Artsy Insight: Scarlett Hooft Graafland and Robert Smithson’s Spriral Jetty

In 2007, Scarlett Hooft Graafland traveled to Laguna Colorada, Bolivia, to create Vanishing Traces, a reimagining of Robert Smithson’s iconic work of land art, Spiral Jetty (1970). Smithson originally planned to build Jetty in the desolate landscape of the red salt lake in Bolivia, having been inspired by William Rudolph’s geographical study, Vanishing Trails of Atacama. While Smithson decided to relocate his project closer to home, building his basalt work at the Great Salt Lake, in Utah, Hooft Graafland would disregard Smithson’s geographical and practical concerns some 40 years later. She embraced not only the remoteness of the Bolivian landscape, but also a sense of playful arbitrariness, re-creating the iconic structure out of balloons. “Unlike Smithson, I wanted to use the light, temporary material that could get blown away,” she said; indeed, a wayward balloon can be seen blowing away toward the right of the photograph.