Nastasha Daniels, curator and contemporary artist - With a BA Fine Art qualification from Stellenbosch University, and gallery experience with SMAC gallery - curates a collection of art relating to mountains and what they mean within our urbanized society.
As an artist yourself, what is your biggest achievement or highlight of your career up to now?
My greatest achievement would have to be hosting the HumanEarth Exhibition Series. It has offered me the opportunity to blend the two things I love most; art and the Earth. As a curator, which project or exhibition are you most proud of?
I am most proud of a collaboration between HumanEarth and Dwight International School, Seoul. Through this collaboration, Elementary and Middle School students were introduced to Land art. The impact that Land art made on the students was so profound that the school has now included it as a permanent part of the syllabus.
How would you describe your taste in art? What are you most drawn to?
I would say I am drawn to conceptual and abstract art. That being said, if I see something and I like it then it doesn't matter which genre it fits into.
What role does art play in your life?
I think the question should rather be what role doesn't art play in my life. My work, play and everything in between is art.
What is the favorite piece of art that you own?
A mixed media drawing by the talented Nina Faasen.
Do you have any advice for someone starting an art collection?
It is never too late or too early to start. No piece should be judged according to popularity or price. Instead, if you love it... you should have it.
What does the art in your home say about you?
It says that I can appreciate the beauty in varying types of art. I will never deny one form because all forms are beautiful in their own right.
Which South African artist, living or dead, would you most like to meet?
Which books are on your bedside table?
The Human Zoo by Desmond Morris. Kemang wa Lehulere's SANG catalogue. and Show Time, the 50 most influencial exhibitions of contemporary art by Jens Hoffman.
What music are you currently listening to?
Beyonce - Formation
What was the last great exhibition you went to?
New Church Museum - 50/50; currently on view. The show was well curated. The artworks bounce ideas and concepts off each other. The exhibition has a conversation with you as you walk through it.
Do you have a favourite museum or gallery (worldwide)?
If you could have any piece of art on StateoftheART regardless of price or size, what would it be?
Sue Kaplan, Bird.
“Die berg is so mooi”
– Hester van der Rheede
From a geographical point of view, it is important to note, “a quarter of the Earth's surface lies at heights above 3,300 feet or more, above sea level, but these mountain areas are thinly populated by man.(1)” This being said, it is no wonder that humans have a deep respect for mountain formations and has done so for many years. It is widely understood that mountains, in both ancient civilisations and current civilisations, have come to symbolize the closest connection humans may have to intangible bodies. They also foster relationships between humans themselves and between humans and nature.
Several artists chosen for this project have explained their interaction with mountains as a spiritual one. Bettie Coetzee Lamprecht notes that mankind and mountains share a long-standing history deeply embedded in ancient beliefs and spirituality. For example “pilgrimages have taken place for a number of years up sacred mountains symbolising aspiration and renunciation of worldly desires.(2)” Similarly, Noeleen Kleve see’s the mountain as a safe haven to escape the constraints of the urban lifestyle. Noeleen continues to explain that engaging with the mountain is a means to reconnect with the self as well as to foster and/or strengthen a spiritual connection with the intangible.
Mountains are understood by most of the artists included in this collection as keeper’s of history and time. Urban Ranger explains that history is etched into the very rock of mountains and that it would be impossible to tell the story of people, in particular from Cape Town, without including the mountain. Janet Botes further describes mountains as formations that provide a geological timescale. It is a tool we use to understand our history, the environment and ourselves. According to Marie-Adele de Villiers, mountains are a paradox; they play the role of consistent grandparents but also an ever-changing formation. As a natural embodiment of time they are the keepers of all that has gone before and will evolve into being.
That being said, most of the participating artists attribute their evolving consciousness to the evolving state of mountain formations. Many of the artists reference the mountain as an escape from the everyday and a tool assisting in shifting perspective. Mountains are key to mankind understanding themselves. Bettie Coetzee Lambrecht maintains that mountains are powerful formations with underlying vulnerabilities that take the form of erosion. This is not dissimilar to the underlying weaknesses of humans. Mountains in effect remind mankind of it’s own temporality. In turn, mountains accept their destruction as a means to create. Creation in this sense refers to both the Earth and to what these artists have achieved.
1 Fraim, J. (2001) Symbolism of Place. Retrieved from http://www.symbolism.org
2 Fraim, J. (2001) Symbolism of Place. Retrieved from http://www.symbolism.org