© Estate of Robert Smithson/licensed by VAGA, New York 2013/Image courtesy of James Cohan Gallery, New York & Shanghai
1968
Nonsite: Line of Wreckage (Bayonne, NJ)
Robert Smithson, American, 1938–1973
Robert Smithson, American, 1938–1973

Nonsite: Line of Wreckage (Bayonne, NJ), 1968

Painted aluminum container with broken concrete, framed map, and three photo panels
Cage: 149.9 x 177.8 x 31.7 cm. (59 x 70 x 12 1/2 in.)
Panels (each): : 9.5 x 124.5 cm. (3 3/4 x 49 in.)
Milwaukee Art Museum, purchase, National Endowment for the Arts Matching Funds
"Nonsite" is the name Smithson gave to the mixed-media sculptures he began to create in 1968, while exploring some of New Jersey's most desolate landscapes with Nancy Holt. Composed of ore and metal bins, as well as texts, maps, and photographs, each nonsite directs the viewer's attention to the site—the pit, quarry, or field—from which its mineral components originated. The result is a work of art in which museum and landscape, center and periphery, indoors and outdoors are wedded together.

Smithson’s earliest nonsites were made with materials scavenged in New Jersey, including the fill-zone—a graveyard of rubble, concrete, and rusting tankards—in Bayonne, the source for the rocks in this nonsite. About Bayonne, Smithson once said, "Your perception is somehow scattered by the distribution of broken material . . . there’s just a kind of continual buildup of breakdown."

The Fertility of Desolation