Great Salt Lake, Rozel Point: Robert Smithson's "Spiral Jetty" (Submerged), 1993, printed 1994
gelatin silver print, toned
37.9 x 47.9 cm
Gift of the artist, Vancouver, 1999
National Gallery of Canada (no. 40200)
© Estate of Robert Smithson / SODRAC, Montreal / VAGA, New-York (2013)
spiral with extension, seen below surface of salt lake, deserted scrub beyond
Made out of mud, precipitated salt crystals, rocks, and water, Robert Smithson's "Spiral Jetty" is an iconic earthwork. It is constructed in the form of a spiral 480 meters long and 4.8 wide, stretching counterclockwise into the Great Salt Lake of Utah. Smithson had difficulty finding a contractor willing to deal with the technical challenge of moving 6,650 tonnes of material into a lake: in the end, it took 292 truck-hours and 625 man-hours to construct the work, which was completed in 1970. "Spiral Jetty"'s structure is path-like. It invites the viewer (who first must drive to the remote location at Rozel Point) to walk and become physically involved in its experience. Unfortunately, as we see from this photograph by Marc Ruwedel, active participation is not always an option, since "Spiral Jetty" is frequently under water.