SMITHSON: MAPPING DISLOCATIONS
October 13 - November 24, 2001
James Cohan Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition
of work by Robert Smithson titled Mapping Dislocations.
The show will feature a selection of maps, drawings
and photographs that highlight Smithson's exploration
of mapping and its integral relationship to his
works defined as "nonsites" and "displacements".
Smithson is most well known for his monumental earthwork
Spiral Jetty, 1970, located in the Great Salt Lake,
in Utah. While he is most recognized for his earthworks,
Smithson also created a large body of work that
explored a variety of themes dealing with the post-industrial
landscape, entropy, and paradox. His experiments
with maps and mapping began in 1966, when he was
commissioned to do a project for the Dallas-Fort
Worth Regional Airport. Smithson developed an idea
for a low-lying site-specific project to be seen
from the air. Smithson's use of topographic maps
from that project led him to develop a small but
focused body of works based on his notions of mapping
as fictive sites that pre-figured his sculptures
1970, Smithson was interviewed by Paul Cummings
and stated, "The nonsite exists as a kind of
deep three dimensional abstract map that points
to a specific site on the surface of the earth.
And that's designated by a kind of mapping procedure
these places are not destinations; they kind of
[are] backwaters or fringe areas".
are two major sculptures on view that illuminate
his relationship to mapping. A Nonsite, Pine Barrens,
New Jersey, 1967-68, Smithson's first nonsite and
Mirrors and Shelly Sand, 1970, a displacement, which
will be exhibited for the first time in the United
States since 1970. Mirrors and Shelly Sand is comprised
of 50 mirrors 1'h x 4' w back to back with shelly
early nonsites combined both a map and a container
that housed the earth or industrial materials he
brought back from the site he had visited. He thought
of the nonsites as "an absence of site"
referring to the geographical place where he gathered
these materials. Smithson wanted to confound the
viewer's perception by constructing a dialectic
that referred simultaneously to the indoor gallery
space where the work is exhibited and the outdoor
site from where he collected the material.
map works personify his notion of displacement.
He accomplished this conceptual displacement by
folding maps, cutting maps and reconfiguring them.
One example of displacement which typifies Smithson's
imagination, is established in a work on exhibit
titled Ruin of Map Hipparchus (100 B.C.) in Oswego
Lake Quadrangle (1954-55), 1967, in which Smithson
collaged an ancient map of the Middle East together
with a map of the Pine Barren's area in New Jersey.
the occasion of this exhibition we have published
a fully illustrated catalogue titled Robert Smithson:
Mapping Dislocations, which will include an interview
with Robert Smithson and an essay by Ann Reynolds,
Associate Professor of art history at the University
of Texas at Austin.