What art have I seen? Spiral Jetty

Posted in Exhibitions, Sited work by chrisfremantle on June 28, 2015
Spiral Jetty - photo Jake Fremantle

Spiral Jetty – photo Jake Fremantle

To visit Spiral Jetty you have to pass through the Golden Spike National Historic Site, created in 1957 to mark the point where the east coast and west coast railways met in 1869.  It now comprises 2,700 acres of scrubland, but not Spiral Jetty – you clearly pass through ranches to get to the Jetty – the signs saying anyone leaving the road is trespassing are pretty clear.

Imagining Spiral Jetty, February 2008

November, 2009. Smithson, Aldiss and Earthworks

Designing Environments for Life

Posted in Texts by chrisfremantle on October 22, 2009

For the next event we have been asked “…we would like to invite and encourage you to prepare a very short presentation (5mins max) on a single reading. Please choose one text which has had a profound influence on your thinking and/or practice, and review it with the very specific brief of Designing Environments for Life in mind.”

So I’ve been thinking about texts…

Jane Jacobs’ Nature of Economies is a definite possibility

Helen and Newton’s piece for Structure and Dynamics pdf

Looking through books:

Vivienne Westwood’s Manifesto

Merle Laderman Ukeles Manifesto of Maintenance Art

(actually I have a lot of manifestos and statements by artists)

James Turrell talking about needing to continue Ranching whilst making Roden Crater

Robert Smithson’s Collected Writings are always good.

Renwick’s report “The land we live on is our home” pdf

Patrick Scott’s Stories Told about the impact of the Berger Inquiry on First Nation Politics and the importance of storytelling.  Or Alistair McIntosh‘s Soil and Soul.

I could also suggest Distance & Proximity, a book of Thomas A Clark‘s poems, and then I could just read a few!

(e.g. “In the art of the great music, the drone is eternity, the tune tradition, the performance the life of the individual”

or “”The routines we accept can strangle us but the rituals we choose give renewed life”

or “A book of poems in the rucksack – that is the relation of art to life”

And I should certainly consider Gary Snyder who I was reading over the summer.

Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty threatened

Posted in CF Writing by chrisfremantle on February 5, 2008

Some of the many histories of Spiral Jetty


20 years ago a massive campaign led by Nancy Holt, and supported by cultural activists across the world, saved Spiral Jetty from a plans to pump oil from under the Great Salt Lake. Arguing that Spiral Jetty and its context were of international importance, a swift and successful international action was mounted. The UN declared Spiral Jetty a World Heritage Site, putting it in the same category as Machu Pichu and the Great Pyramid of Giza. On the back of this campaign, the Dia Foundation secured donations in excess of $1 billion. With this funding they were able to secure land around all the major Land Art sites – De Maria’s Lightning Field, Heizer’s Double Negative and Holt’s Sun Tunnels. They joined these parcels up to create Entropy Park which now forms a complete ring around the State of Utah. Arguments continue to rage amongst art historians and critical theorists.


20 years ago a spoof email and web site initiated one of those brief flurries that characterised the early 21st century internet. The email suggested that Spiral Jetty was endangered by a proposed energy development which would involve pumping oil from beneath the Salt Lake. Although it did not come from Nancy Holt, it intimated her involvement in a campaign. The net result was that Jonathan Jemming, a Planning Official in Utah State, received approximately 1,500 emails within a one week period. These emails, from artists and academics, museum directors and critical theorists, were in turn abusive, erudite, impenetrable, passionate, and in every case objected to a planning application that did not exist. In fact Jonathan Jemming had never heard of Robert Smithson or Spiral Jetty. Meantime arguments raged amongst art historians and critical theorists.


20 years ago, despite protests by Nancy Holt and others, they started pumping oil from under the Great Salt Lake in Utah, near Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty. Unfortunately no one realised that, due to a lack of maintenance, pressure would build up in the underground pipes and explode on July 20th 2033. The blast made a crater nearly a kilometre across and caused a tidal wave to travel across the lake. No one was killed. Spiral Jetty ceased to exist. This caused outrage in the art world. The Dia Foundation secured donations of $1 billion to reconstruct the work as well as undisclosed damages from the ExMoBphell conglomerate operating the installation. In the past 5 years no work has been done to reconstruct Spiral Jetty. The Dia Foundation have bought additional parcels of land encompassing the whole of the crater and its surroundings. They have designated this Entropy Park. Arguments continue to rage amongst art historians and critical theorists.

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Dimitrijevic, Smithson and Magritte

Posted in Research, Texts by chrisfremantle on May 30, 2006

At the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art last winter I saw a room of photography that SNGMA had recently purchased. This included a group of six photographs by Braco Dimitrijevic entitled This could be a place of historical importance (I have not been able to find images of this work online). For me this work clearly links with Robert Smithson’s Visit the Monuments of Passaic New Jersey. Talking to our friend Gail about this she made the link with Magritte’s Ce n’est pas une pipe. So what is the link between these artists in the early 70s and surrealism?

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