GRASKOP – After more than six months in this town, Bloch, a global multidisciplinary art project, has finished its tour of South Africa and will be on its way to the next continent and adventure shortly.
A special farewell will be held at the gallery opposite the Graskop Hotel on Monday January 15 from 17:00 to 20:00 where the South African project coordinator, Roger Gentinetta will also be present. This unique multidisciplinary, interactive initiative comprises a large tree trunk which is connected to an ancient carnival tradition from the Swiss region of Appenzell.
When the last spruce tree is felled early in winter, its trunk – known as Bloch – is dragged by 20 men from the village of Urnäsch to Herisau and back. At the end of this one-day procession, the trunk is sold to the highest bidder at an auction.
In 2011 the Swiss artist duo Com Com (Marcus Gossolt and Johannes M Hedinger) bought it and started the new project. “Our goal is to develop a new Bloch custom based on local traditions at each station.
In the process the original custom and its meaning will change, enter into dialogue with foreign cultures and people, mix with new elements and be reinterpreted,” they said. “At every stage of the journey, something completely new will emerge.
This art event will be accompanied by discussions and other cultural and social events as well as individual artworks, short films and a website.”
Since 2012 Bloch, the five-meter-long tree trunk weighing two ton, travelled the world, stopping on every continent where it connected artists and folk cultures to create a broadened grasp of art and culture.
After stays in Europe (among others in Bern, Basel, Berlin, Karlsruhe, St Gallen, Zagreb and Zurich), Asia (Shanghai, Hong Kong, Taipei and Singapore) and North America (North Dakota, Minnesota, Cincinnati, New York and Canada), Africa was the fourth continent Bloch visited.
This year it will head for South America and in 2019 Australia. It is expected to return to Switzerland in 2020.
Bloch arrived from New York in Cape Town in February.
It sported appearances at the Wood Conference in Cape Town, resided at the department of fine arts at the department of visual arts at the University of Johannesburg, made an appearance at the KKNK Festival in Oudtshoorn and travelled the Little Karoo before heading back to Johannesburg and Soweto.
In a third journey, Bloch came to Mbombela and Graskop, where it was on show as part of the Modern Art Project (MAP).
MAP was started by Harrie Siertsema and Abrie Fourie in 2005 as a series of site-specific art events, collaborations and exhibitions. MAP venues are not only traditional art spaces, but include public venues, such as contemporary pancake eateries and hotel rooms, where art is brought into the sphere of life.
MAP’s main objective is to offer younger artists a platform to show and/or perform their work. Each exhibition is accompanied by a small publication, providing visitors with some background and insight into the current art on display, helping to facilitate a visitor’s encounter with images and art objects.