Strijdom van der Merwe

On Monday 22 May, Strijdom van der Merwe led an orientation walk for the artists participating in Site_Specific. He was struck by the myriad objects that perpetually wash up on the shore and questioned the phenomenon: “We all know that this occurs on a daily basis but how often do we really experience it?” At low tide the following afternoon, he created a series of circular drawings in the sand, positioned in such a way that the ocean would wash over them. Drawn on Plettenberg Bay’s Main Beach, the circles were framed by the sea on one side and the town on the other. The gradual erosion of the drawings was transfixing and highlighted the timeless tension between man-made objects and nature, the fleeting nature of our world and time immemorial represented by the waves crashing against the shore.

There is a clear beginning to the work – when Van der Merwe draws the circles – and a clear end, after the waves finally wash the drawings away; at no point throughout this process is the artwork ever complete. Each phase is part of a continuum. By creating temporary artwork, the artist acknowledges the limitations of perpetuity. Making work that so quickly disappears, stands on the cusp between futile and valuable.

  • Strijdom van der Merwe Photographs