The Organism, the brainchild of Anthea Delmotte, was a structure built at this years Afrikaburn by Anthea, Byron Ramsey, Jurgen Van Schalkwyk and myself. The building process took a total of 8 full days of hard, physical labour. The Organism was built as a collaborative performance space for the band CROAK and the artist Anthea Delmotte. The project, known as "CROAK and The Pythian Painter", involves the use of CROAKs live music as a way to translate art onto a huge canvas through the use of transcendental dance. Aka, Anthea paints a huge artwork while dancing to our music. The shows took place every day just before sunset. The structure was burnt down on Saturday the 2nd of May while the performance took place.
Read more about the Organism in a short paper presented by Dr John Steele at the 9th National Conference of the South African Journal of Art History: SITUATED EXPERIENCE, 28th and 29th August 2015, at the University of the Free State, Bloemfontein.
The date of our arrival at Afrikaburn was the 18th of April. My birthday. We had spent a full day prior to our trip to the Burn packing two cars, one Toyota flatbed, and a trailer, to the brim with all our building material. I had this lovely fantasy in my head of spending my birthday unpacking the vehicles and setting up a little camp that we would be staying in for 18 days. Little did we know we would spend the entire day lost in the desert. By the time we reached the Burn, I was totally burnt out. I kept asking myself how on earth I was going to survive this. I walked to the outer limits of the Burns boundaries and started shouting at the sky. Not even 2 hours at the burn and I was already losing my mind! It was my fantastic companions, Byron, Jc and Anthea, that brought me back to my senses. The hum of their low conversation and the silence of nowhere sent me to a restfull sleep that night.
The next day we got up bright and early, ready for the big build that lay ahead of us. Wow. What on earth did we get ourselves into?! Hard, physical labour. That is all I can say. Unfortunately Byron had to leave us on day 3 already. So there we were, Anthea, Jc and I, destined to build a 21 meter by 4 and a half meter structure all by ourselves. We worked like slaves in the sun. Day in and day out. It tested all our strength in every possible way. I learnt how to use almost every power tool known to man. The most challenging part of it must have been to erect the poles. We had to dig out 30 cm holes using a tool straight from the stone age. When the tool hit a solid surface, one had to sit down and chizzle and hammer your way through 3 centimetres of rock. I still have a clear image in my mind of Jc, with a scarf around his head and cap ontop, sitting on the Tankwa floor hammering away. As the scorching days past, I started noticing the distinct colour changes of my companions, Jc now resembled some form of a mexican/spanish refugee and Anthea some form of a malenesian blonde. I was stuck with two of the most dedicated workers on this planet earth.
"And on the seventh day" we recieved the God sent angels known as "Art Sluts" from above. I felt like I was at an auction, Werner "met die rooi baard" (pretty much the pimp of the posse) assigned his sluts to the artworks that needed attendace. And bleddie hel.. we needed it! The last day we had to hoist the bird ontop of the structure using three cars and alot.. of sluts. By the 8th day we were ready to perform.
The performances were exceptional. Performing infront of a truly captivated audience... one that appreciated the energy and artistic value that is put into such a work. If I could I would thank each and every individual that attended our performances Afrikaburn. There are few places in this world where one can find an audience with as much passion, respect and enthusiasm. I could truly talk to these people, and I felt no shame in expressing myself and exposing my music to them. The last day of our performance was by far the greatest. We set our stages up a few metres away from the structure. I still remember the sting of the flames licking the back of my legs as I shouted my songs into the desert sky. The smell of burning wood and cardboard tickling my nose. The site of all those people, worshipping our art and effort being sacrificed to the Tankwa God.