In 1969, the American artist, Robert Smithson, traveled to southeastern Mexico with the artist, Nancy Holt and gallery owner, Virginia Dwan. An aficionado of road trips, geology and geography, Smithson finished his series of sculptures, “Mirror Displacements,” which later shaped his essay, “Incidents of Mirror-Travel in the Yucatan,” while traveling through the Yucatan peninsula. Once in the town of Palenque, Smithson took a series of photographs of the hotel in which he and his companions stayed. Three years later, the work of art, “Hotel Palenque,” was presented to an audience of students in the School of Architecture at the University of Utah. Image after image, the author shared his vision of a building, at once standing and crumbling. There he found echoes of Pre-Hispanic architecture, as well as allusions to Piranesi’s prints of 18th century prisons. Smithson’s keen assessment highlighted the architectural and decorative elements that, in their extravagance—defined as “Baroque Maya”—alluded to the art of New York in the 1970’s.
Alias has also published “A Selection of Writings,” a compilation of Robert Smithson’s essays which were first published in the magazines Artforum, Arts International, Art Magazine, among others. This book, published in collaboration with Museo Tamayo, completes the above selection.