International exhibitions

International 2011 Archives

Robert Smithson, Broken Circle / Spiral Hill, 1971
Emmen, The Netherlands.

17.09 - 27.11.2011

07.09 - 25.11.2012

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Press release by E-Flux

SKOR | Foundation for Art and Public Domain - Land Art Contemporary

Forty years after the completion of the earthwork 'Broken Circle/Spiral Hill' (1971) in Emmen, the film that land art artist Robert Smithson was never able to finish due to his untimely death, is now to be completed as a video with support from Dutch partners.

'Breaking Ground: Broken Circle/Spiral Hill' (1971–2011) will be presented in the context of the 'Land Art Contemporary' program, which also includes an exhibition program and an extensive publication.

In June 1971, the American artist Robert Smithson (1938–1973) completed the land art project 'Broken Circle/Spiral Hill' in a sand quarry in Emmen. Smithson made the work at the invitation of the 'Sonsbeek buiten de perken (Beyond the Pale)' exhibition. Forty years following its completion, and after a highly eventful history, the work in Emmen is once again in good condition, and is the regular destination for those interested in Smithson’s work from all over the world.

'Broken Circle/Spiral Hill' is the only earthwork produced by Smithson still in existence outside the United States. As an integral part of these works, Smithson made films that reveal the spatial and environmental context of the work. Aerial shots in a symmetrical pattern were combined with close-ups, documentary footage of the construction of the work and views of the surrounding landscape. In this way, visitors to galleries and museums were introduced to the earthworks produced by Smithson in barely accessible, remote locations. As a result of a tragic aircraft accident during a reconnaissance flight in 1973, Smithson's life and work came to a premature end. Smithson was never able to finish the film about 'Broken Circle/Spiral Hill'.

Forty years later, a video incorporating the original film footage is now to be completed on behalf of the 'Land Art Contemporary' program in a collaboration between artist Nancy Holt and curator Theo Tegelaers of SKOR | Foundation for Art and Public Domain. Nancy Holt and Robert Smithson made several films together and were married for a decade until his death in 1973. Holt currently works with a Dutch team in editing the video 'Breaking Ground: Broken Circle/Spiral Hill', including the original film footage she shot in 1971, and video recently shot in Emmen by a Dutch crew. The video will be made guided by Smithson's film notes and drawings.

Land Art Contemporary
Several Dutch institutional and private partners are joining forces in the realization of a series of initiatives being developed in honor of the 40th anniversary of the creation of 'Broken Circle/Spiral Hill'. All these elements are brought together by means of co-production, support and presentation in the multiyear program Land Art Contemporary.

Exhibition September 17 - November 27, 2011. CBK Emmen, Ermerweg 88b (De Fabriek), Emmen, the Netherlands. Opening hours : Wednesdays through Sundays 13.00–17.00 hours. Free admission.

Robert Smithson, Broken Circle / Spiral Hill, 1971, Emmen

© ArtCatalyse International / Marika Prévosto 2012. All Rights Reserved

Robert Smithson, Broken Circle and Spiral Hill, 1971.