12 September 2010

Rock Balancing – Making a Splash with Stone

Peter Riedel’s art never lasts long – but that is partly the point.  He creates impermanent art from permanent parts of the landscape and these sculptures, in their very transience almost contradict the comparative eternalness of most art. Caught by the camera, they are, however, lent a form of immortality through digital means.

The Canadian photographer spends much of his time balancing rocks alongside rivers, lakes and the sea and then taking pictures of them as, for sure, were he to return the next day nature would quite possibly have done her work and changed the landscape.

Riedel comes and goes with little fuss.  Often the only evidence that he has been somewhere is the precariously balanced rock sculptures which appear as if they have been teleported down by James T and his crew.

What is perhaps the most astonishing thing about Riedel’s sculptures is that there is no glue or adhesive uses at all.  The artist uses a combination of trial and error and experience, using the natural center of gravity and balance to create his impossible looking sculptures.

An installation will typically take him about four hours and so it is possible to catch him in the act, depending on its size.  The secret, so he has maintained, is finding the right rocks with the right surface and good footing. Algae and other natural slime are wiped off a stone it is added to a sculpture.  Occasionally the artist will lend a further hand by grinding down the flat part of a stone if it needs a little extra assistance in its temporary balancing act.

If you are very lucky, you may just get to see the artist in action.

The artist sees his work as a demonstration of the precarious nature of life.  At one point you think that you are in control and then things can collapse – spectacularly and with no given warning.  Anyone over the age of six will probably find that a familiar occurrence!

He also maintains that the energy and concentration needed to create his sculptures are a marvellous way to clear the head of life’s daily pressures and to focus on a single, transient but at the time all important activity. In terms of audience, there is no set time or gallery address to follow.

Most people find Riedel’s work by accident and that is all part of the art – and the fun.  By giving people a sense of mystery about his art, which has an intriguing air of playfulness about it (as if giants had been at play with pebbles perhaps) Peter Riedel without doubt leaves a smile on many a face too.

A typical sculpture will last about three days before nature has her way and it collapses.  However, that does not necessarily signal the end. After all, once a stone falls in to the water with a splash, does it not become a clean slate, meaning that the act of creation can happen all over again?

Kuriositas would like to thank Flickr User la boo for her very kind permission to use these pictures.  Please visit her Photstream at Flickr.