Double Feature Films: Spiral Jetty and La Jetée


image of robert smithson

Blog Post by UMFA Volunteer Emmanuelle Cenier

It’s movie night at the UMFA on June 8 at 7 pm. Enjoy a double feature screening of Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty (1970) and Chris Marker’s La Jetée (1962) in the UMFA Katherine W. Ezekiel R. Dumke, Jr. Auditorium.

La Jetée, which translates as The Jetty or The Pier, is a  French experimental science fiction movie made in 1962 by Chris Marker, which tells the story of  a post nuclear experiment in time travel. Constructed almost entirely from  black and white photographs and accompanied by a voice-over narrator, this 28 minute montage explores concepts of time, memory, and mortality. La Jetée has served as inspiration for  contemporary directors such as  Terry Gilliam, and it seems to have influenced some of Robert Smithson’s ideas for his 1970 film Spiral Jetty.

The film Spiral Jetty is one component of Smithson’s larger Spiral Jetty project, together with his renowned earthwork and a subsequent essay. With a running time of 32 minutes, it depicts the construction of his earthwork  and partially maps the surrounding history of Utah’s Great Salt Lake.

Smithson’s influence is examined in The Smithson Effect, the UMFA’s most ambitious contemporary art exhibition to date.  As the exhibition demonstrates, Smithson’s legacy, extends far beyond his revolutionary use of land as an artistic medium. Since the mid-to-late 1990s, significant numbers of artists and writers have turned to Smithson’s work as a source of inspiration, exploring his radical ideas on the subject of entropy, site and ‘nonsite’, land use, anti-monuments, natural history and language.

Organized by Acting Chief Curator Jill Dawsey, The Smithson Effect  brings together a broad spectrum of work by twenty-three international artists and features sculpture, video, photography, installation, and sound art. The Smithson Effect will be on view in the Marcia and John Price Museum Building at the University of Utah through July 3, 2011.


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