Dia Foundation May Lose Control of Spiral Jetty

The Dia Art Foundation is in danger of losing control of Robert Smithson’s “Spiral Jetty” in Utah, a giant rock sculpture built on the bed of the Great Salt Lake in 1970.

The foundation acquired the work, which at times has been completely submerged by the lake, through the artist’s estate in 1999 and since then has paid for its lease and upkeep. The organization reportedly ignored warnings that a 20-year lease on the land was ending and the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands says it’s looking for a new owner. Insert your own joke about keeping one’s head above the water. Or perhaps you’d enjoy something about the work “spiraling out of control?” Always with the easy jokes, you.

Though The Salt Lake Tribune‘s story portrays the loss as a done deal, they also seemed to be informing Dia of the problem in reporting the story, which means they’re probably only reacting just now. Calls to Dia for comment have not been returned as of this posting.

“How is it Dia runs Lightning Field so smoothly/well, but there’s always *something* going on with Spiral Jetty?” Tweeted art blogger Tyler Green, who pointed us to the story. Dia was instrumental in preventing exploratory oil drilling five miles from the jetty in 2008.

Update 1 p.m.

We just received a call from Dia deputy director Laura Raicovich, who said Dia will soon send out a press release that refutes, well, pretty much every element of the Tribune story.

“Dia’s been in correspondence with the department of natural resources for several years about the renewal of its lease,” Ms. Raicovich told The Observer. “They’ve always known of our intention to renew the lease. We’ve paid every lease bill that we’ve received immediately. The ‘Spiral Jetty’ is of tantamount importance to Dia and its collection, as it is to the broader public.”

More to come.

Update June 16

Dia’s statement is available on their website.

Dia Foundation May Lose Control of Spiral Jetty