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Are Seven Magic Mountains art or the biggest Instagram trap?


Here's what it's actually like to visit this colorful installation outside of Las Vegas.

After a week in the most beautiful National Parks in Utah, it was only right (and the American way) to see a bunch of neon painted rocks artificially stacked because hey, that's art!

Picture me in the car on a 4-hour drive from Zion to Vegas, trying to explain to my 70-year-old dad that we need to stop and see these painted rocks in the middle of the desert. He thinks I'm basic for sure, but alas, we make it to said painted rocks. There's no surprise why these gained so much traction on socials – the juxtaposition of giant neon boulders set in a neutral mountainous background? An influencer's dream!

Do people even care about art anymore?

This is actually an art installation and not just created for your social media consumption. We usually only see the surface level of abstract sculptures and miss the artist's intent most of the time.

So I present to you…my quick lesson on these Seven Magic Mountains, AKA “Instagram Mountains” by the Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone. These 30-35 foot tall totems of painted boulders offer “a creative critique of the simulacra of destinations like Las Vegas.” Basically, it's a play on the location being midway between natural and artificial.

Maybe artificial consumption has been part of his art all along and we're just reacting to it exactly how he wanted…

It was supposed to be a temporary installation.

The installation was supposed to be taken down in 2018. They keep extending it since it's original opening in May 2016 so my hot take is that it'll stay unless something major happens. They repaint the boulders to keep them vibrant.

It's free to go and is open 24/7.

Enough about art – you need to get your perfect Instagram shot (*jokes*). It's located about a half hour outside of the Vegas strip, so the day after a night out could be a great escape. There's a parking lot right off the highway and in the desert, you can't miss them. It's free to visit and FYI the nearest bathroom is five miles away.

Think about the lighting and crowds before you go.

You gotta do it for the gram, right? My piece of advice is to think about lighting. Sunset shots are really awesome, but most definitely will attract the biggest crowds. I went in the middle of the day for about a half hour and the crowd wasn't that bad. Send me your pictures if you need someone photoshopped out of the background ;)

It's American commercialism at its finest but yes, cool to see.

Am I basic? I'm not sure, maybe a little. Or cheugy is what the kids are calling it. Overall, if you find yourself in Las Vegas this is a cool thing to check out IMO. If it was hours out of the way then I'd say otherwise, but it is pretty neat for someone of any age to see. I'm a sucker for neon!

Be good, JB

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© 2023 by Jimmy Rox

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