kali van der merwe
My artistic journeys take place at night in the dark. Light is my medium and the world of form and beyond form, my in-depth exploration.
I utilise a photographic process termed “light painting” that blurs boundaries between the two disciplines.
During long exposures, shutter open, I work ‘blind’ accumulating light in the camera’s photosite cavities, until, shutter closed, the final composite image is revealed on the camera screen.
Image creation becomes an encounter over time in the dark with the unknown and invisible.
I deliberately leave my methodology rudimentary and haphazard, providing leeway for chance to intervene.
Fabula Nex, is an exploration of death. Ever since witnessing my own mother’s passing 13 years ago, I have had a deep interest in the transitional moment where flesh and spirit separate and how that ephemeral yet real event leaves its trace on physical form. The subsequent effect death has in the breakdown of form over time in the process of decay also holds immense fascination.
The animal subjects of this series are predominantly road kill, except for a fatal electricity pylon accident. In the high impact deaths at the agency of humans, the violence has left its devastation on a sentient creature. Here is a record of wild animals whose existence is fading as humans make ceaseless, avaricious incursions into their habitats.
Situated in mythical, celestial tableaux, each image is intended as a praise poem to the life of that animal. There is reverence for every form, yet the reminder that all form is ultimately empty is never far from awareness.
With each image, an accompanying fabula, story or tale, tells how the deceased was encountered or gifted to me. Are our realities not an accumulation of stories we tell ourselves individually and collectively?
The Latin fabula also refers to a matter, a concern or subject under discussion. The word matter originates from the Latin mater (mother) and is the origin of our word material. So embedded in the very etymology of the word for the stuff of existence is the feminine and the act of storytelling.
Nex means blood of the slain, murder, slaughter, violent death. Latin has 27 different words for death and 33 words for kill, which suggests acquaintance with violence but also familiarity with and nuanced exploration of death that we no longer have.
Now more than ever we are staring into the face of death, a collective potential suicide in extinction by our own hand.
If we look close and deep enough we might see our own fate in the cloudy, shrunken eyes and bloody mouths of these beings.
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