Published on Thursday, the 20th of January, 2011
And so castles made
of sand fall in the sea, eventually
, these are the lyrics sung by Jimi Hendrix in 1967 when sitting on the ‘70s audio psychedelic carpet.
At least forty years have passed by since sand, free of charge and in small quantities, has become the favourite material for many artists. What's more, the use of sand for re-creative purposes is environmentally correct. Unfortunately, "Sand Art
" as a category is used to describe a diverse set of technical and artistic operations. An undefined and imprecise label that, by virtue of the material used, ends up lumping together our childhood experiments swept away by the sea with the work of several great personalities dealing with experimental animation.
The twentieth century has not produced any essay on the techniques of building with sand, but there are a few tips that all "summer artists
" should follow: to choose a day with little wind, stay away from the tide and again, always use a mixture made up of eight parts of dry sand for one part of water. Each year American beaches of Virginia Beach are filled up with contestants trying to win the top prize, often to be awarded to scrupulous John Goudy
In some cases, hyper-realistic competition sculptures are sprayed with a fixative glaze before being screened by the jury: it is perfect kitsch apotheosis at its most gleefully, served with a pinch of anti-romanticism. In any case, we are very far from the artistic sensibilities that had helped to clear the Land Art in the 70s.
Perhaps the only exception is represented by Yankee sculptor Gerry Augustine Lynas
, author of large format compositions realized by compacting the sand with daily objects, i.e. his inseparable frisbee. Sculptures by Augustine Lynas represent imaginary faces and places standing as ephemeral symbols of a made-up ancient civilization, victims of wind and tide erosion. The romantic acceptation of his works’ destruction make his effort conceptually closer to Dutch Jan Dibbets
’ beach project "6 Hours Tide Object with Correction of Perspective
" included in the first recorded historical anthology of Land Art compiled by Gerry Schum in 1969. Dibbets intervention, revived last year on the Rotterdam coast for the Portscapes project, consisted of a giant trapezoid drawn in the sand with a bulldozer and corrected with the camera’s eye to make it look like a square.
Animated or manipulated by a director before the public, the sand continues to offer its best on a light table. Before turning to animation painting on glass, Caroline Leaf
made several pioneering short films such as The Owl Who Married a Goose
(1974), adapted from an Eskimo legend dedicated to the solitude of an owl being too old to migrate with his children.
Le chateau de sable (1977)
by Co Hoedeman
, realized by mixing sand with claymation
techniques, is the first work enjoying an international TV broadcasting. There is also Polish artist, Aleksandra Korejwo,
author of music videos prepared using a mix of coloured sand and salt. In her Carmen
interpretation, Korejwo staged a frantic show by employing ever-changing forms just like in a phantasmagoria
typical of early days cinema.
On another side are the works of artists that truly surprise audiences with sand live animation. Here is Hungarian guru Ferenc Cako
, Israeli Ilana Yahav
, who is also the author of a social campaign by Enel, Ukranian Kseniya Simonova
, popular for a reconstruction of the Nazi occupation in his country. All these names work with the same perspective as the Victorian lightning sketch
authors, who "animated" a piece of paper by quickly tracing drawings before the public.