Mick Raubenheimer’s ROUND CORNERS mini-interviews situate given artists outside their medium, whilst peeking into their various worlds. He took some virtual time out of lockdown to sit down with actor and poet Gérard Rudolf, whose 21 for 21 initiative is on Facebook.

When did you first identify as a creative artist?

That is a hard one to answer. Are any of us “creative artists” or are we “creatives”, merely messengers or channels for and from the Divine? For most of my life, for most of my journey through this Dream we refer to as Life I have been open to the messages I felt I needed to convey, either as an actor (a job or calling I have many times questioned) or as a writer, a photographer or more specifically as a poet.

Even as a child I was aware of something “other” at work or at play in the Universe around me, that there is definitely something greater outside of myself going on, and the challenge has always been to capture even a fragment of it in contemplation or in words or through the craft of acting.

Even in my photographic images and in my films (I have made two short films so far) I keep reaching for the “hidden” beauty so prevalent in the Dream. I can’t pinpoint an exact time or day or year when I first identified as a creative artist. I think I came into the Dream with that mission and never really thought about it too deeply.

Gérard Rudolf poetry. Picture: Cornél Van Heerden
Gérard Rudolf. Picture: Cornél Van Heerden

Outside your medium, what branch of art most stimulates you?

There isn’t only one medium that stimulates me more than others. Without thinking too much about it I’d have to say film and photography. To me film is the perfect art because it carries within it the power to stir the soul on countless levels. Film circumnavigates time.

Photography arrests the moment, a moment one can return to time and time again and find something new within that arrested moment, which I find interesting. And then there is music too. Music transports and inspires me and I often use it as a creative tool to push my imagination a little further. And architecture.

Which artist/s in said discipline have significantly inspired you, and why?

Also an almost impossible (unfair?) question to answer because the answer will change with every passing year or phase of one’s life, even sometimes from day to day! But there are certain people and genres I return to: David Lynch, Terrence Malick, Zaha Hadid, Roger Ballen, Nick Cave, Radiohead, Rumi, Bolanõ, Breyten Breytenbach, Mary Oliver, Punk, Sonny Rollins, Bach, Pina Bausch, Coltrane, films like Una Pura Formalitá, Rolling Stones, Springsteen, Modernism, Rothko, Lucien Freud, books like Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy and The Collected Works of Billy The Kid by Michael Ondaatje, and and and… Too many to mention!!

What, to you, is art’s most important function?

Sometimes I am not sure art has some higher or important function in the general sense. I think art and what it provides or gives us is a matter of how each individual experiences it. What you like the next person might loathe, you know?

Perhaps then art’s most important function is to stimulate dialogue in some way, shape or form. I don’t think any art can or ever has changed the world. What it can do is to maybe change individual perception of the world, of the dream we are all in…for a while…on a good day.

Local creatives (in any medium) that currently excite you?

Once again there are so many: Roger Ballen, Marí Borstlap, Strijdom van der Merwe, Clive van den Berg, Oupa Sebeko, Lien Botha, Anton Kannemeyer, Conrad Botes, Benguela, Jozua Malherbe, Jahmil X.T. Qubeka, Pieter Hugo, fela_12 on Instagram, Wally Serote, Zakes Mda…to name very few.

What specific work – be it in literature, music, or visual art – do
you return to again and again, and why?

The one novel I seem to return to regularly is Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy because it is epic and violent and poetic and mysterious. A modern masterpiece. Another (newer) book I dip into almost weekly at the moment is Robin Robertson’s The Long Take because it is a novel- length poem and to me it seems miraculous that anybody can write anything like it. Just breathtaking. But ask me again next week. It will change.

Any current project you’re unveiling/wrapping up?

Well, with the Corona shit show going on at the moment I have one TV series I am acting in which needs to be completed and is still hanging. Acting work and income has basically ground to a halt.

But I am compiling all my new Afrikaans poems into a collection at the request of a publisher in Joburg. It is the one thing that excites me at the moment to be honest, because it has been ten years since the publication of Orphaned Latitudes (Red Squirrel Press, UK), my debut collection. It feels good to be working towards the possibility of the publication of a new body of writings. Let’s see what happens.

Who: Poet Gérard Rudolf
Cover Pic: Marí Borstlap