Pilgrimage (video)


People travel from around the world to experience Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, a pilgrimage that requires preparation of food, water, fuel and proper clothing.  I have been aware of the work since I was a young child and have visited several times each year while living in Utah. The Jetty has deeply rich spiritual symbolism for me, spiraling inward from the outer layers of black volcanic rock into the protected inner sanctums glistening with primordial salt. The harsh environmental conditions seem at odds with beauty of the whorled form, yet the darker role of entropy was clearly a concern of Smithson and his choice of location was quite intentional.  The movement inward invites contemplation, but the physicality of negotiating the path also instigates playful rock hopping, balance games and whimsy.  When many visitors arrive at the same time, a festive atmosphere rises from the shared experience. The Jetty phenomena changes with weather and environmental conditions enticing visitors to return again and again. In Pilgrimage, I use selective focus to give an otherworldly quality to the vast salt flats that prefaced The Great Salt Lake due to extreme drought. This video manipulates timing to accentuate the single uncanny moment when someone became aware of the camera and met the viewer’s gaze with a look of acknowledgment, seeing and being seen.