James Geurts

Void of a River

“The public sculpture that I am developing is propositional, it acts as an abstract measuring device, exploring the possibilities and limits of measuring the river physically and symbolically.” – James Geurts

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Following on from his residency/participation in the Swimmable! LAB in 2014, from late 2015 and over 2016 Geurts will produce concepts for ‘Void of a River’ a public sculpture abstracting forces and natural phenomena already present in the Derwent River, with the intention to manifest it for the GASP site.

During his residency with GASP (Nov.-Dec 2015 Geurts undertook extensive on-site research and development of his project, testing perceptual engagements with the river. This included the creation of a tidal drawing action: Drawing in: Derwent River (low tide-high tide). On the 4th November Geurts launched a small row boat from the GASP site, Wilkinsons Point at precisely 10:39am (low-tide), and set adrift upriver with the incoming tide for 5 hours until 03:42pm. The tidal line drawing that he produced references psycho-topographical mapping and the fluid dynamics of the river. The currents took him across the Derwent, past MONA, drawing him upriver, where he drifted ashore near the Cadbury’s factory.


This action inspired the concept of creating a sculpture within the river. Since his residency, Geurts has been working closely with the Cavitation Research Laboratory at the Australian Marine College to produce Void of a River. At high tide this takes the form of a negative space of a cube, an impossible natural occurrence in the river. At low tide the cube reveals a contained sample of the Derwent River water. The geometric inversion sets up a conversation around the forces connected with the river and its uses, from the hydrodynamic to the psychological, the industrial to the cultural.

Drawing In, Derwent R. James Geurts 2015

Artist Bio – James Geurts produces site and time-specific projects which focus on the dynamics of physical forces and fields and the influence these have on our perception. Geurts’ practice locate ‘paradigms of measurement’ and ‘psychogeographic methods’ as they have unfolded over extended periods of field research. He explores the expression of these relations in geographic and conceptual forms, how we fathom a tide, an axis of a rotating earth, or the phenomenon of a horizon. His works aim to amplify and reframe phenomena that often escape our attention, being too vast or localised, enduring or ephemeral, literal or abstract. Geurts brings into view the influence of these phenomena on social and personal experience and the world at large. Geurts explores these features using processes ranging from public sculpture, drawing, installation, video, photography and living monochromes.

Geurts has exhibited his projects in galleries and landscape sites worldwide, including White Cube, London; GEMAK, Den Haag Netherlands; Centre for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv Israel; Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide; La Chambre Blanche, Quebec; and the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne. Geurts established the ongoing conceptual project Embassy for Water in 2011, which was recently commissioned for the European Capital for Culture in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands in 2018.

Read more about the artist.

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Elwick Bay Foreshore
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