Ivory Coast/South Africa
Akissi Beukman is an artist practicing in Pretoria. She specializes in performance art, experimental sound art and painting.
Tankwa, meaning ‘place of no water’ led me to think of the negation of water as opposed to the acknowledgment of the dryness. It brought me to contemplating how language is so powerful and yet so ambiguous. Using the same language in different contexts allows for a plethora of expressions and knowledge-making. Not only words, but the sounds and intonations of those words inform how we understand. This, in relation to the /Xam language fading out of history and only preserved in archives that are not easily accessible to the public, holds great gravitas: where are these myths, beliefs, legends, rituals and sounds stored in the ether? How can we access this energy to listen, learn and revere the beauty of ephemerality?
My work centers around notions of landscape, identity, encryption, memory, commemoration and monumentalisation.
The Tankwa highlights my alone-ness. The Tankwa illuminates my feelings of displacement – being an outcast; an outsider, living only inside myself.
I seek to confront – and explore – this alienation by participating in the Tankwa Residency.
My work is always deeply conflicted between the two realms of private and public. These two worlds, private and public, are colourful and rich. Each is an abyss. For me, there is no middle ground (as my proposed title alludes to). I vacillate from one into the other.
My work is always alluding to past experiences and how to embody them now, today, in this current reality.
Through participating in the Tankwa Residency, I hope to invite an audience to bring their own interpretation and their own stories into the experience of my work – to hang their own stories upon my work. This lends the Tankwa a shamanistic mantle. It’s situation as a place – and its history as a place in time – is a combination that appeals deeply to me.
It is my hope that I, in turn, can bring something profound to the Tankwa.
I plan to use the 2022 Tankwa artist residency to pay homage to the movement of animals and the effect of their presence or lack thereof on the land. In particular the historical mass migrations of antelope. A possible form that this might take are semi permanent (small and moveable) “hoofprints” that mimic in a small contained space the prints that use to move across the land. The hoof prints will be life-size of applicable antelope species. To develop the piece I would have to research the history of migration, fauna and the possible effects on the land of these mass migrations. I see this work as a continuation of the artwork Tree of life and death completed by myself as part of Tankwa Artscape residency 2021, where I explored sheep and goat farming as part of the landscape.
On a personal note taking part in the Tankwa Artscape and Bodhi Kaya residencies in 2021 had a profound effect on my practice and how I can see my ability to develop practice as an explorative artist.
Mediums such as music, storytelling, short stories, poems, vocal recordings, ambient sounds and performance art can unravel the profound nature of loss in a world ravaged by a pandemic. I will use the voice or sound itself as an alchemical tool to transform and heal while creating emotional and musical resonance. In short, time is needed to listen deeply to not only the desert but the voices of those past and present. As the reimagination of life and death itself is at the core of this audio project. Before I Close My Eyes, is highly collaborative in its approach. As voices and personal narratives are central to creating emotional and musical resonance.
I would like to share the work created thus far, in the form of a collaborative performance at the end of the residency, if at all possible. The performance has a highly interactive component as it requires audience participation.
Being in a sparse environment with other artists allows one to delve deeper into such universal themes as well as the breathing space, to uncover other means of healing, big and small, that can be shared through music.
As a scientist I am interested in exploring ideas about the relationship between humans and the sky, between society and science and creative expressive of our knowledge of the universe.
Art dealing with Astronomy can provide access points to scientific literacy and a window into the cultures of people who have observed the sky for centuries. I am hoping to combine 21st century knowledge of the sky along with ancient stories to create these access points. The desert is the place for sky observatories – cloudless and free from light pollution. It seems natural to explore Astronomy’s vast scales of space and time in such a landscape with a rich geological history extending back hundreds of millions of years.
First ideas that comes to me when I think about this residence is to work under the concept of big and small, geometrical shapes, crop circle, chromlech, connection between desert and sky, and a constellation.
Duality big/small comes directly from the size of the place where the installation will take place. How to create something impactful in such a passage? I can work day and night to make a gigantic sculpture but it will still not be that high, mostly because you don’t have any scale volume. So maybe, I can do a lot of small things to make one big? A lot of little pieces disseminated on this flat area. When you line them they draw a shape, like a dot to dot sheet, like in a child’s memory.
During my time in the Tankwa Artscape residency, I wish to focus on this horizontal plain as manifesting from the striking horizon lines and gentle undulations of the landscape. Using weaving and trailing, knotted strings to gently connect various focal points in the landscape, I will explore the horizontal: the earth and the details that comprise it (rocks, sands, boulders, shrubs, succulents).
Throughout this process, I will spend time lying on my stomach, meaningfully noticing, caring for, and being guided by the landscape’s natural features. Spread along the earth, I will knot fibers and gently lift rocks; I will sit cross-legged and hunched over, weaving from an anchor point in a strong little shrub. I will be on the horizontal, giving value to the horizontal and taking cues from a place where and tradition in which spiritual practices have been doing this for centuries.
I’m interested in the challenge of how to grasp the sublime experience of the landscape by drawing with the landscape. This would be an extension of my more ‘autographic’ works, in which I’ve directly applied soil or ochre to the surface. For this, I want to find ways to allow an open-ended result in ‘collaboration’ with the landscape. The main thing I’d like to try is to bury five large pieces of canvas (about 3 x 4 meters) at varying depths for varying periods of time. I would also prepare smaller pieces to draw and/or experiment with throughout. I am hoping to expose them to soil, rain, rock, light, heat and/or cold as a way of inscribing the surface with this most ‘unspeakable’, sublime landscape experience.
Janet Botes is an artist who works intuitively to express her appreciation for the sacredness, cycles, and biodiversity of the Earth in her art and workshops.
Artists are often the shamans of modern society. We feel deeply, we are able to create language and symbols for the emotional and ephemeral experiences of life – the things that cannot be logically and empirically classified and explained. Artists are able to visualize paranormal and energetic phenomena, and evoke an emotional response in the viewer to make them understand concepts in a much more visceral and embodied way.
During my time at a previous Tankwa Artscape residency, I found another voice from within me. A remembrance from my soul – a clear and vocal echo from another lifetime – was unlocked by the spirits of the land. I feel that I have an obligation to the spirit of the land – to one of the spirits of the Tankwa – to give voice to her essence and message. I need to return and tell her story.
Nomads have always fascinated us! Because they challenge our way of living and our western perception of normality. They awake admiration and dreams and sometimes dread.
Today, the nomads become a role model for parts of the millennium generation as their nomadic communities, their readiness to change, simple way of living and ecological awareness. An admirably tough life that requires hardiness.
The territories of the nomads are curtailed by global warming, which results in increasingly widespread drought periods and the subsequent scarcity of water and animal feed.
How do we relate to our accountability to those who have always lived in harmony with nature…?
The broader concept of uhamiaji (migration) seeks to create site-specific art and or ritual practices and performances that highlight the historical phenomena of migration. The project will ask, how did we move from migratory nations to nations so full of hate through xenophobia and othering? Uhamiaji will locate historical sites of the systemic making of xenophobic and separationist dogma that affect us currently. Therefore, historicising the present reality of separation. However, this separation will be interfaced and understood through the fact that our artistic cultures by virtue of their diverse heritage bring us together whether we want them to or not.
And use the consciousness from spaces of human meeting such as the Tankwa Karoo to consciously acknowledge how our ancestors found points of meeting and tension in the geography of pre-colonial Africa. The motif of the desert is a cite of migration movement life and the intersection is to centralise the idea of community and healing because our ancient San and Khoi ancestors connected with the medicine of the desert. That which looks empty is full with the right knowledge and outlook.