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Sand, wood

1290 mm X 1290 mm

Exhibited as part of an exhibition called Terra Nullius

Curator: Elfriede Dreyer at Fried Contemporary Gallery, Pretoria

Nett. amount due to artist R35,000-00

Land Grab

  • Land ownership is a fiction. Those who own land believe they have total say-so and exclusive rights. It is also really difficult to explain their folly to them – after all they have signed papers.


    So-called Christians are keen to quote Psalm 24:1: “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” This, they believe, makes them the crown of creation, and entitles them to govern and organize, to subject all of the rest to their own needs. Capitalism seems to have its foundations in Christianity more than in any other way of thinking. The so-called custodians are are hell-bent on turning resources into profit, creating doomsday factories that blacken the sky. They tend to indulge in a self-centered life-style that either depletes or contaminates the ground. We are no longer capable of seeing fish or animals, we see food; we no longer see soil, we see natural resources. As champion capitalists we reorganize and exploit ‘God’s earth’ to the extent that we have become entangled in issues of global warming, greenhouse emissions and extinction.


    In my work, I look at how an unspoilt, uninhabited earth might potentially be forcefully converted into a futuristic city; how the natural landscape might be reconstituted into rectilinear human constructs and mechanisms. When we look at a barren terrain we fail to see the resident life on it and we do not recognize any claims by the rest of creation. We engineer it all in service of our own industrial schemes and materialistic contrivances. With this we are keen to explain away culpability and error on our part. We are in the right and no-one can holds us accountable.


    I have surreptitiously introduced four letters into my chopped-up land. One has to look carefully to see the letters G R A and B. They are the ‘fine print’ conformed to our way of doing things. The dream we grabbed was not ours to grab in the first place.


    Willem Boshoff

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