Saturday, July 3, 2010

Australian sculptor Andrew Rogers ‘land art’ project in Cappadocia

Nothing beats spring. And there is no shortage of reasons to go to Cappadocia. Nature, history, legend, and now art...

The stones were passed from hand to hand for months. The local people joined in with genuine enthusiasm. Whole families, young and old, men and women alike. Each one  involved in one way or another for the Turkey leg of Australian sculptor Andrew Rogers’ ‘land art’ project, which he calls ‘Rhythms of Life’.

Two hundred and thirty people worked on the project, which got under way in the village of Karadağ near Nevşehir province’s town of Göreme in 2007 and was completed in mid-2009. The result, sculptures so big that they can be seen even from outer space. The first of the giant sculptures, dubbed ‘Rhythms of Life’,  is the same as those in other parts of the world.  In its wake came more sculptures befitting ‘land of beautiful horses’ Cappadocia: Horse, Cybele, Threshing Stone, Angel-faced Bird, Tree of Life, Double Lion with Single Head, Stone Age, and First Temple.

And now the time has come for the delayed opening. May 29th has been designated as opening day for the open-air exhibition of eight giant sculptures titled ‘Time and Space’. Besides music and dance shows, the Borusan Orchestra will be giving a concert at the opening, which is expected to create a veritable festival atmosphere with the participation of the local folk. The opening’s biggest surprise is the commencement of construction on an amphitheater out of stones totaling 100 tons in weight.

‘Time and Space’ is tipped to be one of the largest exhibitions of contemporary art in the world. The eight giant sculptures, fashioned one by one by hand with the support of the local population, are two kilometers apart. All of them are visible from a height of 450 kilometers, in other words, from outer space.  Art lovers from around the world have already started gathering in Cappadocia to view the sculptures, which were made using some 11 thousand tons of stone. Indeed, operators of balloon tours over the region have already altered their route with these visitors in mind.

Andrew Rogers is an Australian sculptor who is leaving his mark all over the world on a colossal scale, seemingly just so space aliens will take notice. The artist has left sculptures visible from outer space in 12 different regions of the world as part of his project, ‘Rhythms of Life’, which he embarked on ten years ago.

‘Rhythms of Life’ has been constructed in twelve different parts of the world so far: Israel’s Arava Desert, Chile’s Atacama Desert, the Bolivian Altiplano, Sri Lanka’s Krunegala district, Australia’s Geelong region, North Iceland’s capital Akureyri, and China’s Gobi Desert. The artist, who has left more than one sculpture in each region, points out that he has incorporated into his sculptures the symbols and legends of the cultures of the countries to which he has traveled to fashion his works. Another of Rogers’ practices is to work with the local people. The artist has worked up to now with close to five thousand people on some forty sculptures in 12 parts of the world.

Besides the human labor involved in producing these colossal works, which are known in art dictionaries as ‘geoglyphs’ or ‘earth sculptures’, the artist also employs natural materials. Rogers, who usually works in vast arid landscapes of desert or melting glaciers, believes that his works help to reinforce sensitivity to global warming.

Rising to 10 meters in height, the sculptures in Cappadocia are among Rogers’ most recent. The artist says he was impressed by the natural beauty of the Cappadocia region, which he visited 27 years ago, and therefore wanted to work here. Giving considerable importance to the historical texture in the regions where he works, he also takes pains to represent the unique qualities of the local people in his creations. “It is important to me,” explains Rogers’, “that the stones I use in my sculptures belong to the region. There is a thread of life running from past to present in the lands in which we live, and we are obligated to take that life into consideration and to preserve its existing values. We owe this to future generations.

”Rogers, who says that humans beings have gotten away from nature with advances in technology, points out what difficult work it is to construct shapes out of stone and adds: “The value of the sculpture is enhanced when the local people who own these lands are involved in the work. For each of these sculptures functions as a bridge between their past and their future. Everything is connected to everything else. Even in our future knowledge we carry a part of the past.”

Kenya is Andrew Rogers’ next stop after Cappadocia. The artist is already getting ready to gift a giant lion to Kenya

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