Site-specific works


To rent: Remains of the cash cow (2013)

Project: KADS 2
Location: Zeilstraat, Amsterdam
Work: to rent: remains of the cash cow (2013)

KadS 2013 [KUNST AAN DE SCHINKEL/ART ALONG THE SCHINKEL] A cultural festival in Amsterdam

22 Sep – 17 Nov 2013
This autumn Soledad Senlle Art Foundation will be holding the second edition of the art festival KadS [KUNST AAN DE SCHINKEL] in Amsterdam South. Initiator Marisol Ferradás, working in close collaboration with the curator Christine van de Bergh, has selected ten national and international contemporary artists. The artists stemming from various disciplines will intervene in the public space and create site-specific work for the Schinkel neighbourhood.

With this festival Soledad Senlle Art Foundation reflects on the role of art in our society. The artistic interventions refer to current social developments and will offer the public a different view of daily reality. Unlike the first edition of KadS, where the beauty and history of this relatively unknown Amsterdam neighbourhood were given centre stage, the emphasis this year lies on the Schinkel neighbourhood’s busy and chaotic centre: Zeilstraat and Hoofddorpplein.

‘Lack of occupancy’ serves as the inspiration for the work of the South African artist Greg Streak. According to Streak the problem of unoccupied premises is a worldwide issue that is also evident in the Schinkel neighbourhood. His sculpture titled ‘To Rent: Remains of the Cash Cow’ is a 2 x life-size version of a cow’s head covered with 5-euro notes, which will be displayed in a vacant retail unit. Participating artists in KadS 2013 are: Jacqueline Dauriac (FR), Emilie Faïf (FR), Yasmijn Karhof (NL), Sachi Miyachi (JP), Marike Schuurman (NL), Sarah van Sonsbeeck (NL), Greg Streak (ZA) and the duo Thijs de Zeeuw and Pieter Alexander Lefebvre (NL).

Artists statement:

“The work is an ironic and deliberate tongue-in-cheek poke at the situation created by the economic crisis. What is for rent is no longer desirable and basically an in-house joke. The use of real €5.00 notes is critical as it asks questions to the value of money; the fluctuating value of pieces of coloured paper – in this instance rendered meaningless and no longer with any value whatsoever. The 5 euro note had to be reprinted as it was too easily forged. There are some printed notes included in the covering of the head as a direct comment on this also.  The price of the artwork again subverts the works critique as it entertains the value of the artwork within a commercial art world – itself worthy of scrutiny. Here the work doubles back on itself.

The cow is a much valued and recognized symbol within Dutch culture that is excessively loaded on dairy intake in its various forms. The work therefore resonates within this particular context. The cows head – as an isolated object also references Damien Hirst’s work “One thousand years” – in which a real cows head sits in a glass room and flies swarm over it whilst being zapped by an insect-o-cutor. Whilst Hirst’s work revels in the visceral qualities of a real bloody cows head, “Remains of the cash cow” seeks to open debate about what constitutes a “real economy” and the various open-ended debates into the value of real money and the price of an artwork.’

Fake Empire (Blue Monday) (2011)

Project: Cop 17

Location: Sunken Garden Amphitheatre, Durban Beach Front

Work: Fake Empire (Blue Monday) 2011

Fake Empire (Blue Monday) was a temporary public artwork specially commisioned from Greg Streak by VANSA as part of the DAC’s contribution to the COP17 creative programme.  A reflective and finely realised work, engaged with it’s physical surroundings and the wider implications of COP17.

Artists Statement:

The pursuit of capitalism appears to be a major obstacle for environmental sustainability. The month of September 2008 marked a collapse, in many ways, of the worlds economies, and shook many of the assumptions underpinning the global economy. The artwork is structured around the fluctuations in the Dow Jones Stock Exchange during this period as reflected in a graph, and then superimposed onto the visual device of a cityscape. This structure has then been literally inverted, and indigenous plants grow out of this (all these plants are rescued, orphan plants – discarded and brought back to life by Clive Greenstone, who took care of the “roof top garden”). The plywood and steel grid are a direct reference to the materials used in city construction. The white plastic facades refer to an anaemic, plastic and unemotional position. The indigenous plants continue to grow, using the cityscape below as a metaphoric compost. A thin red line traces the city from behind as a linear marker, plotted from the original stock exchange graph. (Blue Monday was the name given to September 29th 2008 – when the worlds economy dropped out from underneath itself).



