Marco Cianfanelli and Jeremy Rose (Mashabane Rose Architects) originally collaborated in 2007 with the view to making an interactive sculpture project that incorporated the image of Nelson Mandela. Culture Mechanics, a specialist museum, exhibition, design and art consultancy curated the project and commissioned the installation of this piece on the site.
The sculpture, a collaboration between artist Marco Cianfanelli and Jeremy Rose, significantly acknowledging the 50th anniversary, consists of 50 steel columns between 6 and 9.5 meters high along a thirty-meter length, which can be seen, from the road looking like a forest of steel poles. To see the Mandela image the visitor after turning into the Mandela Capture Site, approaches from the car park along a path representing “the long walk to freedom” culminating halfway down a cut into the earth, where the laser cut steel columns gradually come together and focus at a particular point 30 meters from the sculpture. The 50 linear vertical steel columns line up at this point creating the illusion of a flat two-dimensional image magically recreating Madiba’s portrait, metaphorically announcing his return to the site of his disappearance from world view.
Walking closer towards and through the sculpture, the portrait image dissolves back into the forest of 50 columns, and the visitors then looks across the road to a new memorial of 5 smaller columns creating an axis from the main sculpture to the monument site, which replaces the original memorial.
The sculpture, which eloquently becomes part of the surrounding landscape, and visually shifts throughout the day, with the sculpture itself being affected by the changing light and atmosphere behind and around it. This is the largest artwork of its kind in South Africa and has instantly become an international symbol of the iconic status of Mandela declared by the United Nations and celebrated every year on his birthday as Mandela Day.
Photo by Jonathan Burton