Margo Handwerker / UCLA, Architecture and Urban Design

Gui Auditorium / Knowlton Hall
March 23, 2016 - 5:30pm

Margo Handwerker will present a lecture titled "A Useful Art For Useless Lands: Robert Smithson goes mining for resources" in Knowlton Hall’s Gui Auditorium at 5:30 p.m. on March 23, 2016. The talk is free and open to the public.

Handwerker teaches courses in the history and theory of modern architecture at the UCLA School of Architecture and Urban Design. Her scholarship focuses on the history and theory of late 20th century architecture and visual art, with an emphasis on land use and public art.

The co-author of A Decade of Country Hits: Art on the Rural Frontier (Jap Sam Books, 2014), Handwerker has contributed to numerous exhibition catalogues, including Everything Loose Will Land (MAK Center, 2013), spaced: art out of place (IASKA, 2012), and Nobody’s Property: Art, Land, Space, 2000–2010 (Princeton University Art Museum, 2010–2011).

Handwerker is a doctoral candidate in architectural history and theory at Princeton University and a fellow at the Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies. She received a Masters in Architectural History and Theory from Princeton University and a Masters in Art History, Theory, and Criticism from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

About "A Useful Art For Useless Lands"

"A Useful Art For Useless Lands" offers an in-depth examination of Robert Smithson’s letter campaign to several mining corporations in the years leading up to his untimely death. Smithson piggybacked on regulation of the mining industry, which required companies to reclaim their mines if not to their original state, then at least for some other "useful" purpose. Smithson capitalized on the ambiguity of the word “useful,” offering to rebuild both the mining corporations’ sites as well as their public image with his Earthworks. Negotiations for the first of these projects were under discussion when the artist died in a plane crash, and his essay “Earth Art and Mining Reclamation” (1971) was never published in its entirety. The research reveals that Smithson’s Earthwork was not, as many critics have remarked, a passive victim of the entropy that inevitably acts upon it. Rather, the Earth artist actively produced useful resources—Earth art—from seemingly useless ones.