Saturday, July 30, 2005

Smithson at the Whitney

Recently seen: Robert Smithson at the Whitney.

Originally organized by Eugenie Tsai for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, this retrospective will be at the Whitney through October 23. In addition to some of the pieces he created for display in (and critique of) “the white box,” there are several films documenting the creation of his more well known, site-specific, earth art works, like “Spiral Jetty” and a variety of in process drawings, proposals, and instructions on ongoing care. The glimpse these artifacts offer into Smithson’s creative process exposes some of the threads that tie together many of his pieces. This alone makes the show worth seeing. And finally, something more to look forward to, from New York Magazine’s review.
Next September, the Whitney and an organization called Minetta Brook will present one of Smithson’s unrealized proposals, based upon a drawing called “Floating Island to Travel Around Manhattan Island.” A tug will pull what looks like a chunk of Central Park (itself a kind of island) around Manhattan. The idea is whimsical, of course, but also telling. In Smithson’s universe, nothing is solitary, isolated, or fixed. Even the islands move.