Robert Smithson Photography: Glen Apseloff, 1982, Kent State University Libraries
Partially Buried Woodshed
as seen in 1982
”The work consisted of an old woodshed that was partially buried on one side by twenty truckloads of earth, piled around and onto the structure until its central roof beam cracked. Smithson intended the shed to break up slowly under the weight of the earth, and vegetation to grow over the mound; and he wanted the university to take appropriate care of the artwork and the surrounding site until this process had run its course. He once said he hoped the piece would not only go on to decay but also would acquire ‘its own history’.
Partially Buried Woodshed would have continued on its slow path of collapse without much further publicity but for a tragic incident. On 30 April President Nixon, who had been elected on the promise of reducing America’s involvement in the Vietnam war, announced on national television and radio that American troops would attack Viet Cong bases in Cambodia, a country that had been ostensibly neutral throughout the conflict. During a student protest on 4 May at Kent State University, National Guard soldiers fired on unarmed students. Sixty-seven bullets were discharged in thirteen seconds, killing four and wounding nine. The Kent State shootings, as they became known, sparked a round of student strikes and demonstrations, both violent and non-violent, across the nation, and dramatically helped shift public opinion against the continuation of the war in Vietnam.”
Tate Museum, Lost Art exhibition @tate