Centre of the Universe (2008)

Project: Cascoland _2008
Place: Little Cato Manor, Durban, South Africa
Work: Centre of the Universe

What is Cascoland?

Public Art is an important tool in activating and developing public space. In the kind of Public Art Cascoland promotes, inter-disciplinary artists engage themselves in communities to collaborate with audiences and members of the communities in shaping their public space through dialogue and participation. The intention is to motivate and mobilize audiences to become an active participant in the process initiated by the artists and in which the eventual artwork is not as much a physical object but a change in perception of public space with the audience.

Centre of the Universe – 2008

Formal outline / description :

The project / work Centre of the Universe is the contribution of Durban based artist Greg Streak to Cascoland 2008. It consists of three concentric octagon shapes defined through the interconnection of plastic buckets and basins and through the use of white PVC pipe and mild steel base plate connectors. The inner octagon space is constructed through the use of connecting 8 brown / grey 5 litre plastic buckets (there are in fact two buckets that are housed one inside of the other for support) and turned upside down so as to function as a chair / seat for one person. They are connected through the use of white PVC pipe located into laser profiled mild steel tube with base plates. This creates an inner void / space of around 2 metres for the purpose of performance and or any other action to take place. Off these PVC pipe connectors are further connectors that then link a series of larger green circular basins. Here one basin is turn upside down and placed onto the bottom basin so that they are joined along their rims. This creates a slightly elevated seat. Once again, off these connectors are a further set of pipe connectors which link and join the final outer octagon structure that consists of large red oval basins – also inverted and attached one on top of each other. These basins allow for two people to sit on each one. In total there is seating for 32 people.

Conceptual outline :

Tetrahedral: pertaining to or having the form of a tetrahedron; having four lateral planes in addition to a top and bottom

Amphitheatre: a place for public contests, games, performances, exhibitions etc.; an arena, stadium or auditorium

Plastic basins, bowls and buckets are an element that is very much apart of any informal trading situation in many parts of downtown South African cities. These brightly coloured receptors can be found as containers for delicate fruit installations on the street, used as containers to wash children and clothes in the rural areas and, filled with ice, the larger vessels are used to hold various forms of beverages for functions (in this way the lack of electricity and fridges are circumvented). The uses are wide and varied and often not necessarily for what they were originally designed for. Centre of the Universe makes use of these elements as an acknowledgment of their proliferation along the marginalised informal trading route that Cascoland has earmarked for various other site specific interventions. The idea of creating an octagonal amphitheatre or seating arrangement is a reference to the cultural tradition of oral story telling. In Zulu culture (and for that matter many other African tribal cultures) – there was / is a very strong tradition of story telling – typically told around a fire in the evenings. In this way tradition was passed down and maintained. Why Centre of the Universe as a title for the work? Well why not. The centre of ones universe is where one makes it. The enormous contributions made to the little Cato Manor community have been monumental. The way in which things have been shaped and orchestrated really start to make it feel very central to the inhabitants. For them this is the centre of the universe – and why shouldn’t it be. The work is merely a vehicle or apparatus to define an arena / blank open space for any sort of communal engagement to take place. The initial idea of making the work a mobile unit that would be activated in various locations through the festival has been put to the side with the preference to now locate it permanently within the little Cato Manor community. The possibility for this to happen has been made possible through the work of Bronwyn Lace and Fiona Bell.

Notions of tetrahedral structures and the images of ancient amphitheatre structure have also informed the idea / shape / form / content of the overall design and construction of the unit.

Centre of the Universe – the proposal (2006)

Project: Furthermore – book proposal
Curators: Neville Gabie / Leo Fitzmaurice
Work: Centre of the Universe

All artists that participated in the Further up in the Air project were invited to submit proposals for a book. The proposals were to be linked in any way to the original impulse of the residency which was looking at the phenomenon of Apartment blocks disappearing from the Liverpool skyline as a result of the massively reduced population (of the one million residents during the 1970’s industrial / shipping boom – there are now only 400 000 remaining).

