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On-line version ISSN 2304-8557
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LEWIS, Janine  and  VAN DER MERWE, Jan. Archaeology of time - activation of installation space by the spect-actor. Koers (Online) [online]. 2020, vol.85, n.1, pp.1-13. ISSN 2304-8557.

An artistic installation implies theatre in situ, in that a/the space is transformed into a potential experiential encounter through design and scenography. This potential space then only requires the spectator to activate the full experience through embodied engagement with the installation, inciting visceral meaning-making. This embodied activation implies that the spectator then also becomes a performer, as they are simultaneously the ones physically causing the theatrical experience and the ones experiencing the elements designed for (their) interpretation. In this manner a heightened sense of becoming what Boal (1992) coined the 'spect-actor' is achieved By activating the space through physical engagement with/in the installation where all the sensory receptors trigger a visceral response in the spect-actor, meaning-making occurs through phenomenology and implies a knowing body through personal- and socio-cultural interpretation. For this paper, the installations by renowned South African artist Jan van der Merwe are used as examples to argue for the emergence of the spect-actor in the role of activator. As an installation artist, Van der Merwe creates large artworks of intricately recreated tableaux often composed in discarded, rusted found material. Van der Merwe calls the found objects "artefacts of our time". Thus, they assume an archaeological quality and become relics of a way of life, a civilisation degenerated and fossilised though time and rust. The spect-actor is both then the site and cite of activation where the time and space converge into an ephemeral experience.

Keywords : Installation art; Jan van der Merwe; embodied perception; spect-actor.

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