kali van der merwe

a state of nature

a state of nature


Platbos forest where these images were created is a remnant forest, a fragment of the once majestic forests that populated Southern Africa millions of years ago before being subsumed by the more hardy fynbos. It is situated within a coastal belt of the Southern tip of the African continent, an area that is being recognised as the birthplace of humankind’s ancestry and cultural modernity. The world’s oldest abstract art dating back 70 000 years has been discovered within this belt at Blombos Cave.


Presently this precious sliver of forest survives precariously as an endangered eco system, threatened by; irregular rainfall, scorching summers, fires from neighbouring farms, quad bike enthusiasts and invasions from alien vegetation.


I insert myself into this delicate balance, vulnerable in my stripped state echoing the forest’s fragility.


Visual osmosis occurs through my permeable skin. My presence is translucent as I find ecstatic communion with the arboreal world, allowing it to penetrate me. I merge and boundaries are blurred. My presence speaks to the inherent immateriality of matter and the longing for union - with nature, with my own deeper nature.


My transient flesh, contrasts with the forest’s solid longevity. A thousand years, far beyond any human lifespan, is an age estimate for a particular Milkwood tree.


My images have no course with digital manipulation. I effect my creative engagement through solitary, intuitive performance in location. For composition, I rely on the camera’s time-space compression, where chance plays a significant role.


The forest is living memory of plant and human evolution and their interdependence. I draw inspiration from this, holding a space of exchange.



Read Essay by Alexander Dodd

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