Even with its minimal notes and measurements, this preliminary sketch foretells the audacious undertaking of Broken Circle/Spiral Hill. Located in a sand quarry in remote northeastern Netherlands, Broken Circle/Spiral Hill required considerable excavation and a reconstruction of the existing shoreline. Smithson revered the remote, often selecting mundane, forgotten places as the canvas for lofty visions. In the drawing, the necessary implementation of heavy machinery contrasts the surreal stillness of Smithson’s design.
Broken Circle/Spiral Hill
In a sand quarry in the Northeastern Netherlands, Smithson has carved into the shoreline, flooding the resulting dikes to form an interlocking canal and jetty. At the sculpture’s center lies a single glacial boulder, while the hillside above features a winding spiral path - a manifestation of Smithson’s fascination with spirals and their elusive promise of a final destination. The work iterates the irreversible impact of industry - the land can never go back to what it was before - yet its hypnotizing beauty calls for a reevaluation of the relationship between nature and construction.