Within the scope of Fernando Tavóra Prize, I will give the lecture "America Deserta: Paisagem, Arte e Arquitectura do Sudoeste America" next Monday, October 2nd 2017, at Matosinhos City Hall.
This is the fourth essay of a series of five that I will be published at Jornal Público during this summer. It is based on the Travel Diary of my journey in the American Southwest. You can read it here.
The Spiral Jetty seems to be a device to promote a journey through a series of historical sites. It has the effect of bringing past events to our present experience, and in that sense is a Kublerian work. Driving from Salt Lake City for a couple of hours it takes us to the Golden Spike National Monument, and the history of the Union Pacific Railway. Smithson built his work on the centennial of the railway connection between the East and West coasts of the United States. Moreover, the first jetty we see when arriving to Rozel Point is the ruin of a former oil drilling site. In 1970, the Spiral Jetty was situated on a terrifying site, with blood red water, caused by the Lucin Cutoff, an engineering 'earthwork' in which a railway line cut the Great Salt Lake in two. The oil prospection at the site continued up to the end of the 20th century. Here we only see remains, but a few decades ago this place smelled of crude oil and was scattered with dead birds.
While in NYC, in transit to Salt Lake City, I was lucky to see John Baldessari's exhibition 'Paintings, 1966-68'. It comprised a series of paintings that Baldessari showed in his first solo show at Molly Barnes Gallery in 1968. I primarily went to see 'Painting for Kubler', Baldessari's homage to the simultaneously famous and arcane historian, I thought that this painting would set the beginning of the trip. In retrospect, I can see that 'Pure Beauty' was surprisingly present in many instances of the journey.