Robert Smithson: Time Crystals

Robert Smithson: Time Crystals

Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA)

Robert Smithson, c. January 1969. Photo: Nancy Holt negative gelatin silver photograph, 17 x 17 cm. Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. © Holt-Smithson Foundation/VAGA. Licensed by Viscopy, 2018.

August 21, 2018
Robert Smithson: Time Crystals
July 21–September 22, 2018
Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA)
900 Dandenong Road
Ground Floor, Building F
Caulfield East Victoria 3145
Hours: Monday–Friday 10am–5pm,
Saturday 12–5pm

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Robert Smithson: Time Crystals is the first exhibition in Australia dedicated to the work of American artist Robert Smithson (1938–73). Best known for his radical land art of the ‘60s and early ‘70s, in the years since his untimely death Smithson has come to be recognised as one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century.

Co-curated by Dr Amelia Barikin (The University of Queensland) and Professor Chris McAuliffe (Australian National University), Robert Smithson: Time Crystals reflects Smithson’s imaginative approach to temporality, specifically his use of the term “time-crystal” as a metaphor for endlessness, and as a visualisation of static, frozen time.

At the heart of the exhibition are sketches, preparatory drawings, correspondence, photographs and handwritten manuscripts comprising the largest ever loan from the Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt papers, held at the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC. They offer an extraordinary insight into the artist’s methods, processes, connections and influences.

Robert Smithson: Time Crystals draws on loans of key works of sculpture, film and works on paper from major international and Australian institutions. Presented in collaboration with The University of Queensland Art Museum, where it was shown from March 10 to July 8, 2018, the exhibition features over 80 items, almost all of which have not been seen previously in Australia.

Symposium: “Robert Smithson: A Crystalline World
Saturday, August 25, 1–6pm
Smithson’s influence on the field of contemporary art is significant and wide-reaching. His legacy can be attributed to both the way that he worked and the ideas he worked with. For Smithson, site-based fieldwork and research were essential components of art making, establishing key procedures in contemporary practice. His investigations into science fiction, crystallography, material history and geological time laid foundations for contemporary art’s engagement with ideas of the Anthropocene and non-human time-scales. This symposium considers how and why aspects of Smithson’s thinking from the ‘60s and early ‘70s are being taken up by artists working today.

Speakers include the exhibition curators and artists Mikala Dwyer, Professor Charles Green, Dr Nicholas Mangan and Jeremy Millar.

Film program
Wednesdays, August 22, September 5 and 19, 6pm
Queensland Film Festival director John Edmond has curated a series of film programs in response to Robert Smithson: Time Crystals. Drawing on science fiction tonalities and aesthetics, Against Entropy explores our interest in entropy as something to be thwarted. Shifting from the microscopic to the macroscopic, Crystal Constructs builds a model of the world, paralleling chemicals crystallising under pressure with the geometries of human constructs. Focus Points consists of four documentaries on Smithson and his work. Adopting forms precisely tailored to their content, these works engage with Smithson’s life, criticism, entropy, and cosmic time.

The program includes films by: Yuri Ancarani, Rosa Barba, Conor Bateman, James Benning, Pia Borg, Bill Brown and Sabine Gruffat, Hollis Frampton, JC Mol, Tomonari Nishikawa, Jean Painlevé, Lucy Parker, Ben Rivers, Alexander Stewart, and Jennifer West.

Publication: Robert Smithson: Time Crystals
Presenting new research, the publication Robert Smithson: Time Crystals includes essays by Dr Barikin, Professor McAuliffe and Professor Stephen Melville (author of The lure of the object and Writing art history: disciplinary departures). The publication also features manuscripts drawn from the Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt papers at the Archives of American Art, reproduced here in their complete form for the very first time.

Published in association with Monash University Publishing and distributed in Australia by NewSouth Books, in Europe by Gazelle Book Services and in the USA by ISBS.


Robert Smithson: Time Crystals is made possible through support from the Terra Foundation for American Art.
This exhibition has been developed in cooperation with the Holt/Smithson Foundation.

Robert Smithson: Time Crystals is a partnership between The University of Queensland Art Museum and Monash University Museum of Art.

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Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA)
August 21, 2018

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