The discovery of the work of Dutch artist Semâ Bekirovic has refueled my deep interest in the (false) dichotomy between humans and nature. I’ve posted before about artists like Tim Knowles and Alexander Calder, who, albeit in very different ways, sacrifice a bit of control to the wind – a natural phenomenon. Other artists, like Horace Zeng, allow for animal interaction as part of the creative process. By letting such non-deliberate forces co-author their work, they create unpredictable results, full of potential.
Semâ Bekirovic however captured my attention because she has taken an even more extreme perspective. She wonders if is still art when there is no human author at all – and by raising that question, suggests that it might be. In her recent publication Reading by Osmosis Semâ shares her collection of artworks created by non-human artists.
The material used in the artwork does originate from the human domain, but is ‘interpreted’ by nature.
Below just a few examples: shoes that have been appropriated by moss; toilet paper that has been morphed by rain; a bicycle seat that was altered by the London Thames river.
Semâ herself says:
‘Whether it’s been caused by an animal or by nature, each of these results have their own beauty – a beauty that surprisingly often reminds us of contemporary art’.
And yeah, I see that. But Semâ is also the first to note that it’s not so much about defining an answer to whether art is still art when there is no human author. In one interview she explains that she also wants us to think about our human tendency to exercise and maintain control over nature – in particular when that is often an illusion.
Maybe we should all allow a bit of chaos into our lives. Or maybe there already is, and should we just pay more attention to the unexpected opportunities.
It certainly is something that I’d like to see more of. Because the world can’t change fast enough through design; we need all the new answers we can get. And if anything, chaos leads to unpredictable results: answers to questions you never imagined asking.