Robert Smithson
Upside Down Tree III, 1969
Robert Smithson (1938 - 1973)
Upside Down Tree III, 1969
35mm slide
61 x 61 cm
This photograph documents the last of three outdoor installations created by Robert Smithson in 1969. Subverting the natural order, the artist found and planted inverted tree trunks so the dead roots would face the sky. The first one was planted in Alfred, New York State; the second in Captiva Island, Florida; and the third one in the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico. He created this piece while he was photographing his well-known series of Yucatan Mirror Displacements. Reflecting on these works, Smithson wrote the following: “Are they totems of rootlessness that relate to one another? Do they mark a dizzy path from one doubtful point to another? Is this a mode of travel that does not in the least try to establish a coherent coming and going between the here and the there?” The artist also remarked that one could draw a line on a map to connect the three sites, marking peripheral places “that have slipped from the geographical moorings of the world’s axis.”