Holt/Smithson Foundation Friday Films — "Spiral Jetty" on April 10, 2020
Through April and May 2020 Holt/Smithson Foundation invites you to join us for Friday Films.
Between 12 noon Friday and 12 noon Saturday Mountain Time (the time zone of our home base in New Mexico), every Friday in April and May we present a moving image work by Nancy Holt and/or Robert Smithson on Vimeo and IGTV.
Our second Friday film selection is Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty (1970). The film will be accessible between 12 noon Friday April 10 and 12 noon Saturday April 11 MT.
Smithson made the film Spiral Jetty on returning to New York from Utah, after completing his landmark earthwork of the same name in April 1970. Spiral Jetty is located on the Rozel Point peninsula on the northeastern shore of Great Salt Lake. Made from over six thousand tons of black basalt rocks and earth collected from the site, Spiral Jetty stretches 1,500 feet long and 15 feet wide in a counterclockwise spiral. In 1999 Nancy Holt and the Estate of Robert Smithson donated the earthwork to Dia Art Foundation, who continue as stewards.
As well as the earthwork and film, Spiral Jetty is the title of an essay Smithson wrote in 1972. He describes returning home from Utah to New York (“the urban desert”) and he “contacted Bob Fiore and Barbara Jarvis and asked them to help me put my movie together.”
Lasting thirty-five minutes the film is, in Smithson’s words, “a set of disconnections, a bramble of stabilized fragments taken from things obscure and fluid, ingredients trapped in a succession of frames, a stream of viscosities both still and moving.” The film starts with an image of the sun, moving to a bumpy drive out to the Great Salt Lake, to torn pages from an atlas discarded on the ground. Smithson’s voice forms the soundtrack. He tells stories and cites references as the film shows the making of the Spiral Jetty film and earthwork, the galleries of the American Museum of Natural History in New York, and Smithson himself running around the spiral of the earthwork.
Smithson was fascinated by relationships between geological time and human time, and this film shows both. In the voiceover he compares industrial construction to the formation of the earth, and dinosaurs to digging machines and dumper trucks. There is something wonderfully eerie and hypnotic about the film.
Still from Robert Smithson, Spiral Jetty (1970)
Digitized 16 mm film
Duration: 35 minutes
© Holt/Smithson Foundation, licensed by VAGA at ARS, New York. Distributed by Electronic Arts Intermix, New York.