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Robert Smithson

IN HIS “SITE/NON-SITE” projects of the late ’60s and early ’70s, Robert Smithson mapped the ravages and beauties of the twentieth-century landscape. His chosen sites were poisoned lakes, rubbish dumps, and construction zones, by-products of industrial capitalism. Intervening and scavenging in these wastelands, he carried back from them evocative fragments—stones, salt crystals, tar samples—which, in the gallery, became non-sites, abstract reminders of the absent site’s meaning. “My view of art,” Smithson wrote in 1969, “springs from a dialectical position that deals with whether something exists or doesn’t exist.”

Some thirty years after Smithson invented the site/non-site paradigm, two Brooklyn-based individuals, gallerist Joe Amrhein of Pierogi 2000 and artist and independent curator Brian Conley, have undertaken to exhume a pair of Smithson’s lesser-known pieces. Dead Tree—literally a

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