Tankwa Artscape at Stonehenge Private Reserve

Imagine a desert floor, undisturbed by human traffic. It’s not the absence of life that is so dramatically visual. It is a few million year old retrospective of ancient seabed and cataclysmic geological events in Earth history, and the footprint of storms and water flow in the river beds. Vast pans nudge aside scrub and vlei and gentle hills and land that drops outside of the quick glance, towards a perimeter of deep-set mountain horizon.

Across some of the expanse of tight scrub and dark flatland there is a bicycle track that may have traversed this space anytime between two weeks and twenty years ago; a rut has embedded itself into spongy soil between the rocks. Weathering has deepened the impression, the impact from which erosion has begun.
You could say it defines the beginnings of consciousness, that bicycle track. It represents a challenge that will always be here: to what extent should this kind of impact be acceptable. And where is the compromise?

As an artist - more particularly, as a visiting land artist - how do we respond to this landscape in a way that pays respect to the unique desert aesthetic?

The original ‘gate-keepers’ of the land here lived light on the ground. Who should be the present and future ‘curators’ of this landscape, and what responsibility comes with that curatorship? That is one of the questions that comes into the discussion of land art anywhere in the world.

It is the artist who is able to leave another kind of impression, a way of seeing that can affect the conscious gaze of anyone passing their work. In the end, if the art is offered with the right intention, the aim of this project has been fulfilled.

Considering what is the ‘right intention’ is where the work begins.

Stonehenge Private Nature Reserve, Tankwa Karoo

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Oryx 850. Simon Max Bannister, 2016. Image Jaco Uys