Robert Smithson, Broken Circle/Spiral Hill (1971) in 1971 on the left and 2021 on the right.
Emmen, The Netherlands


Broken Circle/Spiral Hill

Robert Smithson’s earthwork Broken Circle/Spiral Hill (1971) was commissioned for the recurring outdoor exhibition Sonsbeek buiten de Perken. It is located in a former sand quarry just outside of Emmen, in the province of Drenthe.


In 2021 we celebrated the 50th anniversary with a series of open weekends from July to October. Besides a special audio tour and film showings there were various other activities in cooperation with the outdoor biennial Into Nature.


You could experience why Broken Circle/Spiral Hill is as urgent and relevant as ever. The only earthwork by Robert Smithson outside of the United States remains a unique place in The Netherlands.


The Unwanted Boulder


The Unwanted Boulder - an audio documentary about Robert Smithson’s 1971 earthwork Broken Circle/Spiral Hill in Emmen, The Netherlands. Narrated by musician Lee Ranaldo (former Sonic Youth).

In the audio documentary, the listener travels through Robert Smithson's world of art and ideas and his struggle with a huge, millennia-old boulder that turned up in the middle of his artwork. Initially he was unhappy with this intruder but over time came to terms with it. Despite this false start, Smithson considered Broken Circle/Spiral Hill one of his major works.

Coming December 1, 2022 to your favorite podcast apps.

View the trailer for The Unwanted Boulder here.

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Holt/Smithson Foundation and Land Art Contemporary, in cooperation with different parties, are working towards a sustainable future for Broken Circle/Spiral Hill in Emmen, The Netherlands.

The opening of Broken Circle/Spiral Hill is generously supported by:


All artworks and images by Nancy Holt and Robert Smithson are copyright Holt/Smithson Foundation, licensed by VAGA at ARS, New York.

Copyright © 2021-2022 | Credits

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