In the Tankwa, anything can happen. The crisp sunlight touches everything with silver hues and fractured stone speak of the merciless elements. The blue mountains on the horizon frame the vastness of the sky and clouds with a beauty that words cannot describe. The stars shine brighter there, dawn and dusk appear as mercurial rainbow backdrops to this foreign and wild sweep of Earth.
13 nights later, the artwork titled "Solace" has been completed. I am exhausted. The very last ashes have been swept away and the final nail retrieved. This has been a build like no other and it is has been most rewarding. A set intention, good planning, structured teamwork and generous attitudes have been fundamental in realising this vision. It was not easy, Afrikaburn 2012 "Mirage" rose like a warm sunrise and left like a sandstorm, there was rain, hail, cold, heat and many moments to give up.
Solace had a well defined intention to bring about a sense of honour, awe and reverence. The structure had qualities that made it more of a holding space connected to the earth rather than an object placed upon it. A flamelike fortress breaking the horizon the two flamelike doorways were positioned to align with the setting Sun, a tribute to the great "death" of each day. As the Sun dropped through the passage, the heavy outline of the sculpture framed the light, thereby "lighting" the flame of the doorways. It offered itself as a place of refuge.
The untreated plywood nailed to the framework acted like a multi faceted skin, reflecting the appearance of flicking flames. During the day the light golden colour contrasted well with the gentle hues of the desert landscape and the turquoise sky. Positioned far out of the "binnekring", Solace acted as a pilgrimage for people to navigate to- a light in the darkness.
Once inside, there were candles to be lit, cushions to relax on and a box of charcoal to write messages on the walls. Many people visited, some brought heavy hearts others guitars and gongs. Over the 5 days the writing became more layered with a full spectrum of thoughts marking all forms of the collective. From the most inane to the profound- it immediately had the viewer in a state of reflection. Many times the space was silent and held a strong temple presence. At night the shape was softly lit by candles on the inside and full flood lights on the outside. The negative space of the doorway changed to an iris shape, glaring in the dark of the night. Visitors engaged with shadow puppetry on the walls, entertaining and revealing a playful metaphor of the "shadow" in all of us.
After a few months of planning and prep work, it took 5 days to assemble onsite. Ivan, Joseph, David, Johann, Boyd and myself worked from first light to the beating heat of noon to make the progress needed. On the second morning we awoke to find half of the form broken by wind, with many beams snapped. We picked up sticks and reassembled it that same day, adapting the design. To work with the wind in mind is essential out there. The weather can change in a matter of minutes. Camping lightly next to the site gave us the opportunity to really live the work, feel the isolation of the desert and engage with the elements. These days of the process were the most exciting and joyful for me. I wish to thank my team for their great attitudes and individual skills.