Centre of the Universe – the proposal

The residents in and around Sheil Park have, in the past few years, experienced a dramatic shift in the metropolitan skyline. Tower blocks, like that of Linosa Close, have been imploded as the resident to apartment ration has declined to the point where maintenance is no longer financially viable. As a result of the decline in population in Liverpool over the last 25 years or so, it has become a regular phenomenon to see Tower Blocks evanesce from the urban topography and replaced with a matrix of single floor housing projects. This proposal for an intervention within the previous Linosa Close location, looks at this transformation in an indirect way. Exact dimensions of this intervention have not been calculated; if successful, the overall concept will be re-interrogated with the former residents of Linosa Close, the organisers of Further Up in the Air and in consultation with architects and town planners.

Description :

The proposal consists initially of a basic architectural structure – more or less square in proportion with a pitched roof. This structure will have four entrance points. Each of these points of entry will consist of a rectangular covered passage (similar to that of a cloister) that leads to an entrance. These passages with receiving entrance doors will be located centrally to each of the four outer walls. The passageways will be of a standard size to accommodate people walking through [approx. 2.1metres (6’6”)]. The core physical function of this space is to provide a communal space for ex-residents to meet, socialise, read and access computer facilities. It will also serve as a documentation / archive centre for the imploded tower block, Linosa Close. It will have photographic information of Linosa Close, images of its implosion as well as the strategic statistics highlighting not only the reasons for its demise, but collated data from the implosion itself. From how long it took to demolish the internal structure in preparation for implosion, to the types of things found during this process, the amount of explosion required, the calculations of dispersement on implosion, safety requirements etc. Naturally, documentation of the various artistic interventions that took place during the Further Up in the Air art residencies will also be available in book and other forms.

The critical fulcrum within this structure is the floor itself. This will consist of a series of sheets of tempered glass with a view down into a space below the floor. This consists of a space that is equal to the dimensions of the square floor plan of the internal space above, with a depth of no more than one metre (3’). This lower space is sealed off (apart from a strategically placed trap door) and is more a space that is contemplated from above than accessed into below. This space beneath the glass floor will be layered with a network of constructed houses interlinked to form a grid matrix – like a city of single floor houses not dissimilar to that which has replaced the Linosa Close tower block. Each of these units is a micro equivalent of the construction of the large architectural space above, in which the viewer is standing. A perimeter strip of fluorescent lighting will ensure that the floor below is strategically lit and in so doing also provide some additional light to the space above. The glass floor serves as a layer between two interstitial spaces – between the physical and the spiritual, past and present, memory and reality. Standing in the main space, one is enveloped by a repository of memory; the spiritual void of the imploded tower block. The suspended glass floor provides the viewer with the sensation of floating which heightens the idea of a spiritual realm. In this space one can look down on the equivalent of the reality that has replaced it.

Composter (2004)

Project: Hiv(e)
Curator: Greg Streak / PULSE
Location: Gozololo – children’s centre – Kwa mashu, Durban, South Africa
Work: composter (2004)

Hiv(e) was the critically acclaimed project orchestrated by Greg Streak of PULSE. Artists were to respond to the functional needs of Gozololo (a center for children with AIDS or orphaned as a result of their parents having died of the pandemic). The brief was to make a functional contribution whilst still retaining artistic integrity and poetry.

composter (2004)

Acknowledging that Gozololo was previously a rubbish disposal site, I was intrigued by the inherent metaphor and metamorphosis. That this centre of care giving was built on the rotting discard throwaways of society. Taking this metaphor further, I decided to produce a composter; an object that processes organic waste, and in the decomposition produces a mulch that when churned back into the soil, injects it with the nutrients it requires to sustain a healthy vegetable crop. I used a plastic industrial drum and devised a series of galvanised steel attachments that were mounted to the varying surfaces of the composter. I removed a section of fence and rearticulated a new section, which was made to support and contain the composter in such a way that it bisected the composter exactly in half. The two access doors for depositing organic waste are accessible from both the inside and the outside of Gozololo. An articulated path invites people on the street to deposit their organic waste into the composter and thereby contribute to the well being of the internal space. The underneath of the composter is mounted with a drainage pipe that allows all excess liquid that accumulates at the bottom of the composter to be siphoned out under ground and into the vegetable garden beds. The composter sits in a part of the perimeter fence that is in direct proximity to Jena McCarthy’s garden, and the symbiosis between the two is self-explanatory.’ – Greg Streak

Suitably wry, a dotted blue plastic compost bin is inserted into the perimeter fence of ‘Gozololo’. The white dots puncture the surface of the bin and thus aerate the collected waste and detritus of the site, processing it into compost. The piece is both conceptually rich as well as literally enriching. Streak’s piece has dots that mark the spot, a spot that sits not on the fence but in it, a funky visual/verbal pun that allows access from both sides – it links both the inside and outside of ‘Gozololo’.” – Virginia Mackenny

