Robert Smithson 1938-1973
Robert Smithson & Nancy Holt "East Coast West Coast" (1969)
1969, 22 min, b&w, sound
East Coast, West Coast, Holt and Smithson's first collaborative experiment with video, takes the form of a humorous bi-coastal art dialogue. Joined by their friends Joan Jonas and Peter Campus, Holt and Smithson improvise a conversation based on opposing - and stereotypical - positions of East Coast and West Coast art of the late 1960s. Holt assumes the role of an intellectual conceptual artist from New York, while Smithson plays the laid back Californian driven by feelings and instinct. Their deadpan exchange ironically lays bare the limitations and contradictions of both sides in the debate.
Robert Smithson is recognized as one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century. Smithson, who was born in 1938 and died in 1973, was a seminal figure in the art form that became known as earthworks or land art. He radically redefined notions of sculpture through his writings and projects. Among his most important and well-known works are Spiral Jetty (1970), a monumental earthwork located in the Great Salt Lake, Utah, and Partially Buried Woodshed (1970) at Kent State University in Ohio. Smithson's critical writings have had an equally profound impact on contemporary art and theory.
A pioneer of earthworks and public art, Nancy Holt has also worked in sculpture, installation, film, video, and photography for over three decades. She is best known for her large-scale environmental sculptural works, including Sun Tunnels in Utah and Dark Star Park in Virginia. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Holt made a series of pioneering film and video works, including several collaborations with Robert Smithson. Holt's early videos explore perception and memory through experiments with point of view and process.