdam – registration here.

16 March 2022 – Lecture as part of the Studium Generale “Oceanic Imaginaries” program at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam – details here.

4 April 2022 – Online lecture for the series “Practicing the Environment” at The New School, New York – details and registration here.

23 May 2022 – Library talk on Beverly Buchanan: Marsh Ruins at Laboratory for Art Research, Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen.

30 May 2022 – Taken in by the Sea: I have organised a symposium on Beverly Buchanan at the Laboratory for Art Research, Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen. Contributions from Phoebe Collings-James, Bhanu Kapil, M. Ty, Kiyan Williams, and The Many Headed Hydra. In-person event; all welcome. 

17 August 2022 – Berlin book launch at Hopscotch Reading Room (there will be a raffle!). 

6 February 2023 – Online lecture and discussion for the Art in Public Space program at Funen Art Academy in Odense, Denmark.




Some media coverage:

Book review in the swiss journal figurationen. gender literatur kultur No. 01 (2022) (in German).

Marsh Ruins in Metropolis M magazine No. 5 (June 2021) (in Dutch). 

Marsh Ruins in the New York Times (July 2023).