Sequence of stills from the animated installation "So much depends upon a stick in the mud"
Pretoria artist Diek Grobler will be participating at the Venice Biennale 2015 as part of an international environmental collective called Nine Dragon Heads. The Venice Biennial has for over a century been one of the most prestigious cultural institutions in the world, and one of the most sought after credentials on an artist's cv. Grobler is the only artist from Africa participating in the exhibition, Jump into the unknown.
Jump into the unknown is an official collateral event of the 56th Venice Biennale presented by Nine Dragon Heads. They are an international community of artists, which explores and re-considers the relationship and equilibrium between people and the natural environment. The group was established in 1995 by South-Korean artist Park Byoung-Uk. The collective presents exhibitions and events in places as varied as the Dae Chong lake in South Korea; Sarajevo, Chamagodo; Biel/Bien in Switzerland; and now, the Venice Biennale. Grobler has exhibited twice before with the collective, which consists of artists from all the continents.
The focus of the group is on environments under duress, and in Jump into the unknown, the artists will work with environmental themes specific to Venice. Grobler's work for the exhibition is titled So much depends upon a stick in the mud consists of a series of ten endlessly looping animated films, presented on 10 small individual screens to form an intimate multi-screen viewing station.
The animated films are created with different animation techniques, but mostly compiled from photographs of the 'channel markers' used to delineate the waterways across the lagoon around Venice, leading to and from the city. By linking the photos into a video sequence, the wooden structures become animated, and seems to be a living organism moving over the water.
The films depict different routes in and out of the city, at different times of day, in different weather conditions. Some depict the marker from close-up, some from far off. One film focuses on the rotting of some of the legs, caked with mussels. One film is compiled of photographs from all over the city, of markers with gulls perched on them – by animating the photos, a single gull seems to be playfully hopping and bouncing all over the structure.
"To me, the city has become a deconstructed film, its separate, individual frames scattered across the lagoon. I attempt to put them together again so people can see the city for the living creature it is. I want people who have seen the films never to look at those channel markers again without seeing them move," says Grobler.
Jump into the unknown will open on 7 May 2015 in the Pallazzo Loredan, Venice.
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Exploration of the human condition by Maritha van Amerom