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"Robert Smithson: Films, Writings, Drawings"
2000-11-24 until 2001-02-25
Kunsthalle Wien, Museumsquartier
The American artist Robert Smithson (1938-1973) is a key figure of Land Art and, at the same time, an important exponent of Concept Art. His is an oeuvre of lasting significance, which derives from the fact that, unlike in almost any other case, physical objects (installations, sculptures, Land Art, drawings, photos, films) and theoretical writings (a blend of reflections on art theory, travel journals and conversations) form one consistent unity.
Unlike other Land Art artists, Smithson did not want to confine himself to earth works. Apart from the fact that his landscape works are difficult to get at or existed only for a short period of time, media such as film, video, text and photography were integral parts of his artwork. Places, pictures, texts: Smithson also raised the question of the context of art, of art's immanent presuppositions. He outlines a topology of specific places and notions of art befitting them, exploring their aesthetic potential: apartment, studio, suburban house, gallery, museum, office building, but also tunnels, dams, bridges, airports. Smithson's artistic strategy of using various different forms of presentations and of producing media combines is in keeping with his criticism of anthropomorphous projection - the work is no longer a permanent vis-a-vis. Smithson's pieces can be read as a fabric of heterogeneous information that resists the idea of completion through an interminable chain of cross-references. This strategy will be made'transparent in the exhibition: there will be reproductions and pieces conceived for reproductive media on view - films, photos, photo-text pieces, film studies, but also original drawings. The context and production methods will be illustrated by documentary material.
The exhibition, curated by Eva Schmidt and Kai Voeckler, also provides an occasion to accomplish the long-overdue translation of Smithson's writings into German, which will be presented in the Kunsthalle exhibition for the first time. The writings will be published in cooperation with Walther Koenig Publications, Cologne.