Tankwa Artscape Residency, South Africa 2019
Review by Janet Botes, organised by member Leli Hoch
The Tankwa Artscape residency is in the Tankwa Karoo in the Northern Cape of South Africa. It’s a semi-desert area with unique rocks, hardy shrubs and dry riverbeds. An ancient landscape in which antelope, wildebeest, lions and zebra have roamed for hundreds of thousands of years. The land on which the residency is held is also the site for the annual Afrika Burn festival – the local equivalent for the well-known Burning Man.
We were a mix of local and international artists, as well as photographers. We are sculptors, land artists, performance artists, mixed media artists. The international artists are from France (but living in Australia) and the Netherlands, while the local artists were a great combination of young emerging artists and established artists, including Kim Goodwin who owns the Goodwin Foundry.
The Tankwa Artscape is a residency in a tented camp where each artist gets a tent, vegetarian food daily, and the space and freedom to follow their unique process and progress. Transport was arranged to different sites for sunrise walks and sunset experiences on the hill.
Artists had to arrange their own transport to and from the residency, although there was a shuttle from and to Cape Town. Materials were mostly sourced onsite, especially since the theme for 2019 was ‘land art’, but artists are welcome to bring materials and artworks.
The organisers, most of them artists in their own right, were incredibly supportive and helpful. One of the owners of the land were instrumental to the residency – he held, supported and encouraged everyone (while also providing some comic relief!). Each night we held circle to share reflections and experiences from the day, sharing our progress with our art, and any challenges that we are facing.
Some of us (me included) used only what we could find on-site, but there’s a ‘scrap-yard’ of materials from the Afrika Burn festival which are available for artists, as well as a workshop space for creating sculptural pieces.
Artists could request assistance, and while there was a dedicated volunteer (who also did some of the cooking) we all aimed to help and support each other as artist community.
I would recommend this symposium to other AiNIN artists.
The accommodation and food – while some might consider it very basic – is one of the things that are most powerful about this residency, as it connects you to your own materiality and connects you to the elements in a real and honest way. We can’t expect ourselves to express an authentic response to the land if we don’t feel some discomfort, see the stars at night, feel the sun and wind – not only on our skin when we choose to be outside, but also have sand in your tent, go out in the cold to reach the bathroom, have a cold shower… It connects you to your own being. In your own body.
For the last days of the residency visitors were invited to join the experience, which included a gallery owner and senior lecturer in Fine Art, which resulted in incredible conversations and insights. This is a BIG plus point to this residency and very valuable.
The inclusion and participation of photographers to documents the – often ephemeral – artworks was an excellent part of this residency.
Leli Hoch has supplied this link to view some of the event and a completed video link will be supplied soon.