Prophet Isaiah Shembe (2003 / 2004)

Project: National Sculpture Competition
Artists: Greg Streak / Andries Botha
Location: South Beach Durban
Work: Prophet Isaiah Shembe (2004)

The installation in Durban of the statue of The Prophet Isaiah Mloyiswa Mdliwamafa Shembe is a landmark initiative as it will be the first African statue in the eThekwini Municipality. His energy and spirit has been shown in the winning submission for the commision of the statue by Andries Botha and Greg Streak.

At the project signing ceremony, Head of the Parks, Recreation and Culture department Thembinkosi Ngcobo stated that …”we have finally reached the point where one of the movers and shakers of South African Resistance History will finally be acknowledged for his contribution for not fearing oppression and the mighty wrath of the colonial regime.”

Thembinkosi Ngcobo added that academic writing on the Shembe movement/religion was “more extensive than on any other African-initiated church in South Africa. Scholars have emphasised the historical contribution of Shembe to African society’s spiritual resistance in KZNl during the brutal period from the 1910 Union onward, when Settler legislation resulted in political exclusion of the black middle class, and bitter deprivation for the masses.”

While Isaiah Shembe was the founder of an African Independent Church, the Statue being erected is to honour his entrepreneurial foresight as well as his insistence on retaining Zulu beadwork as part of dress, his political savvy and his courage to confront the repressive regime of the Native Administration.

The Shembe Statue is to be located on the beachfront overlooking the spot where the Prophet is known to have parted the waters.

The sculpture was completed in 2004, but due to faction fighting and accusations of politics around the work, it remains to date wrapped and in storage within one of the Durban City warehouses.


Drain (2002)

Project: Violence / Silence
Curator: Greg Streak / PULSE
Location: Nieu-Bethesda, South Africa (2002)
Work: drain

Entitled simply Drain, the piece is minimal. Streak sunk a drainpipe with steel collar into the middle of the cement floor of an old abandoned reservoir. With the aid of some coal dust the interior of the pipe becomes fathomless, plunging into a deep blackness of unknown depth.

The empty reservoir reads as drained of its life-giving contents. It is both a salute to the harsh environment and the farmers, who battle the elements, as well as a powerful metaphor for psychological space. Whilst to drain is to make dry, discharge and carry waste, it is also to deplete and exhaust. Here, the drain can exist in the very centre of one’s being. Streak notes that it is “a chamber – a cavity in the body of an organism” and hence, it reads as an image of a great emptying.

The disturbing power of Streak’s piece lies in its deadly quietness that succinctly combines the unsettling dialogue of the exhibition theme of Violence/Silence. – Virginia Mackenny

Streak’s Drain (2002) is an arresting and poetic response to the psychological trauma of nothingness. An emblem of emptying, removal, even purging, Streak likens its industrial, impersonal form to “a chamber in the body of an organism”, an orifice in a void whose quiet presence seems rather deadly. – Kathryn Smith

Untitled (97 linosa close) (2001)

Project: Further up in the Air
Curators: Leo Fitzmaurice / Neville Gabie
Location: Liverpool (2001)
Work: untitled (97 linosa close)

Further Up in the Air (2001-2004) was the follow up project to Up in the AIr (2000 -2001). Both were two ambitious programmes of artists residencies in Sheil Park, Liverpool, jointly initiated and managed by artists Neville Gabie and Leo Fitzmaurice. The residencies and resulting temporary installations coincided with the redevelopment of the whole Sheil Park site, the demolition of existing 1960s tower blocks and the creation of high quality new homes on the same site.

Eighteen artists took part in Further Up in the Air. Building on the success of the first project, information for artists was produced for Further Up in the Air and a press release garnered even wider interest. Both projects have been well documented and critically received in seminars, conferences and publications. One of the exciting and unusual aspects of the two projects has been the continuing programme of activity they have generated.

Artists and cultural practitioners included Lothar Gotz, Will Self, Elizabeth Wright, Stefan Gec and Paul Rooney

Further up in the Air

We walked in and out of countless apartments. Each one contained the residue and clues of the history of the occupant. Each one filled with belongings and the patterns of personal lives. Some had been left as they were for over three years – some of the occupants had died, some had abandoned their lives there in pursuit of another. Regardless of the time that these apartments had been sealed off, for me personally there was still an enormous sense of invasion. Walking through these private domestic spaces filled with boxes of personal memorabilia, furniture, an unmade bed, an idiosyncratic bathroom – all made me feel like an intruder; a wandering voyeur.

