Early Monthly Segments

#33 = 11/21/11 = Jack Chambers + Nancy Holt + Robert Smithson

Spiral Jetty

This evening features three films on time and perception by three visual artists who also left their imprints on film. Robert Smithson actively and articulately imagined and wrote about the possibilities of cinema, so it is our pleasure to rescue his film from its usual expository position on a monitor in a museum’s dark corner.

Nancy Holt’s Swamp finds her lost in the reeds of a New Jersey swamp, trying to follow the voice of Smithson as he stays just ahead of her, out of sight. We are confined by her view of the surroundings as she stumbles through the rushes, completely unable to get our bearings in the swirling imagery.

In contrast, Jack Chambers’ Circle stays in one place, the relative placidity of Chambers’ backyard in London, Ontario. The central section of the film consists of a small patch of that yard, filmed every morning for a year. The result vividly marks the changing of the seasons and extrapolates beautifully on the passage of time as an accumulation of mundane moments, each weighted with personal experience.

Finally, Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty is more than a documentary about the making of the eponymous landscape sculpture. Within the film, Smithson is predominantly interested in the scale of time, mapping the elements of the jetty—the mud, salt crystals, rocks, water—back to their Jurassic beginnings. The film is a necessary companion to the sculpture itself, utilizing cinema to articulate how the jetty elongates time’s passage. The majestic final helicopter shot almost asks the question: might the spiral be built from the bones of the dinosaurs?

Swamp, Nancy Holt, 1971, 16mm, USA, 6 minutes, sound
Circle, Jack Chambers, 1969, 16mm, Canada, 28 minutes, sound
Spiral Jetty, Robert Smithson, 1970, 16mm, USA, 35 minutes, sound

@ Gladstone Hotel, Art Bar | 1214 Queen St West
Monday November 21, 2011 | 7:30 pm screening, $5 suggested donation