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

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