Often, artists create work with a view to immortality; if they can’t live on, perhaps their creations can. Danae Stratou, on the other hand, knows one of her seminal pieces has a death sentence.
In 1997, she joined with industrial designer Alexandra Stratou and architect Stella Constantinides to create a breathtaking spiral made up of alternating conical dips and protrusions in the Sahara Desert, near the Egyptian town of El Gouna just off the Red Sea. The project, known as Desert Breath, spreads over one million square feet of sand.
While the installation is still visible from the sky, there are marked signs of weathering. A body of water that once acted as the work’s center point has since evaporated. The earthen mounds have flattened over time, and cracks can be seen on the overall surface of the piece. For the artists (known collectively as D.A.ST. Arteam), Desert Breath’s impending demise is the whole point.
«Through its slow disintegration, it’s become an instrument to measure the passage of time,» says Stratou. And as time has gone on, she adds, she finds she enjoys the piece more and more.
«The more time passes, the more it becomes fragile, but it also has developed a more organic relationship with the site. When it was just made, you could feel the connection to the shape, but now, it looks like it wasn’t made by human beings at all, and this is something we like a lot.»