THE CONCEPTUAL AND PRACTICAL REALISATION OF A CORPORATE ART COMMISSION: SUSAN WOOLF

Updated: Sep 23, 2019

Balance is duality in motion (Kruger 2001: In conversation).

The Mobile City created by architects Lewis Levin, Paul Cawood and myself, an artist, is suspended from the roof of Absa Towers North in Johannesburg City.


AIMS

This research project examines, through the design and realisation of a 2.5ton kinetic aluminium sculpture, two different but interrelated subjects. The information it provides will be useful to artists, educators and people from other disciplines.


It examines:

· The practical realisation of the mobile, including the collaborative and interdisciplinary nature of the project from inception to completion.

· The conceptual aspect in the design of the Mobile City sculpture.

The practical aspect of fabricating an artwork of this size involved issues normally outside the area of private artistic practice., such as collaboration with project managers and Absa management, contracts and insurance, schedules, progress reports, meetings and matters regarding working relationships between art and business. In addition this research examines art competitions, the status quo regarding sponsorship of the arts in South Africa and abroad, and the implications and advantages of undertaking such a project.


METHODOLOGY

Research for completing this art project is detailed sequentially.

· Corporate research included: corporate art competitions, sponsorship of the arts, interdisciplinary collaboration involving structural engineers, mechanical engineers and fabricators. This research underscored the aspect of collaboration and the benefit of a multidisciplinary approach, contractual and corporate matters. This involved examining aspects of the Absa contract, based on The New Engineering Contract (NEC) presented to us, and included insurance and financial issues.

· Research was based on the design and construction of the first steel maquette submitted for the competition. This included gathering architectural and historical information on buildings in Johannesburg City, overviews of the city centre and information and structural drawings of gold mines in Johannesburg. In the mobile Johannesburg’s past and present buildings became a vehicle for time and memory.

· Relevant scientific theories were investigated. They relate to thematic issues of time, space, memory, light, motion and balance, represented in the Mobile City and in other artworks. Genetic information and scientific theories are researched because they appear to correspond directly to the idea of a city’s evolution and correlates with movement and time in the mobile. The concept of time was used as it can be experienced or debated, not as an academic study.


The project involved the process of creating the Mobile City, from the initial stages in January 1998 through to its completion at the end of 1999. The final process of the fabrication included the motorisation of the Mobile City and entrance into the Absa building over the roof with a hydraulic crane, described when detailing the final installation of the Mobile City sculpture.


OUTCOMES

The problems encountered during the research process included a lack of information on literature specific to the process of corporate art projects that present information