Robert Smithson, Broken Circle (1971)
Water, sand, and boulder
Diameter: 140 ft. (42.6 m); Canal: 12 ft. (3.6 m) wide, 10-15 ft. (3-4.5 m) deep
© Holt/Smithson Foundation/licensed by VAGA at ARS, New York
In a sand quarry in the Northeastern Netherlands, Smithson has carved into the shoreline, flooding the resulting dikes to form an interlocking canal and jetty. At the sculpture’s center lies a single glacial boulder, while the hillside above features a winding spiral path - a manifestation of Smithson’s fascination with spirals and their elusive promise of a final destination. The work iterates the irreversible impact of industry -the land can never go back to what it was before - yet its hypnotizing beauty calls for a reevaluation of the relationship between nature and construction.