Cobus van Bosch
From the SA Art Times
15 February 2009

 There’s a Kentridge somewhere up there....

 Steve Kretzmann  

A conceptual collaboration between 21 of South Africa’s top artists - such as William Kentridge, Diane Victor, Willie Bester and Brett Murray to mention a few - would have thousands of art lovers flocking to a gallery.

But in the two years the conceptual Heritage Cache, conceived by Cobus van Bosch and Arlene Amaler-Raviv, has been running, only scores, rather than thousands, of people have seen it.

Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that the work lies half-way up Table Mountain, buried under rocks and leaves. While this may limit the number of people who view it, the location, and finding it, is all part of the concept. You need to know where to look, be keen to don a pair of comfortable shoes and hike to the site, and then scratch around to discover exactly where the treasure lies buried. The co-ordinates and a global positioning system (GPS) help with what is, in fact, an adult treasure hunt.

And what you can look forward to unearthing are 21 objects chosen by artists William Kentridge, Diane Victor, Willem Boshoff, Lien Botha, Willie Bester, Brett Murray, Churchill Madikida, Gordon Froud, Raymond Smith, Cobus van Bosch, Arlene Amaler-Raviv, Sanell Aggenbagh, Dale Yudelman, Norman O’Flynn, Liza Grobler, Conrad Botes, Andrew Porter, Kevin Brand, Adrienne van Eeden, Inge du Plessis and Leonard Wichtmann.

Each object represents an aspect of South African heritage a nd comes attached with notes to be read while taking in a grand view of the Atlantic ocean below and the Twelve Apostles above, whereafter you put it back as you found it so that the next person may enjoy it.

But while the entire concept may seem rather strange and exotic to gallery pundits, the Heritage Cache is part of a global phenonmen called Geocaching, in which (mostly outdoor) enthusiasts hunt for objects using co-ordinates posted at www.geocaching.com.

This activity, which started in 2000 with a bunch of Americans experimenting with the accuracy of their GPSs, has grown to include tens of thousands of participants who hunt for over 720 000 geocaches in over 200 countries.

Most of the cache’s are small objects such as toys or artifacts of little worth. Some cache’s are simply a notebook to record that you found it. The Heritage Cache, of course, is an exception. While art lovers would appreciate its contents, geocache enthusiasts who have found it as part of their normal treasure hunting quest have also expressed appreciation for what it contains.

Some of the feedback posted by geocachers on the geocache website were: “Such a pleasure to enjoy some thing arty,” and, “That is quite a box full of goodies!” And it seems van Bosch and Amaler-Raviv may also be contributing to art education, as some people indicated they would need to find out more about the artists involved: “A very interesting cache - now I will have to find out what it all means!” said one geocacher.

Originally planned to be part of the X-CAPE programme within the abortive CAPE07 event, Amaler- Raviv said the idea evolved after Van Bosch met her to talk about her successful ‘Autobiography in Paint’ exhibition which she was putting on at World Art in Johannesburg. She said it became apparent that she and Van Bosch were reading “similar stuff” at the time and she was “going mal” over “the way images in the universe connect”.

She said Van Bosch started talking about geographical points and GPS, “this amazing new technology” and the concept was finalised “within a day”.

She said the response from the artists who were invited to contribute found objects worth less than R20 each, was “fantastic”. “There’s even some dagga in there.” She said they last visited the cache about two months ago to check its contents, and everything was still there. No-one had even lit up the dagga zol.

And if you’re in Johannesburg and feeling left out, don’t fret,she said they were planning to plant a cache in Jo’burg, “soon”.

The Heritage Cache coordinates:

are 18° 23’40.10 east

and 33° 56’54.88 south.

And if you don’t have a GPS, don’t worry, a good map will do.