The second artwork by land artist, Strijdom van der Merwe, titled Past Lives, for the UJ Arts & Culture’s The Pandemic Project, speaks of the earth as a complex layer of energy lines, representing many different stages in history and human life.
“In Aboriginal song lines, walking these paths and observing, a knowledgeable person is able to navigate across the land. Every century a large shift occurs in the constellation of these lines and the dramatic change into the unknown. The Covid-19 Pandemic has layered itself over the entire surface of the earth, decreasing the population, changing the value system of lives, economies and establishing new value systems of energy lines. First was the land always the land, we have to adhere to the lines and following the songs”.
Sarah Hopkins is a unique Australian composer-performer, highly acclaimed for her visionary music and inspiring performances for cello, harmonic overtone singing and choir.
Past Life Melodies is “a profound musical work which blends European antiquity with Aboriginal songlines and then transports one to Nepal, the roof of the world, where the monks are chanting”. (Stuart Phillpot). This iconic piece embraces several vocal techniques not traditionally used in Western choral music, namely open-throated chant singing, Aboriginal inspired chant and harmonic overtone singing.
Let us listen to how Van der Merwe connects song and art with the UJ Choir.
About Strijdom van der Merwe
Strijdom van der Merwe (b. 1961) is a full-time artist who lives in Stellenbosch. He studied art at the University of Stellenbosch (South Africa), Hooge School voor de Kunste (Utrecht, the Netherlands), the Academy of Art and Architecture (Prague, the Czech Republic) and the Kent Institute of Art and Design (Canterbury, England).
Among the many decorations he received are the Jackson Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant, a medal of honour from the South African Academy of Arts and Science and the Prince Claus grant in Amsterdam. He was nominated for the Daimler Chrysler award for sculpture in public spaces, was a finalist for the International Award for Public Art, established to increase visibility for public art internationally, and won the It’s LIQUID International Contest, First Edition 2012, in Italy for sculpture and installation. He was rewarded with a Kanna award at the KKNK Arts Festival in Oudtshoorn for best visual art projection in a musical collaboration. In 2015 he won the ATKV Aartvark award for most innovative work at the Aardklop Arts Festival in Potchefstroom.
He has held numerous solo and group exhibitions over the past years and his work has been included in private and public collectors locally and abroad. Commissioned work / Residency’s on invitation where done in Korea x 5, Japan x 3, Belgium x 2, France, USA (Smithsonian Institute), Turkey, Kenya, Australia, Lithuania, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. In 2013 he was the festival artist at both the Aardklop Arts Festival and the Fjellfestival in Andelsnes, Norway. Van der Merwe was a member of the curatorial panel for World Design Capital Cape Town 2014 and is a founding member of Site Specific South Africa. He was co-curator of the Exhibition of 30 Nature Artists in the World (2015) and the Global Nomadic Art Project (2015‒2016) in South Korea.