Willem Boshoff is predominantly a conceptual artist, his art is about communicating ideas. As such, Boshoff’s rejection of divisive ethnocentric values, along with the meta-narratives and absolutist tendencies that privilege, often violently, one group over another, is not limited to a South African context and has expanded to include religious fundamentalism and dogma, capitalist globalisation, American imperialism and nuclear warfare.
He writes thus of his work in the Cradle: “On a quiet night, a long time ago, a dreadful rock as bigger than Table Mountain shot out of the sky into the Free State countryside near the town of Vredefort. Imagine Table Mountain at about ten kilometres wide zapping down like a flash of lightning. The 750 million tonnes of this terrible lump hit the ground at 20,000 metres per second. The fastest ever bullet to come from a hand-held rifle was measured only at 1,220 metres per second. The Vredefort rock clocked in at seven times the speed of sound – the largest, insanely fastest thing ever to blast into planet earth.
This rock, or better put, ‘asteroid’, smashed the earth so hard it buried itself seventeen kilometres under the ground. What is left of it is now lying there undetected in a dark, still grave. Ironically, the deepest digging on earth is only 75 kilometres, as the crow flies, from where the asteroid lies, at Western Deep Levels goldmine near Carletonville. With the most advanced technology the miners have reached a depth of 3.8 kilometres. Temperatures at that depth are so high, progress is only made by the extensive use of ice.
In 1999 this enigmatic area where the hominid fossils were found was proclaimed a UNESCO world heritage site under the name of “Cradle of Humankind” and eight years later, in 2007, I spent nearly four months at the NIROX artists’ residency in Kromdraai, planning my CHILDREN OF THE STARS as a series of artworks to be placed in the Cradle area. I wanted to make several large black stones that look as if they had fallen out of the night skies.”
CHILDREN OF THE STARS is made up of a number of stones placed at strategic positions within the landscape of the Cradle of Humankind. Each stone is sandblasted with a few lines of the Babel text to include languages from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. English as ligua franca of Southern Africa features on every stone – except Calculus Moo. The story-line I have chosen from the myth of Babel reads as follows in archaic English:
“Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.”
Note: In keeping with his (Boshoff) perennial philosophy and discipline, Children of the Stars is an artifact that expresses a worldcentric consciousness by honouring our multiplicity as well as our oneness.