© 2019 Site Design and Maintenance by ORGANIC IDENTITY. WILLEM BOSHOFF ARTIST

1996

Pebbles collected in an itinerant manner from the nine provinces of South Africa
Size: 3000mm X 2000mm
Gencor (now Billiton) head-office building, Johannesburg

Psephos

  • The nine panels of pebbles in the foyer to the GENCOR auditorium are entitled PSEPHOS. The ancient Greeks cast small round stones, called psephos, in a large ceramic jar to register their vote. Today, the science of voting as a democratic process is called psephology. David knew the awesome power of these small stones. He used them in his slingshot to slay bears, lions and the mighty Goliath. To the Romans, the small pebble was a calculus. They used it to perform mathematical sums. Today, we still use the calculator.

     

    In this work of art, carefully selected pebbles are presented as a metaphor. On the one hand, it stands for Gencor's mandate as one of the prominent custodians of Southern African mineral wealth, and on the other, of the democratic process that functions as a catalyst whereby all people realise their own dependency on and control of that wealth. The project wishes to confirm a respect for the necessity of a healthy autochthonous life that is the life of the children of the South African soil.

    Each panel represents one of the nine new provinces of the fully democratic South Africa. On 27 April, 1994, all the residents of South Africa went to the polling station for the first time to vote in the nine new provinces. To celebrate these elections, the artist Willem Boshoff fetched two bags with two differently coloured small pebbles from each of the provinces. Instead of placing them in ancient urns, they were placed behind glass in boxes, resembling the modern ballot box. The pebbles are composed in the sign of the voter's cross. The work was installed in time for the inception of this building in June 1995.

     

    The names of the provinces at the time of the elections in 1994, the pebbles and their locations are reflected in this diagram. The relative positions of the blocks are as they appear in the artwork. The first reference indicates the pebbles in the cross and the second, the pebbles in the background.

     

    THE NINE NEW PROVINCES
    Note that the names are as they were in South Africa at the time of the first democratic elections.

     

    1. NORTHERN CAPE
    Barkley West
    Postmasburg

    2. NORTH WEST
    Schweitzer Reinecke
    Bakerville diggings

    3. NORTHERN TRANSVAAL
    Mopane south of Messina
    The Limpopo valley near Ellisras

    4. ORANGE FREE STATE
    Harrismith near the Sterkfontein Dam
    Aliwal North on the Free State side of the Orange river

    5. TRANSVAAL (Gauteng of today)
    Johannesburg hills
    Pelindaba hills

    6. EASTERN TRANSVAAL (Today's Mpumalanga)
    The Lowveld Botanical Garden, Nelspruit
    The Blyde River at Vaalhoek, Bourkes Luck

    7. WESTERN CAPE
    The beach at Cape Augulhas
    The Hex River valley at Jonkershoek, Worcester

    8. EASTERN CAPE
    Beach at East London
    Beach at Umgazi river mouth, Port St Johns

    9. KWA-ZULU NATAL
    The Pongola River near Pongola
    Winterton, near the Tugela River