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UAL Research Online

Unnatural fact: the fictions of Robert Smithson

White, Duncan (2008) Unnatural fact: the fictions of Robert Smithson. Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, 1 (2). pp. 161-175.

Type of Research: Article
Creators: White, Duncan

Robert Smithson is an influential figure in the history of contemporary writing in creative practice. Indebted as his work is to Lewis Carroll, Edgar Allan Poe, Vladimir Nabakov and Antonin Artaud this paper will argue for a distinctly literary examination of Robert Smithson's art. Smithson is best known for his earth-works such as The Spiral Jetty (1972) and Asphalt Rundown (1969) in which he offsets cultural and natural forms of production. Yet Smithson's ‘site-specific’ practice must be situated in terms of his textual approach. By focusing on aspects of Smithson's writing which call into question mediation, representation, mimesis and documentary, the paper will demonstrate how, throughout Smithson's approach, writing is a means of unsettling the cultural and the textual space of art production. Texts such as ‘A Museum of Language in the Vicinity of Art’ (1968), ‘The Spiral Jetty’ (1969) and ‘A Tour of the Monuments of Passaic’ (1967) are written in correspondence with artworks as a means of relocating the place of production with the reader. ‘The Spiral Jetty’ essay, for instance, which combines aspects of photography, documentary and film-making stages the Jetty's production by drawing attention to its form as a textual, cultural and factual production. The paper will argue, as indeed Smithson's obsessively essayistic reportage seems to acknowledge, that The Spiral Jetty is a matter of writing. Emblematic of Smithson's work with site-specificity more broadly, the paper will argue that the earthwork exists most fully in the correspondence between writing and fact.

Official Website: http://www.intellectbooks.co.uk/journals/view-Article,id=7857/
Keywords/subjects not otherwise listed: Robert Smithson, production, reception, writing
Publisher/Broadcaster/Company: Intellect
Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > Central Saint Martins
Date: June 2008
Digital Object Identifier: 10.1386/jwcp.1.2.161/1
Date Deposited: 01 Oct 2013 09:30
Last Modified: 08 Oct 2015 05:44
Item ID: 5736
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/5736

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