Monuments of Passaic (Missouri)
(images from Robert Smithson’s photo essay “Monuments of Passaic”)
Using Robert Smithson’s photo essay, A Tour of the Monuments of Passaic, as a point of departure, this project will address the entropy of another foundational institution of the United States… rural farming communities and the pastoral landscape they inhabit.
From the Guggenheim’s website (link):
Robert Smithson may be best known for his Spiral Jetty (1970), a monumental spiral of crushed rock gracing the waters of Utah’s Salt Lake. But to characterize him simply as an Earthwork artist would be to miss the depth of his vision, which lies in the interstices between sculpture, Land art, photography, film, and the written word. Throughout his tragically short career, Smithson mounted an attack against the strictures of art history, which venerates the static object and divides art from the exigencies of the real world. He searched for an aesthetic form that would be coterminous with the world at large. His “nonsites,” fragments taken from a landscape and framed within a gallery, broke down the polarity between inside and outside, leaving open the possibility of a third term that would contain both. Time and the phenomenon of entropy were central to his project, and photography was the perfect medium through which to capture the process and effects of duration. The act of photographing—like the activities of mapping, measuring, digging, pouring, mirroring, and writing—was an essential component of Smithson’s practice. His photographic essay “A Tour of the Monuments of Passaic, New Jersey” (1967) describes tangible manifestations of entropic states—industrial structures that were already deteriorating at the time of their construction.
The photo essay – (link)
Another essay revisiting Smithson’s Passaic – (link)
New York Times article on Robert Smithson and his essay (link)