press release

Hotel Palenque is an installation composed of thirty-one color slides and a recording of a conference that Smithson taught to architecture students at the University of Utah. In 1969, the artist traveled from his home in Manhattan to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. Once there, he felt more attracted to the old, eccentric hotel where he was staying than to the imposing Mayan temples in the region. The slides were taken while he wandered through it, showing the cycle of decay and renewal that the hotel underwent after successive renovations. At the same time, this hotel constitutes a work under construction and a contemporary ruin, the ruin of a building that sinks into its past. For the artist, it entailed proof that the process of destruction and renovation known to Mayan culture continued to be alive.

Hotel Palenque parodies tour guides, a criticism which is sharpened by the apparent, ironic tone of his voice.

Robert Smithson is considered to be one of the main inventors of the conceptual and theoretical form of Land Art, a fundamental artistic movement from the twentieth century that began in the mid-1970s in the cultural melting pot of New York and in desert spaces in the Western United States. This movement is rooted in artists abandoning the gallery space and venturing outdoors to develop their artistic projects as a means to escape art’s institutional authority and, in counterpoint to the industrial era, engage in a communion with nature.

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Robert Smithson
Hotel Palenque
Kurator: Sergio Mah