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RISING SIGN: RETURN OF SPIRAL JETTY

SPIRAL JETTY IS BACK, and it doesn’t look like itself. Robert Smithson’s epochal earthwork of 1970 no longer has the appearance preserved for us in photographs and on film shot before it disappeared beneath the surface of Utah’s Great Salt Lake. Submerged for twenty-odd years, its aspect has changed: the stones are completely covered with crystallized salt and the dirt between them has eroded so that at first glance the once solid promontory evokes a discontinuous ribbon of frost. Now that a falling water level has exposed it again, the jetty’s appearance brings it closer to the fusion with site that Smithson envisioned:

I thought of making an island with the help of boats and barges, but in the end I would let the site determine what I would build. . . . This site was a rotary that enclosed itself in an immense roundness. From that gyrating space emerged the possibility of the Spiral Jetty.

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