International Land Art Biennale

Site_Specific International Land Art Biennale 2013

Plett landscape the stuff of fine art

by Tessa Kruger

South Africa's second Site_Specific International Land Art Biennale will be presented by some of the most influential artists in land art — both internationally and locally — in Plettenberg Bay in September this year.

The event will feature a range of unusual artworks made from natural materials found in the surrounds by 16 accomplished land artists.

Set in the natural environment near the Beacon Island Hotel, the artworks will explore the relationship between nature and people, while increasing awareness of both conservation and the beauty of the area. What is more, visitors to the event will have the opportunity to witness the making of the art in the run-up to the Biennale's celebration day.

Visual curator of the event, Strijdom van der Merwe, says this second land-art event promises to be an enriching experience, thanks to the participation of accomplished land artists, including Cornelia Konrads from Germany, Jeon Won-Gil from South Korea and Marcus Neustetter, Sam Nhlengethwa, Wilma Cruise, David Jones, Walter Oltmann and Angus Taylor from South Africa.

The 16 artists who have been invited to participate in this year's event have been selected on the basis of their experience and ability to adjust to the assignment and working conditions. A further 20 artists will participate in the event on a voluntary basis.

"The event demands that artists become aware of the surroundings and respond to them to execute their works," explains Van der Merwe.

"What makes the exhibition interesting is the different interpretations of the landscape by the various artists. It is fascinating to see how different people notice different aspects of landscapes and interpret them," he says.

South Africa's first Site_Specific Land Art Biennale, held in Plettenberg Bay in 2011, saw Swiss artist Urs Twellmann, internally recognised as one of the most important artists in this genre, cutting discs from alien trees and carving them into hollow vessels that held water in the low and high tides. The original positions of the vessels were constantly rearranged by nature while water reflected beautifully inside the vessels.

Italian artists Gabriele Meneguzzi and Vinzenzo Sponga, founders of the Humus Park Land Art event, one of the most sought-after events on the global Land Art Calendar, crafted a ‘rift valley' between rocks which represented the African and European continents on the beach and used grass and a driftwood branch to make a long rope and needle which stitched the continents together.

Van der Merwe says this year's event will uphold this high standard in the making and displaying of the works.

Members of the public will be able to view the art-in-the-making in the surrounds of the Beacon Island Hotel between 10 and 16 August. The official opening of the event takes place on 17 August. Evening sessions, where artists will talk about their work, will also be hosted.

Van der Merwe emphasises that the event is being held for everyone's enjoyment as one does not have to be visually literate or educated to be moved by a great land art piece.

"It changes one's perceptions of the surroundings and enhances one's sense of being in the world."

Site_Specific Land Art Events promote site specific art in Africa, which encourages communities to care for their environments. It is a not-for-profit association of people who are passionate about site specific art.