CONTAINER 2011, C-Type print on aluminum, Edition of 5, artist proof, 60cm x 43cm. Turmeric, cow dung, soil, grass and labour, hole size 5m x 1.2m. Production still of performative sculptural intervention, Bodh Gaya, India
CONTAINER For this work I created an invisible public sculpture. I wanted to draw attention to the momentary, performative nature of the experience of art.
In order to do this I decided to create a large-scale, process-based sculptural intervention in the park, one that could organically disappear without leaving any trace of its presence at the site. I decided to work with a number of labourers to dig a hole that forms the shape of a container or ‘bowl’ in the earth.
This shape was smoothed out and covered with cow dung. Finally another layer of turmeric (or ‘haldi’ as it is locally known) was added. The hole was left open for two days after which point it was filled with soil and neatly covered with the original grass layer. At this point the work became invisible again.
A number of conceptual threads are woven into the work:
India and South Africa are historically connected by way of the so-called Spice Route plotted during the 15th-17th century by European traders. The Cape of Good Hope was established as a resupply camp for the traders of the Dutch east India Company (who regularly traveled to south-east Asia in search of spices).
Haldi (or turmeric) is known in many parts of India as a particularly auspicious spice that is associated with marriage – thus signalling a co-joining of two different parties into a single union.
India is in fact home to one of the first great universities in the world, namely Nalanda University ( fifth or sixth century CE to 1197 CE) – a fact I often pondered whilst staying in the province of Bihar (where Nalanda was also located). Today very few people know of this historical center of learning and one might say it has all but disappeared from view.