Last year, The City of Cape Town launched art54, a public art program that offers artists the unique opportunity to install and display their work along the stunning and well-frequented landscape of the Sea Point Promenade. This year’s call for proposal  saw roughly 120 submissions, with 11 artists selected.

One of the artists, Andre Carl, conceptualized an installation, entitled Rhinosaur, that speaks to the fragility of the rhino population in Sub-sharan Africa. He took the time to speak to Future Cape Town about the evolution of his work and its powerful message.

Image through the viewfinder of Andre Carl's installation on the Sea Point Promenade (photo courtesy of Anna Brown)

Looking through the viewfinder of the installation, which, creates the sense that the viewer is looking through the crosshairs of a rifle (photo courtesy of Anna Brown)

Anna Brown: What is the concept behind this piece?

Andre Carl:  The installation takes the idea of a three dimensional animal, and when you look through the viewing platform, it becomes a one dimensional image. It centers around this idea that the three dimensional animal may be lost due to poaching, and a flat, one dimensional image may be the only way that we remember the rhino.

The viewer of the installation approaches the viewing platform on a ramp where they see the statistics of the last ten years of rhino slaughter, which show how exponential the growth has been in poaching. On the flat part of the viewing platform we’ve got the months of the year, and next year we will be updating the poaching statistics of each month. If we updated this part of the sculpture on a monthly basis, it shows people that this is an ongoing present problem. The idea is that these statistics are not to be viewed as history.

AB: How did you get involved in this cause?

AC: I love expedition travel in South Africa. I think the biggest luxury in the world is to be in a space where there is no people. I love to see wildlife in their natural environment. We are lucky in Southern Africa because there are still a lot of places like that, where you can engage in wildlife.

We are highlighting and recognizing the rhino because it is an iconic species, but thousands of species go extinct on a yearly basis, probably even more important to the sustainability of the planet than the rhino is. But its interesting to note, or rather to observe, that if somebody cannot care about a rhino, how are they going to care about a lizard or an insect?

AB: How did this project begin and evolve?

AC: First of all, I created the concept for this installation, but a lot of people have helped with this project and are involved. An architect named Anton de Kock used a computer program to create the layout. A friend of mine with a truck and staff built the initial sculpture, which was made out of timber for AfrikaBurn. That one was made out of laminated wood, so that when it burned it created this beautiful outline.

Now, the project that was accepted for art54 is not completely funded, so my good friend had to underwrite the metal sculpture for R160,000. He told me not to worry, and that we would find someone who would want to buy the sculpture. Luckily, Woolworths bought the sculpture. They recognized that it was a great opportunity to have great presence in an amazing public space.

AB: How is the outreach of the piece on the Sea Point Promenade different than that of AfrikaBurn?

AC: The work is is much more important where it is now. At AfrikaBurn, you are preaching to the converted. Now we are engaging thousands of people from all different backgrounds. Even while we were busy setting it up, there was a queue of people waiting to see the sculpture on the platform.

Click to view slideshow.

For more information on art54, visit the project’s site here.

Future Cape Town’s past coverage of art54: 

An art gallery for all? Signature public art project launches on the Sea Point Promenade