Environmental artworks in the public domain can quickly fall into the realm of personal legend. While standing beside Diamond Mines, for the first time since it was completed in 2011, I overheard a visitor from Germany say that she first saw it in 2002 and that it had already been there for some number of years before then. Being the artist, I could have corrected her impression of its age with some authority, but that would have disrupted the experience that she and her friends were having, which was more to the point of the artwork than any single detail of its construction. One of the best qualities of art in the outdoors is its ability to be endlessly personalized. Each new viewer makes it their own and every return visitor reestablishes their claim to it.
For me, the piece had grown smaller, or the space around it, larger, in the time I’d been away. It was in pretty good condition considering its isolated location with no real monitoring or supervision. From along the top edges, stones had been dislodged and lay on the carpet of dry leaves that had built up on the floors of the cells. I felt for its vulnerability, but was reassured by its durability.
Like the woman visitor from Germany, I struggled with the passage of time in relation to the artwork. I could have built it months ago or decades ago. A lot has happened since creating the piece, plus, many free stone works were constructed before its time. They all slip and slide around in my memory in no particular order or relationship to one another. Unless I make a concerted effort to establish the year that any past work was built I’m really only guessing. I’d like to blame my poor memory on the stone, because calendar years are immaterial to the material. Stone has circled the sun many more times than humans have been on earth counting the trips.
It was wonderful to reconnect with artist Alfio Bonanno and his wife Lone on this recent Denmark visit. He continues to care for the cause that TICKON (Tranekaer International Centre for Art and Nature) represents, and makes splendid environmental artworks all around the globe. The Hansens of Svendborg (all 20+ of them) are the best family a nephew/cousin-in-law could have. Thank you Birgit and Lars!