2012

3765 mm (w) X 1825 mm (h)

List of  words

Two shades of sand from the town of Darling, Western Cape province; plywood, wood glue, wood stainer

Assistant: Andrew Munnik

Collection: Eduard Haumann

Platter Rooster

  • In May, 2011 I  visited Stellenbosch to discuss the envisaged Twenty exhibition with Baylon Sandri. I am (painfully) aware of the squabble over Afrikaans as a language of prerogative at Stellenbosch University and I proposed an artwork consisting of one word that makes some sense in both the English and Afrikaans languages, but of which the meanings in the two languages differ significantly. That work was BOOM. I envisaged this work to be a nice big gabeon wall (a thick wall made up of stones stacked in wire baskets) in which two different coloured stones would be so stacked as to spell out the word boom on both sides of the wall. The wall would be placed in Jonkershoek, a get-away nature reserve where romantic couples often enjoy sanctuary in the shadows of large trees and the spellbinding vistas of mountain cliffs. The wall had to be large and inviting enough for the amorous to steal kisses behind. The word boom, in English, is rather onomatopoeic and spells out the noise of exploding bombs, as in the big boom! In Russian boom! is an accepted toast like cheers! – celebration laid on thick! In a more sedate sense, boom is also ‘barrier’, a kind of bar usually pivoted to go up and down to let traffic through. In Afrikaans boom is ‘tree’ a word that would confirm my life-long interest in and respect for nature. I have tried very hard to learn the names of all the plants in the area and I am not doing too badly. Boom, however, has another, far more stress-free meaning in Afrikaans. To the unperturbed it spells out marijuana (Cannabis sativa), also called dagga, pot and hashish. The more easygoing students would immediately chuckle at this usage and might even be tempted to slink behind the boom wall for a whiff or two of the beleagured stuff. I wanted the work to poke some light-hearted fun at the obsessive linguistic preoccupation of the frantic local Afrikaans academic fraternity. It would clearly satisfy them on one level and most certainly raise eyebrows on another. Unfortunately, or is it fortunately, I never got around to make the work and another, already existing work was chosen in its place. There is every reason why, given the logistics can be put in place, I should still make BOOM in Jonkershoek.

     

    The idea that