by Sofie B. Ringstad (2021, Kunsthochschule Weißensee)

A Speculative Sand Sculpture Festival
Reuterkiez, Berlin | 8 July - 16 July 2021

Maybachufer 4
Schinkestraße 23-24
Hobrechtstraße 55
Pflügerstraße 73
Reuterstraße 9-10
Rütlistraße 5
Weserstraße 176
Weichselstraße 33

Coined as the building block of modernity, the global demand for sand – or rather, the right kind of sand – is increasing at an accelerating pace. To satisfy needs sparked by the global building frenzy and extensive fracking in North America, water moulded sand from quarries, rivers, lakes and the ocean is becoming sparse, making it a recent favourite in the global extractivist trading. Consequently, over-mining is eroding shorelines, and in the expanding world deserts, where clay and salt levels makes the sand unsuitable for building, we find Abu Dhabi’s raging towers, new Guggenheim and 2 km long artificial public beach – constructed on imported granule.

While sand surrounds us on all sides in the Anthropocene cities, it only appears as its naked self on children’s playgrounds; spaces that, much like the wounds of excavation that sand is extracted from, are bi-products of the industrialized, urbanized modernity. In the paradoxically innocent, soft landscape of the sandbox, an arena for exploration, learning and inventing is facilitated for the dreamers of tomorrow – and on these grainy carpets, States of Irreversibility: A Speculative Sand Sculpture Festival reveals itself.

Similar to the allotted cubicles of biennales and art fairs, the works of the festival appear within defined, grid-like frames. They are, however, released from the suppressing constraints of traditional Western exhibition structures, as their form is in radical, constant development, shaped collectively by actors in various capacities, abilities and levels of awareness. The works are namely, as land artist Robert Smithson described the space of a sandbox, in eternal "states of irreversibility" (1).

Just like the individualist, progress-oriented global engine that unsheathes certain types of sand and increases others, the relentless creation and dismantling of works on view at the festival invite you to reflect on the multiplicities of sand. Like any piece of art, their fleeting becoming and deconstruction does not represent a final truth, but suggests the existence of ideas and visions to be moulded, re-thought and re-worked in infinity – much like the labour given to envisioning a new, sustainable future.

(1) Smithson, R., 1996. ‘A Tour of the Monuments of Passiac, New Jersey’ in J. Flam (eds.), Robert Smithson: The Collected Writings, p. 68-74, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles.