I've been battered with Robert Smithson recently. So far I haven't read a word of his, but that'll soon change. I just got a copy of his collected writings.
Smithson has repeatedly cropped up over the last 6 weeks or so, First off my good friend Andrew Atkinson has been reading Smithson alongside some work on the great American city planner Robert Moses as part of the background research he's doing on a project he's doing based underneath a highway overpass in Northern Manhattan. we spent some time shooting pictures there while I was over in the United States to speak at a conference on artists' books in Chicago.
Secondly, I came across Smithson's collected writings again when I looked over the resource materials at the Alex Hartley exhibition at Edinburgh's Fruitmarket gallery- Hartley's work on the built environment, using 'buildering', the technique of climbing on buildings as an act of urban trespass or critique, and his appropriation of urban spaces and architectural spaces as a realm of artistic reflection, presumably reflected in Smithson's writings.
Thirdly, I was speaking with Julian Warren and Smithson came up. Julian is working at Bristol Record Office just now, doing some preliminary sorting of the Arnolfini's archives, which at the beginning of Julian's task were literally 400 boxes of assorted stuff. Amongst this lot they have a very interesting collection of artists' books from the 60's and 70's, including, I'm told, comprehensive examples of Ed Ruscha's 'trade' books... and works by Robert Smithson.
From my point of view the significance of the coincidence points up the collision of some of my interests. There must, I think, be something in this. So I'm off to find out more about him and his work, which I previously only knew through Spiral Jetty.
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