The world’s leading site-specific artists are in Plettenberg Bay for the second International Land Art Biennale, which runs until 17 August. This award-winning initiative affords artists the opportunity to express their creativity on nature’s “canvas”.
Although relatively unknown to many South Africans, site-specific art is artwork created to exist in a certain place, and was first used in the mid-1970s by young foreign sculptors such as Patricia Johanson, Dennis Oppenheim and Athena Tacha, who produced public commissions for large urban sites.
Utilising natural backdrops and surroundings, the artists set about manipulating objects in creative ways to provide an entirely different perspective on a particular environment.
Since 2011, when the first international biennale was held in Plettenberg Bay, site-specifics have grown in stature, with an increasing number of South Africans taking up the art form.
Today, through the efforts of organisations such as Site_Specific Land Art Events, artists such as Strijdom van der Merwe are in high demand around the world.
Van der Merwe, whose work has featured in South Korea, Turkey, Belgium, France, Sweden, Lithuania, Japan and the US, is also the recipient of the Jackson Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant, the Medal of Honour from the South African Academy of Arts and Science, and the Prince Claus Fund grant from the Netherlands.
The biennale, which is supported and sponsored by the Bitou municipality, also earned Plettenberg Bay’s Beacon Island Resort the arts and environment award at the Business Day-Anglo American Business and Arts SA awards last year.
Event spokesman Anni Strydom, herself an artist, says Site_Specific Land Art Events is particularly excited about this year’s event as it has attracted some big names.
“We have some of the best in the world coming in Cornelia Konrads from Germany and Won-gil Jeon from South Korea. In addition, we have so many new artists who have wanted to sign on, so we can’t wait,” she says. “What is especially pleasing is that we will be hosting a number of workshops around the region, from Kurland to Harkerville and Kwanokuthula, getting everyone involved and interested in site-specific art.”
Konrads’s focus is on site-specific sculptures — indoors and outdoors, temporary and permanent, for public spaces, sculpture parks and private gardens — and she is in constant demand in Asia, Australia, and the US.
Jeon is renowned for expressing various connections with nature in different media and is presently acting as a director of the YATOO International Project.
“It has always been our plan to grow site-specific in SA because we have fantastic, reasonably protected landscapes which are perfect for the artists,” says Strydom. “What was so refreshing in 2011 was that all the communities around Plett took an interest. In some cases, we had cultural groups from Kwanokuthula in which some members had never even been to the beach. When they saw these amazing designs being created there, you can only imagine the impression that was left.”
By John Harvey. Source: BD Live
- ‘Los’ by Angus Taylor, Site Specific 2011 Land Art Event, Plettenberg Bay.
- ‘Fragile Interventions’ byÂ Strijdom van der Merwe, for the exhibition SWIM made on site as part of the Malta Arts Festival.
- Art works done by Strijdom van der Merwe in the landscape on site as Festival Artist for the Norsk Fjell Festival.