Dia’s Statement on Spiral Jetty Lease

Dia was stunned to read “Control of iconic sculpture Spiral Jetty in dispute,” in the online edition of the June 8, 2011, Salt Lake Tribune, which seems to assert that the status of the special-use lease for Spiral Jetty is in question. Spiral Jetty, by Robert Smithson, is one of the most significant works of American art of the twentieth century and a centerpiece of Dia’s collection. It was donated to Dia in 1999 by the estate of the artist, which also assigned to Dia the lease for the land that it occupies.

We want to assure Spiral Jetty followers and Dia’s audience that Dia and the Department of Natural Resources have long collaborated on the protection of Spiral Jetty, and we are in close contact with the State of Utah to resolve the matter. Maintaining Spiral Jetty in perpetuity is central to Dia’s mission and purpose, and to the history of American art.

Philippe Vergne, director of Dia Art Foundation, made this utterly self-serving statement Friday in response to the Salt Lake Tribune’s publication that Dia had lost control of the Spiral Jetty lease for failure to pay $250 in taxes. No accounting for stupidity and this is terrible news for one of the 20th century’s master works of art by the artist who coined the term, “earthworks.”

We were stunned, too, especially by the detail that the amount of unpaid taxes for which Dia claims not to have seen the bill was $250. Here is the link to the Friday article that got aggegated on Mediabistro from the Salt Lake Tribune on June 10th. By this morning it had been picked up by Mediabistro, Artsjournal, and other places – but the quote that bears mention from the Salt Lake Trib story is this one: “Worse, Dia had also failed to respond to the state’s automatically generated notice in February that its 20-year lease on the lake bed had run out,” said division spokesman Jason Curry.

Uh. Too busy having lunch? Here is a link to the Spiral Jetty film made by Smithson with support from patron Virginia Dwan of New York and Santa Fe. Smithson wrote:

The film recapitulates the scale of the Spiral Jetty. Disparate elements

assume a coherence. Unlikely places and things were stuck between sections of

film that show a stretch of dirt road rushing to and from the actual site in

Utah. A road that goes forward and backward between things and places that

are elsewhere. You might even say that the road is nowhere in particular. The

disjunction operating between reality and film drives one into a sense of

cosmic rupture.



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