Concerned or rather preoccupied with this sense of intrusion into the private, the intervention I decided to play out in Apartment 97 denied this very experience. I opened the door of the apartment, and no more than half a metre beyond the point at which the door fully opened up to, I built a false wall. This in effect denied access to the rest of the apartment. I proceeded to sand the floors of this small cubicle entrance space, paint the inside of the door with white gloss enamel as I did with the electrical box positioned on the wall to the right of the door. I then proceeded to wallpaper the four walls of this newly constructed space. The wallpaper was white and the texture was a tread plate pattern imitation. The feeling of this space was clean, clinical and unemotional. I continued the skirting board from the actual apartment walls around onto my false wall and strategically placed a dado rail at a height that sealed the split in the false wall from where the lower section could be removed and the apartment accessed. At eye level and centrally placed in the false wall was a security viewer, not dissimilar to the very one in the door of Apartment 97 itself. In fact, this was not a security viewer at all, but the front eyepiece of a telescope that was behind the wall. In the internal space of the apartment that one could no longer access, was a series of strange, rudimentary constructions. The first, mounted on the back of the false wall was a basic wooden construction that held the protruding telescope in a horizontal position so that it was static and so that the eyepiece sat flush with the wallpapered surface on the other side. Some six metres away from the end of the telescope was a further construction. A series of strangely sawn pieces of different types of wood, joined together in a peculiar design, served as nothing more than a stable base to support a 2 x 1 metre mirror positioned at approximately 45 degrees to the focus of the telescope. In its refraction, what the mirror reflected, was a series of white wind driven turbines positioned at the coast some 3 miles or so away. The focal lens of the telescope was focused in on this area of the mirror. It was then pulled back to being slightly out of focus and with the aid of some silicon sealant, held into this position.

For the viewer, what I was interested in was a sense of non-delivery. To upstage any expectation; to deny access into the private and to turn perception upside down and inside out simultaneously. During the days of open studios, the time when people would come to see the varying interventions that had taken place during the residency, I was aware that people would start at those apartments at the top of the tower block and work their way down again. Since I was on the 9th floor, it was inevitable that many other apartments would have been seen prior to arriving at mine. The door to the apartment 97 was always kept shut. The viewer had to open the door to enter. Expecting to walk in to an open space and snoop around another two-bedroom apartment and witness some strange intervention was immediately denied. One barely entered through the door to be confronted with a wall made to look like all the others and that promptly denied any access whatsoever to the internal spaces of the apartment itself. This was an enormous disappointment. Some noticed the security viewer, others were prompted to its presence. Once again this was merely a device on my part of non- delivery in two parts. The viewer, now expecting to get a fish eye lens access to the internal cavern of the apartment were once again denied. What they were confronted with was not the inside of the apartment, but what was outside it. Not directly outside either, not in their line of vision anyway, but in fact a view at right angles to that and some 3 miles away. What they saw was not static but an out of focus movement of a series of white 3 blade propeller wind turbines on the coast. Even the focal lens of the telescope was shifted so as not to give full access. The viewer had to work hard to even identify what it was that they were looking at. The blurred moving image had the quality of an old silent movie; a bit out of focus, a bit jittery in parts. What made this peculiar is that this was hardly the expected vista the viewer was expecting to have. At the end of the day, it was all about denying the voyeuristic tendency of human nature.

Hermit (2000)

Project: !Xoe Bienale(2000)
Curator: Mark Wilby / Ibis Art Centre
Location: Nieu-Bethesda, Klein Karoo
Work: hermit (2000)

Hermit (2000), is a minimal, beveled, cruciform shape sunk into the earth. Simultaneously archaic yet reminiscent of what we’re told evidence from alien landings might look like, Hermit is a suffocating, invisible tomb – the criss-cross roofs of a house, bastion of domesticity and signifier of culture rather than nature, now subsumed by its harsh environment. Considering Streak’s ongoing project “Proposals for places I’d like to live”, there is a sense of irony here. Hermits, in many instances, choose their isolation. It’s a self-imposed imprisonment rather than an enforced one.

– Kathryn Smith