Monday, April 15, 2013

Figure in ground

It’s about two and a half hours drive out of Salt Lake City with the last ten or so on well sign-posted gravel roads. Despite warnings that it was too early in the season for Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty to be reliably visible, there it was. But until we got there who knew the lake, surrounding mountains and sky were going to present such a spectacular setting? As for the Spiral jetty, well it looked just like it does in the pictures. But, hang on a minute, what’s that big post stuck right bang in the middle? It turns out there’s a guy standing at the very end tip of the spiral. It’s a Spiral Jetty nightmare. In all fairness he just waded around for a few minutes and then came on in so we could take the same uninterrupted human-free pictures everyone else does.

Truthfully in the two hours we were there we mostly had it to ourselves but we did see a bunch of guys on trail bikes and customised bikers suits, a young artist who was a Perec fan and her dad from Salt Lake City, a couple of guys (one was spiral guy) with a very old dog, a small plane (the trail bike crowd raised pretend guns to shoot it down), and flocks of migrating birds. It was warm and perfectly still.

Let Smithson have the last word. “This site was a rotary that enclosed itself in an immense roundness. From that gyrating space emerged the possibility of the Spiral Jetty. No ideas, no concepts, no systems, no structures, no abstractions could hold themselves together in the actuality of that evidence.”
Image: Spiral guy.