new-york

“Yard”

Socrates Sculpture Park

Robert Smithson was one of the first artists to think about suburbia in geological terms. His insight that the structure of the suburban landscape is inherently crystalline—the result of mineral processes unfolding at the limits of human perception—remains a relevant counterpoint to the sociohistorical narrative that’s much more often used to understand the sprawl that surrounds our cities. Defining suburbia as a synthesis of the urban and the pastoral—as a kind of intermediary condition dependent on antecedent forms of manmade landscape—leads artists into familiar postmodern terrain, where they deploy historical references and ironic juxtapositions in an attempt to reveal unrecognized or underlying meanings. But while this methodology has gotten a workout over the last three decades—Sculpture in the Environment (S.I.T.E.) started skinning suburban clichés back in the ’70s—it skirts

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