Upside Down Tree II

Robert Smithson
Captiva Island, Florida, USA

Boldly subverting the natural order, Smithson uproots a tree and buries it back into the earth, upside down. Smithson created and photographed a series of three Upside Down Trees in 1969: the first in Alfred, New York; the second in Captiva Island, Florida; and the third in Yucatán, Mexico.  In his essay Incidents of Mirror Travel in the Yucatán (1969), Smithson writes, “…lines drawn on a map will connect them. Are they totems of rootlessness that relate to one another?” Arguably perverse, this work is reminiscent of Smithson’s controversial depictions of Christ in its blatant reversal of convention. Much of Smithson’s work deals with displacement, positing that an object cannot exist without the possibility of its removal or alteration. By defying what is “correct,” Smithson calls for an examination of what is.  


Scholarly Text

Upside Down Trees: Terminal Transmissions

Adam Lauder

Robert Smithson’s Upside Down Trees (1969) form a circuit with the artist’s parallel series of earth maps, one that materializes and satirizes period visions of the growing informationalization of art and perception.

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