Transforming Space

Words:  Toni Clayton
Photographs: Fiona Christensen

Afrikburn is a Space of expression, excitement and wonder. People are encouraged to take part in the festival and fully engage with artist or art works of any kind. One is able to explore different forms of art such as performance, sculpture, music as well as other art contributions. At the 2014 Afrikaburn festival a group of students from Rhodes University decided to add their  contribution by creating a Space.

The work was based on the idea of a Space becoming an actual Place. The academic definition of Space varies between each discipline. This simple, yet loaded word can be used in many different circumstances such as in ownership – “come round to my place”, or in mental ideas such as, “he has a clouded head space”, etc. In art however, Space describes the skeleton/boundary of a structure / area. When one describes it as a Place, the Space has transformed in an environment where something or someone is moved by the content or atmosphere within the Space. This can be seen in an example such as a white cube gallery Space becoming and an installation which creates a Place.

In this art work displayed at Afrikaburn the artist embraced the barren, desert nature of the Tankwa Karoo National Park where Afrikaburn was held. The artists created an open Space by hammering four poles into the grown to form a rectangular box and wrapped a translucent white material around the poles closing the box however keeping one side open in which people can enter from.

This work was interactive; where people were encouraged to enter the Space. As one entered one could see the whole festival before them as they looked through the front of the translucent material. The viewer’s where instructed to give their own definition of Space by writing it down on a ribbon provided and attaching it with a safety pin to the front of the translucent material. The Space became a Place with people’s definitions consuming the front of the material and allowing Space to be transformed into a Place of exploration.

The art work was very well received, with many viewers took part in the interactive work. The definitions given by the viewers were both inspiring and thought provoking.

Here are some images of the actual work.

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