"Second Site" by James Nisbet

Author and art historian James Nisbet has recently written a new book titled Second Site, which explores "how environmental change and the passage of time transform the meaning of site-specific art." Second Site examines the effect of changing conditions on a number of site-specific artworks, including both Nancy Holt's Sun Tunnels (1973-76) and Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty (1970).

Second Site is available from Princeton University Press.

From Princeton University Press:

In the decades after World War II, artists and designers of the land art movement used the natural landscape to create monumental site-specific artworks. Second Site offers a powerful meditation on how environmental change and the passage of time alter and transform the meanings—and sometimes appearances—of works created to inhabit a specific place.

James Nisbet offers fresh approaches to well-known artworks by Ant Farm, Rebecca Belmore, Nancy Holt, Richard Serra, and Robert Smithson. He also examines the work of less recognized artists such as Agnes Denes, Bonnie Devine, and herman de vries. Nisbet tracks the vicissitudes wrought by climate change and urban development on site-specific artworks, taking readers from the plains of Amarillo, Texas, to a field of volcanic rock in Mexico City, to abandoned quarries in Finland.

Providing vital perspectives on what it means to endure in an ecologically volatile world, Second Site challenges long-held beliefs about the permanency of site-based art, with implications for the understanding and conservation of artistic creation and cultural heritage.

James Nisbet is associate professor of art history and visual studies at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of Ecologies, Environments, and Energy Systems in Art of the 1960s and 1970s and the coeditor of The Invention of the American Desert: Art, Land, and the Politics of Environment. He lives in Irvine, California.

Archived News

"Nancy Holt / Inside Outside" at Bildmuseet

We are very pleased to announce the exhibition Nancy Holt / Inside Outside launches this June, produced by Bildmuseet, one of Sweden’s foremost contemporary art venues. The exhibition explores the artist’s rich artistic legacy through a selection of works spanning 1967 to 1992. This is the most ambitious exhibition of her work to date. Perceptions and demarcations of being "inside" and "outside" guide this survey exhibition.

Robert Smithson works in "The Power of Wonder" at Museum unter Tage in Bochum, Germany

Works by Robert Smithson will be included in the group exhibition The Power of Wonder: New Materialisms in Contemporary Art at Museum unter Tage in Bochum, Germany. 

Two artworks that Robert Smithson originally made during his time in Germany in 1969 will be on view in the exhibition: Mirror Displacement: Indoors (1969) and Essen Earth  and Mirrors (for Bernd and Hilla Becher) (1969).

Discussions On "Sound As Sculpture"

A significant selection of audio works by Nancy Holt are currently on view in the group exhibition Sound as Sculpture at The Warehouse Dallas

The Warehouse is hosting a series of discussions on the exhibition Sound As Sculpture, including one upcoming discussion on Nancy Holt's sound works with Lisa Le Feuvre and James Nisbet this Friday, March 18.

Tuesday Texts: Chapter Three

We are delighted to announce that throughout February we will be publishing a third chapter of our Tuesday Text Series as part of our ongoing Scholarly Text Program, which invites thinkers to focus on a single artwork by Holt and/or Smithson.

Every Tuesday we will publish a text to our website that includes images selected by the author, a short bibliography, citation reference, and endnotes pointing to the author’s references.