ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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What Colour Do You Paint Your Beach?

Conceptualising art as a process and situating it at the beach—a creative margin—open new possibilities for thinking about land art and artists in radical ways.

I was loitering on the beach on a breezy evening during the monsoon. I encountered a little girl making a castle on the beach with tender beach sand. She was embellishing the sandcastle with seashells. She came to the beach with her grandfather and three other adults. She was sitting quietly and busying herself with the progress of the castle. This scene piqued my curiosity, and I wanted to take a photo. I was bothered by the ethical concerns around taking that photo without their permission. And maybe, to some extent, I was more worried about the possibility of getting caught if I did not take permission. I mustered courage and asked politely, “Can I take a picture of her sandcastle?” Her grandfather responded, “Yes, of course, she is an artist and building a palace.” She is not the only child who has attempted and enjoyed making different structures on the beach; she is one among many. Children come to the beach with a predilection for making sandcastles.

I am thinking about land art on the beach with the idea that the beach is a creative margin. Land art marks a shift of art forms from the galleries to open spaces. In land art, it is the idea and the process that is considered as art, rather than a finished piece. Conceptualising art as a process and situating it at the beach—a creative margin—open new possibilities for thinking about land art and artists in fundamentally different and radical ways. Although land art fundamentally democratises art, I ask how land art redefines the “artist;” does land art democratise the artist, and can everyone become an artist? The idea that the artistic process itself is considered art deserves special attention. In a sense, the beach itself is a process. It attracts and invites beachgoers. Children constitute a significant share of beachgoers. One of the defining scenes on the beach is children playing with beach sand and making different structures on the beach. Their creations waiting to be engulfed by the waves, leading to the eventual collapse of the structure. This momentary nature of the art, again, in a different sense, is a process. There is continuous creation and destruction, and it is an unfinished structure. Here, I venture to call the children and their castles, amateur artists, and amateur art. Land art on the beach allows everyone to become an artist.

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