Century’s Prytaneum comprises three works exploring ‘life-long learning’, ‘indigenous knowledge systems’ and ‘cultural hybridity as a counter measure to South Africa’s former emphasis on cultural difference.
Commissioned by Rhodes University on the occasion of their Centenary, September 2004. Unveiled by Chancellor Jakes Gerwel.
Life Cycle, made from welded tubular stainless steel, is adjacent to a ‘desire trail’ on the east of the Administrative Block. Comprised of a series of planar outlines of bicycles welded together in the shape of a helix, the sculpture seems to defy the limits of gravity and to represent an upward sweep of forms – almost as if its components had been caught in motion. While the structure may seem reminiscent of a Ferris wheel and thus of the fairground, it is also perhaps suggestive of scientific exploration: the sculpture includes bicycles that are multiplied in such a way that they seem to invoke reference to both cloning and geometry. But Life Cycle might also be understood to speak about an impetus to gain knowledge. The plane of the two interlocking spirals is off the vertical, resulting in a circle which can never be completed and which by implication is thus not sealed off from further learning. On another level, bicycles are a mode of transport not limited to the economically privileged or to either of the sexes, and in this way the work perhaps speaks of an aspiration for learning on the part of a diverse academic body. Brenda Schmahmann, 2011 (excerpt).