Partially Buried Woodshed by Robert Smithson


16 mm film

Collection of the Akron Art Museum

Museum Acquisition Fund


More Information

Kent State University film student Michael Tarr documented the day in January 1970 that Robert Smithson, along with a handful of students, rented a backhoe and piled twenty cartloads of dirt on an abandoned woodshed until its center beam cracked. Smithson declared everything in the shed, which was part of an old farm that the university had acquired, to be part of his artwork. He gave the artwork to the university with the instruction that they must allow it to decay naturally. Interested in the idea that the work would gain in legend as it diminished in physical existence, he considered this an “accumulation of history.” For Smithson, the processes his artworks underwent over time were equally important as their creation. Having sparked debate and controversy throughout its fourteen year life, the debris from the shed was removed by university groundskeepers around January 1984. All that remains today are the shed’s foundation and a mound of earth on the Kent State campus, the memory of the work, several photographs and Tarr’s film.