Transcription details:

  • Date: Mar 30, 2022
  • Transcribed by: Transcribe Me
  • Copy edited: Lisa Le Feuvre
  • Input sound file: Nancy Holt US 80 Solo.mp3



[introduction music] 
The next work is by the American artist Nancy Holt who works in New York City. Documenting a trip taken in 1976, the work was edited for the series by Holt in 1979. Let's listen to US 80 Solo: Nebraska by Nancy Holt.


Entering Nebraska right now. And it says, "Nebraska." The big sign. And you see a cowboy on a horse. And it says, "The good life." And today, I will spend probably 500 miles in Nebraska. I'll traverse the whole state. 

Just entered a place with a little bit more of variety. Sort of a hill, and some rocks. But now, it looks like I'm, uh, coming upon a very open plane.

Just coming into Kimball. Kimball, Nebraska. Not too many miles. 115 miles from a place called Ogallala. The sleeve of the road here is, uh, sort of a mauve color. The same color as the dirt on the dirt roads going off in different directions. It has a few of those sparkly things in it. I've never seen anything like it before. It's mauve asphalt with sparkles.

Just entered Cheyenne County, Nebraska. 
Just passed Potter, Nebraska. The cemetery's right next to the highway. A lot of people have worked and died here in Potter, Nebraska. You think about how they must be connected to those land. It's pretty rich. All around is nothing but farms. However, we are coming to a rocky outcrop, which does occur here and there, certain places. There's even a little erosion, a little rock jutting out, uh, of these hills.


You can see places where the clumps of trees, and old foundations, uh, concrete stairways where you know people have once lives but have disappeared. 
I just stopped, uh, because it said historical marker. It turned out it was just about how they built the road. Sort of a self-referential historical road marker. Anyway, just beyond there, uh, where I'm driving now, there are these, uh, oil pumps going all over the place.


I am now in Sidney, Nebraska. The sky is pure blue. There's not one cloud in the sky. 
Passing one of the roadside sculptures. Uh, burnished steel, uh, sort of twisted around in a sort of, uh, a number eight with its ends loose. I'd heard about the roadside sculpture in Nebraska. This had a little fence around it too. Very close in, so it really obscured the bottom of the sculpture.


Driving through this landscape, it's hard to believe that America will ever lack for land. It's endless. I like propelling my body through it, enclosed in this steel capsule, and watching the undulating overlapping hills as they go by.
Travelling like this really blanks the mind. I feel distant now from Utah in one day.


Now entering Chappell, Nebraska. 
[music from radio] 
Getting close to Julesburg and Oshkosh. Oshkosh, Nebraska. 
Yes, I feel like Sissy Henshaw making her way across the country and back again. Always in motion. Even when I stopped to eat lunch, I felt like I had an onward-going momentum which disturbed me at the time. I thought I should be able to quiet down faster than that, but I couldn't.


Entering Big Springs, Nebraska. 
[music from radio] 
Just entered Keith County, Nebraska. 
It's 77 degrees and I'm in Ogallala. Finally, I've made it to Ogallala, Nebraska. And I'm passing some stockyards full of cows. It's still a bright, beautiful, blue, perfect day.


[radio announcer’s voice] 
I'm passing by stacks of hay that look like bread. It's, uh, the same method I've seen in Utah a bit too, where they stack it up in a big, elongated mound.


[radio advertisement] 
I just passed a sign that said, "Entering the Central Time Zone." 
I just went through Sutherland, and I'm now entering Hershey. 
The green storage places out here are much more impressive than the churches. They stand up higher and call out to you more. The soil here seems kind of reddish. Sort of that, uh, mauve color I was talking about before. Seems to be throughout the state so far.


Just got off the highway at North Platte, but I got right back on the highway. I think I'm going to stop at the next rest area and have a bite to eat. My mid-afternoon snack. 
Went through Maxwell. Maxwell, Nebraska. And there's a sign now saying, "Rest area two miles." So I can stop.
Omaha is only 247 miles from where I am this very minute. And the next sign says, "Entering Dawson County."


I just took a rest at one of the stops along the road. This is quite a trip. Sometimes I feel kind of numb.
A bloody bug just hit my windshield, splattering all over the place. 
Ever since I went over the, uh, Platte River, east of the Platte River, there have been many more trees. And, uh, things are much greener, much greener. I think the lands on the other side where mainly cattle and dairy land. Although, the-they were growing a few things like corn. But here, everything's very rich.


The trees obscure the flatness of the land, which is at least somewhat interesting to be able to see forever. And now, the trees are here, obscuring the, uh, horizon line in every direction. And it's sort of a cramped flatland, rather than an expansive flatland.


Well, it looks like Darr is next. D-A-R-R. Darr, Nebraska. 
Just passed Turkey Creek drains. 
This is the place where they had the big drought and they've lost their crops this year.


And now, there's Shelton and Kenesaw. 
106 miles to Lincoln. 150 miles to Omaha. We're getting there. 
The last two towns were Phillips and Giltner. Boy, this is one long state. 
You go past miles and miles of dead crops. They just left them. They're all dried up from the bad drought they had here. 
A sea of dead corn. In a few places, you see they started to cut some of them down. But, uh, like, the corn is just, uh, sitting there all dried to a frazzle. 
Unending deadness for as far as you can see. Dewatered plant life.


[radio announcer’s voice and music] 
Aurora. Here we are at Aurora. 
Sun is setting directly down the highway in the back of me. I'm truly going east. It's very bright and very yellow tonight. But since there are no clouds, it's not an extraordinary sunset by any means. 
This should be the equinox now, so that I know that I'm going due east. 
Reflector lights by the side of the road are gleaming like golden jewels.


[music from radio] 
The sun's setting back of me again. It's caught in my, uh, rear-view mirror. It's shining in my face. It really makes the truck in front of me glow, glitters, everything is glittering, even it seems that the plants are glowing with a special light. 
The sun is just setting now over the horizon.


Omaha, 93 miles. Omaha.
Just passed Waco Road.
Just passed Lincoln, Nebraska. It's already dark, and there's 55 more miles to Omaha. 
The most difficult time is the last 100 miles of the day. There, it's sort of sheer willpower that I go on. But, uh, the rest of the time, it's, uh, somewhat relaxing. And it certainly, uh, wipes away thought from the mind. Sort of having dull and windy spaces in the mind.
And it goes on, this endurance trip, this marathon to New York.