Since the 90's Dutch Artist Rob Sweere has been producing large scale sculptures in public places. My first encounter with Sweere's work is Sledge-Project, Uummanatsiaq, Greenland, and this through an image in a book and subsequent internet searches.
Sledge-Project consists of insulated mobile wood shelters on skis designed to move around Greenland's cold and vast lands. The Sledge project was designed to shelter people in different locations within the town of Uummanatsiaq. I can only imagine what it would be like to be standing in the actual terrain where Sledge-Project is. The crisp air? Wind perhaps? Freshness? The light in the photo reminds me of New Zealand. I think the sublime vista would blow me away. Feeling the glow against my eyes that large white objects have when the light hits them a certain way, and not just the art. Those icebergs would be something. In a visual sense you can imagine sledding out to them. The sledges are useful indeed. I can't help but wonder, has the artist had these thoughts?
I can relate to with Sweere's ethos as an artist, and the myriad projects he has produced. The inherent romanticism, the references to the sublime, the sense of exploration, the retro-futuristic aesthetics (which smack of a sense of hope) and the opportunity to engage with landscape and nature and the experience of body. Sweere underscores this and delights me when he says;
"My task as an artist is to take people out of their usual pattern of thoughts and actions for a moment by inviting them to have another kind of experience. I will for instance create a situation around a tree that one normally passes by without even seeing it. When people use the artwork, they will focus on that tree and automatically other thoughts and reflections will enter their minds. To allow such processes to succeed, I have developed an imagery that makes people immediately understand how they can use the artwork practically, for example by climbing in it, laying down, and so on."
I also see how Sweere's Sledge project has parallels to to a Caravan project I am working on. (currently in build) I do not have access to the Uummanatsiaq's sublime landscape overlooking spectacular ice floes, though I (and my fellow Wellingtonians) do have access to the town belt. Caravan has not been built with the assistance of Inuit hunters, but it has been built using power tools on the kitchen table, and it doesnt have skis, but it will be pulled by a bicycle. When l take all of these things taken in account I feel Caravan Is not diminished in comparison to Sweere's Sledge- Project. It is perhaps less HUGE and less spectacular, but I don't think it will be less in comparison. Maybe this is interesting. True it is not finished yet, and after that art will happen, but at this point imagination is fuel for many a warming fire. I want people to think about landscape. I want them to switch out of their headspace for a moment and to experience something different. To feel their body and be aware of their scale in the landscape, to experience space in a different way. I feel that to even see the caravan would be to think of landscape. In this sense I see Caravan as a landscape work in itself. If you look back on my previous blog (Part to Whole) you will get more of a picture of what I am talking about. I am also aware I am working as a woman in relation to ideas of landscape, exploration and colonial history and that also engenders a different approach and ethos.
Documentation of this little teardrop caravan in the wilds of the Wellington town belt could have a similar feel to Sweere's images. In my mind the caravan will look similarly dwarfed but stoic in the wild landscape of the green belt of Wellington City, New Zealand. The town belt was initially conceived out of a 19th century town planning concept to provide green spaces and clean air for all, despite background and status. Because of this, it could also be a symbol for the idea of an enriched life being available for all. And if I need more enrichment, New Zealand is a land of sublime landscapes, one that draws a booming tourist and cinematic industry, so surely I can find my own spectacular view, one to rival the stunning and austere beauty of Uummanatsiaq and its iceflos. I can see the sun flare, the haze of nostalgic light, the endless green, the call of the wild and the freedom and majesty of it all.
I can taste the freshly brewed coffee, smell the wood of the caravan and see the green and feel the sense of adventure, freedom, well being and a sense of hope.
I will end this post with another quote from Sweere as it similar to my ethos.
"We are surrounded by natural elements like trees, air and water but usually we are just too busy with things of our own human construction to give them much attention. I think it is good to have a conscious relation with the elements of nature, especially because we are still largely defined by natural instincts and urges. When I invite people to come into close contact with natural elements, they may very well come closer to their own nature."