new-york

Robert Smithson

Dwan Gallery

Robert Smithson’s new film about the making of his Spiral Jetty, in the Great Salt Lake, informatively gives us a sense of what that magnificent sculpture, difficult of access, is like. But it is also, in itself, a beautiful thing. Smithson’s geopoetic commentary accompanies images of a road, dinosaur skeletons, maps of Atlantis, crusty landscapes, construction equipment, dump trucks dumping their loads, in such a natural rhythm that the sculpture seems to grow by some developmental necessity on the earth’s part.

As a film the movie belongs to the ill-defined category of the “artistic” documentary, meaning that it demonstrates something and conveys information, but that it does this with a concern for its own beauty. Iconographically, it relates to that contemporary version of the theme of Sisyphus—the dump-truck movie, Hell Drivers and a film by Chabrol being great examples. In fact, the

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.