Spiral Jetty (1970) and oil jetty (ca.1920-1980), IKONOS satellite image (11/11/02)
good points from greg.org:
Allow me to clarify regarding the DIA Fdn.
What once began as an agency of change, a foundation dedicated to artists engaged in projects and strategies that defied commodity status or simply fell outside the boundaries of prevailing market structures, has now achieved its own antithesis as a commodities broker specializing in the reconstitution, reclassification and preservation of trans-historical artifacts.
DIA’s reversal of mission was concomitant with its reversal of fortune in the mid-90’s when the foundation was commandeered by entrepreneur Lenny Riggio. One need only visit DIA Beacon, a veritable Disneyland of 60’s and 70’s art, much of it recreated and frozen in time, to appreciate the fact that the market never sleeps, and the dreamer only dreams.
While Spiral Jetty will never post returns to anyone’s bottom line, its careful administration (preservation) affords DIA something better than money - profile. (A similar situation exists in the current plans to restore Michael Heizer’s Double Negative and regulate visitation.) And profile, in Lenny’s world anyway, is the best and cheapest kind of advertising. And if that means stopping time, and subverting provenance, then so be it. It’s worth it, as long as it’s worth it.Bitterman // 02 Feb 2008, 2:41 am
Smithson was not an environmentalist by any stretch of the imagination, nor did he believe there was any such thing as “Nature” - as something separate and distinct from human endeavor. In fact, the notion that progress and technology (even in its most egregious uses) have somehow removed us from “Nature” or set us against “Nature” is patently absurd, a fiction sustained by arrogance religion, and feeble reasoning.
Ironically, 50 years ago, Smithson was not only inspired but strengthened in his resolve by the wreckage and debris that once greeted the visitor to the site of Spiral Jetty, the wreckage and debris of a failed oil drilling operation of the mid-20th century. In his eyes, these things, this industrial junk (now removed - sanitized in the last few years by the DIA Fdn in the interest of stopping time for profit)was of the highest aesthetic value, a motivating factor in his placement of the work.
The cult of preciousness, the very thing Smithson held in contempt throughout his career, has finally caught up with him; the meaning of the work has finally been separated from the work itself; entropy has finally been defeated.
Nancy Holt is wrong. And if Robert Smithson himself were to rise from the dead and rail against the oil industry I would call him a liar and a fake.
I have been to Spiral Jetty, and as excellent as that experience was, it wasn’t the jetty that set me free, it was the intention, faint but still sensible, like the sound of the sea in a shell.Bitterman // 31 Jan 2008, 3:59 pm
and Today via Modern Art Notes:
The National Trust for Historic Preservation is out with a statement on the Spiral Jetty situation. From NTHP prez Richard Moe: "The National Trust for Historic Preservation believes that Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty on the Great Salt Lake is a significant cultural site from the recent past, merging art, the environment, and the landscape. We are deeply concerned about the potential harm that energy development could bring to the Spiral Jetty."
[Via]: The comment period about the Spiral Jetty-impacting energy development has been extended to Feb. 13. For more information from the state of Utah, click here. For more information on how to comment, click here.
From two days ago, via BoingBoing, 1/30/08 :
Paddy from the blog Art Fag City says:
I just received an email from a colleague of mine informing me that new oil development plans threaten the integrity of Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty. According to the artist's widow Nancy Holt, a number of pipes and pumps will be laid beneath the water and shore, as well as roads built for oil tank trucks, and cranes for other project needs,
all of which promise to severely alter the surrounding environment including Spiral Jetty.* A call for help is currently being circulated, the protest deadline, 7 PM ET today. Those wishing to voice their concerns should email or call Jonathan Jemming 801-537-9023 firstname.lastname@example.org. Refer to Application # 8853.
*Is this in fact the case? I first noticed the story on Tyler Green's blog yesterday (Spiral Jetty threatened by energy development). My initial reaction was, perhaps oddly, not to man the battlements. (I'll explain why in a second). Later in the day my Inbox was flooded with concerned emails from friends, including sculptor Stefanie Nagorka with whom I visited the Jetty in 2002 right after it first re-emerged after many years of being submerged underwater. I found myself writing back variations of this paragraph:
I saw it too this morning on Tyler's blog, and I wonder about it. That landscape is anything but pristine; it has been a site for drilling for decades, it's not a new thing, and Smithson chose to build Spiral Jetty right next to the much larger, pre-existing, smelly and foul "oil jetty" for a reason. One might say it fit well with his idea of entropy. The assertion that re-newed attempts at drilling for oil in Great Salt Lake would upset the "natural environment" may well be unfounded -- will it upset the jetty structurally? Who knows. I think we need more information before we jump on that bandwagon... Also, access to Spiral Jetty is through Golden Spike National Park, [the site of completion of the first transcontinental railroad... no oil company is going to be allowed to disrupt a National Park -- read description of historical significance!] On another note, I think Smithson might actually have loved the idea of more drilling, which goes back to the 1920s and is part of what defines the terrain. However, he would have been truly horrified by the idea of turning the place into a museum-ified tourist trap, a project Dia was batting around a while back... There must be more to it than this; will see if more info turns up.
The "oil jetty" is mentioned in the directions to Spiral Jetty that are posted on Dia's website (see item 11 below). Note: back in 2002, upon our arrival at the oil jetty, Stefanie and I got out of our rental truck to stretch our legs and take a few pics -- oil jetty and environs is probably one of the most foul, stinking, detritus-strewn patches of post industrial wasteland I've ever had the pleasure to experience. There's no doubt that Smithson was into it, and that it was part of his decision to position the Jetty where he did:
11. At this gate, the Class D road designation ends and the quality of the road deteriorates markedly. If you choose to continue south for another 2.3 miles, and around the east side of Rozel Point, you will reach the Lake and see a jetty (not the Spiral Jetty), left by oil drilling exploration in the 1920s through the 1980s. As you approach the Lake, on your right you'll come across a concrete foundation remaining from a previously demolished structure.
From this location, the concrete foundation is the key to finding the road to the Spiral Jetty. After you drive slowly past the concrete foundation, take the fork in the road to the right up and onto a two-track trail that contours above the oil-exploration area. Only high clearance vehicles should advance beyond the concrete foundation.
A PDF of the drilling document did turn up via BoingBoing's post of ArtFagCity's entry regarding the Jetty. Also interesting are the comments to AFCity's post, some of which echo my thoughts; here's one via Michael Buitron's Leap Into the Void:
The issue at hand is that the proposed drilling site is within eyeshot of Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty. A look at the drilling application shows that the staging area will be Little Valley Harbor, about 50 miles away by my best guess. One can't be seen from the other.
Abandoned mobile home ("all shot-up") Photo: Joy Garnett, 2002. Some rights reserved
I remember from my visit to the Spiral Jetty years ago. An abandoned mobile home--all shot up, an old half-buried pick up truck, and the remnants of a wooden oil exploration jetty that dotted the landscape. The rusted equipment brought to mind Smithson's Tour of the Monuments of Passaic and the pier Entropy and The New Monuments. I'm sure Smithson viewed that same dilapidated jetty next to his that was under construction. I expect thoughts of entropy danced through his mind too. Thirty years later (after my visit) I've read that Dia has removed the debris, too impatient for its eventual decay.
For those who are opposed to all oil drilling on principle, that's another story. Living among the oil rigs of Long Beach, I'm willing to accept the anti-aesthetic, for the benefit of oil that hasn't been shipped from the other side of the planet.
Cattle guard, en route to Spiral Jetty. Photo: Joy Garnett, 2002. Some rights reserved