Visiting Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty

Today with three friends I visited Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, a piece of land art near Corinne, Utah, that was built on the shore of the Great Salt Lake in 1970. It was an amazing experience! I had seen numerous pictures of the Jetty in art history textbooks, but it was wonderful to get to experience it for myself. The scenery surrounding the piece is beautiful (the sky is amazing in many of the photographs below), though it is made even more sublime by the presence of Smithson’s work, which is made out of natural materials while simultaneously epitomizing the artificial. The Jetty would still be a fascinating landscape if it had somehow appeared organically out of the lake, but I appreciate it more because it is, in fact, an intentional something, because it is art, because it is artificial. It makes the lake–which is impressive-sounding until you actually see it and realize that it is this weird, uncategorizable entity of liquid death, neither lake nor sea–more interesting. It is in the lake, but not of it. Anyone who has the chance to see it should. It is a worthwhile trip, one of the most exciting things I’ve done in years.

What follows are some selected photographs of the Jetty that I took while exploring it. They move in chronological order from arriving in the small parking lot just above the piece through walking onto the Jetty and around it to the extent possible (the innermost swirl was enough underwater to be unwalkable, though it was still visible) to walking back toward the parking lot. At the beginning of the day it was overcast, but several hours later when we returned to the car it was wonderfully sunny, as can be seen in the final photograph.

The Spiral Jetty from the parking lot in the morning.

 

The Jetty on the way down the hill toward it.

 

At the beginning of the Jetty.

 

The center of the Jetty as viewed from the beginning. Note how the lake reflects the sky.

 

Walking along the Jetty. Note that this is its widest point, and it is actually much narrower than it looks in aerial photographs.

 

Another view of the center of the Jetty.

 

The Jetty viewed from within its first spiral.

 

Sean standing at the center of the Jetty.

 

The Jetty in the afternoon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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