March 17, 2015 - Comments Off on A Pristine Land Interrupted By Paul Van Schalkwyk
The Association of Visual Arts in partnership with Spier presents A Pristine Land Interrupted By Paul Van Schalkwyk
24 March - 22 April 2015
The paradox is that I cannot observe and photograph without intruding. Without leaving my mark. It does not matter how careful I am. Even if I succeed to obliterate all evidence of my intrusion, the mere fact that I return with a photograph is proof of my intrusion. I have changed the scene’s status forever. I am taking away something and I am also giving something.
- Paul van Schalkwyk, June 2012
After opening to a packed audience at the Franco Namibian National Cultural Centre in Windhoek, A Pristine Land Interrupted is now travelling to Cape Town to be exhibited at the Association of Visual Arts gallery. Paul van Schalkwyk was Namibia’s original fine art aerial photographer who set the benchmark within this genre. He was a solo adventurer and a risk taker with a deep personal and emotional connection to the land he called home. From his soaring perspective, the landscape of Namibia that had inspired him throughout his life took on a new vivacity of its own. Far from conservative documentations of specific scenes or places, the harsh contrasts, extraordinary colors and rich textures in these images truly invoke a feeling of awe.
The project is a narrative spanning 10 years of Paul’s quest for a pristine land: a chronicle that ironically thrust him into a dilemma from which he could not escape. His yearning to seek out the unblemished, to photograph it and to share it became a double-edged act of admiration and interruption.
The show presents the viewer with a multi-faceted experience of familiar and unfamiliar landscape locations, which prompt a fascination with the aesthetic of an aerial viewpoint with its ability to see the unseen. It simultaneously probes one’s own association with the land and how our voyager meanderings come to take effect. It points to wider issues of climate change and is thus as much to do with our need to reassess our relationship with the planet as it is to do with our observation of it. In physics, the term “observer effect” refers to changes that the act of observation has on the phenomenon of being observed. With the modern world’s impulse to travel and consequent obsession to photograph the land that is seen, we come to question our own act of visual detection and what this in turn means for the livelihood of that very land which we so seemingly admire.
Curator, Jackie Ruth Murray who collaborated closely with Paul over the past three years has designed a multimedia installation comprising high quality Dibond prints, video/audio recordings of Paul’s flying missions, textual transcripts detailing research and GPS coordinates, and physical assemblages from light aircrafts.
During the month of April the exhibition will support a public arts program on environmental issues in collaboration with partner organizations; Young and Rubicam, The Big Issue magazine, Spier Regenerative Agriculture, Maccassar Educational Organization, the Big Fish School of Digital Filmmaking and Go/Weg magazine. Activities which will involve a public talk, an exhibition walkabout, video screenings, and an outing with schoolchildren from under resourced schools, will focus specifically on how land changes and aims to create awareness and develop action.
Renowned South African artist, art critic, writer, and academic Virginia MacKenny will open the exhibition on the 24 March at 18h00.