ABSORBTION BY ASAD RAZA : A JOHN KALDOR PUBLIC ART PROJECT

With this exhibition John Kaldor celebrates 50 years of sponsoring Public Art Projects.

It has been five decades since Christo and his partner Jeanne-Claude swathed the Little Bay coastline in kilometres of plastic. I had the privilege of traversing that alien and compelling landscape all those years ago.

Over the jubilee year other Public Projects will be presented and on the 7th September, 2019 through to 16th February 2020 all 34 Projects since 1969 will be commemorated in an exhibition entitled Making Art Public at the Art  Gallery of New South Wales.

ABSORPTION was held in the Carriageworks precinct in a space separated  from the main building entitled the Clothing Store which presumably it once was.

Asad wishes to bring to prominence the very thing that nurtures us by using almost 300 tonnes of inorganic material including sand, silt, clay, lime, spent grain, phosphate, cuttlebone, legumes, coffee and green waste combined in a new soil mixture called neo soil.

Part of this exhibition is the sensual experience of feeling the contours of this dirt landscape beneath one’s feet. In order to keep the contours dynamic there are volunteer gardeners who rake, dig and water the soil together with a team of people using wheelbarrows to take away and replenish the soil.

However it was even more startling, as a result of a collaboration with the Institute of Agriculture students from the University of Sydney who brought with them  listening devices to ‘eavesdrop’ on the soil. Through my headphones it was amazing to hear the sounds emitted from dry and wet soil. The dry soil sounded like an incredibly fast heartbeat whilst the wet soil sounded like a John Cage atonal  symphony.

Volunteers could assist the other gardeners in raking and digging. Paper bags were on hand so that you could take a portion of the soil, or rather should I say a work of art, home.

Featured pic John Kaldor and Melissa.. Pics by Ben Apfelbaum.

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