of Moribund Collections
Sculpture Park near Kaikoura, Aotearoa/New Zealand
is nothing beautiful in nature."
must confess to some difficulty at first in defining and categorising
this expanse of artwork. Initially it was difficult to decide which
office might report on the outdoor sculpture zone on the main road
from Picton to Christchurch. On highway Number 1, one passes by
a number of attractions including a seal colony, a mountain range
(the Kaikouras), a consequential golf ball, a substantial salmon
and the town ship of Kaikoura, home of the whale watch and a convincing
UFO sighting during the 1970s. This stretch of road has something
untitled sculpture "park" is an interesting twist on the
concept of public art because here, anonymous members of the untrained
public create the art. The standard of creative activity in this
area and the fact that one views the work as if one was in a gallery,
however, qualifies the park as a moribund collection. And a more
moribund collection would be difficult to find. Suffice it to say
that all definitions in respect of what is art and what constitutes
a gallery are seriously undermined and hence the plethora of inverted
commas in this report.
is the ultimate democratic public art space. Environmental artworks
are continually created by passers by in an expanse of rocks fronting
a particularly rough patch of ocean. Although it is sometimes difficult
to distinguish between art and nature, it is clear that many of
the art works are such that they could not have been created by
natural forces alone. Here a pile of rocks or a swastika imitate
high art while flirting courageously with the infinite and the immeasurable.
Like Caspar David Friedrich these "artists" have discovered
"tragedy in the landscape".
must draw the readers attention to two exemplarary works, where
artists have eschewed the notion of placing one rock on top of another
and calling it art. The graffiti like swastika painted prominently
on a rock is the work of slothful neo Nazis, no doubt on their way
to or from Christchurch where they had achieved considerable notoriety
for setting a popular sea lion on fire near the New Brighton Pier.
(The legendary sea lion has since reeked revenge by terrorising
the town of Gisborne) This particular work seems to represent the
lack of imagination one finds among members of a group whose creativity
is largely directed to acts of cruelty and methods of execution.
The question that arises of course is, is it art or politics, or
is it either ? The viewer, naturally, must decide for themselves.
Notice the passing Kingswood with surfboard, an oblique reference
to the classic cult movie "Surf Nazis must die".
more interesting work perhaps is "Untitled seaweed" where
we see a piece of seaweed decorated with pipe cleaners and a bright
blue feather. Although this piece would probably not last beyond
the first high tide it is a satisfying work that attempts and fails
the natural and the manufactured. This is indicative of just how
vexatious the issue of reconciliation can be. The dyed blue feather
is an evocation of "mans struggle against nature"
and celebrates an ability to interfere or tamper with nature at
will. This is/was a challenging work indeed that calls to question
the difficult definitions of Classical and Romantic landscape while
providing a counterpoint to Rousseaus view that "sentiment
counts for more than reason".