First feature documentary on land art in the southern hemisphere to be released early 2022

Published Dec 24, 2021


CAPE Town production house CineSouth Studios has revealed the first preview of its upcoming documentary feature film, Sculpting This Earth.

It was shot over a year and includes a striking range of cinematic natural settings in South Africa. The documentary showcases the work of land artist Strijdom van der Merwe.

The process of land art involves making artworks in nature, using natural materials found at the location where it is created.

CineSouth Studios chief executive and Sculpting This Earth director Victor van Aswegen said worldwide land art has existed for more than half a century.

“Only a handful of documentary feature films have been made about it, all of these deal with the work of artists in the northern hemisphere," he said.

Van der Merwe’s work is prolific internationally as he has made land artworks by invitation in more than 20 countries, among them Australia, Japan, Denmark, the Netherlands and the US.

Sculpting This Earth was given its title by referencing two of Van der Merwe’s books that contain images of his work. The first book, Sculpting the Land, was published in 2005 and the second, Sculpting The Earth, in 2011.

CineSouth studios said “this earth” in the title referred to South African land.

Although Van der Merwe creates art internationally, the film showcases work in his country of origin – South Africa.

The artist, who originally hails from Johannesburg, said he was connected to the land.

“This is where I am rooted. I have personal, emotional and artistic connections here, in a land rich in ancient markings,” he said.

“Those ancient markings in the landscape were left by early human inhabitants.”

Strijdom van der Merwe’s work has been displayed internationally in more than 20 countries. Picture: Supplied

Sculpting This Earth will look at Van der Merwe creating land artwork over four seasons, using sticks, stones, leaves, rocks, grass, feather, bamboo and water. In some cases, he uses only sand, soil and stones.

Van Aswegen said they want to offer viewers a film set entirely outdoors, far from a built environment.

“There is a sense of reconnection to nature and the natural world at a time when many people globally feel cut off from nature,” he said.

“There is a widespread and growing realisation that the natural world is under threat and in many places in rapid and terminal decline.

“The art speaks a deeply universal human language, transcending all boundaries of country and culture, moving people with meaning and emotion, regardless of where they are on the planet," added Van Aswegen.

Sculpting This Earth is scheduled for international release early next year.

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