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4 October 2016

Fabula Nex: Staring death in the face


n her exhibition entitled Fabula Nex, which opens at Rossouw Modern’s SPACE Gallery on Friday 7 October, artist Kali van der Merwe explores her fascination with death and its effects on the breakdown of form over time in the process of decay. The animal subjects of this series are predominantly road kill, except for a fatal electricity pylon accident.

death that we no longer have.

“I have 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,” says Kali. “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.”

Born in Johannesburg, Kali holds a Fine Art degree cum laude, majoring in sculpture, from the UCT. Initially working in the mediums of ceramics, printmaking and sculpture, a fiveyear sojourn in the chaotic environment of Berlin post the wall coming down led Kali to experiment with many mediums, including taxidermy installation, filmmaking and photography.

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 her work also serves as a reminder that all form is ultimately empty. Each image is accompanied by a fabula, story or tale, about how the deceased body was encountered and gifted to the artist.

Returning to South Africa, Kali focused on documentary and experimental filmmaking. After a successful film career spanning 15 years which saw her documentaries winning several awards both locally and internationally, Kali followed a strong impulse to return to personal creativity in an intimate way.

Elaborating on the title of the exhibition, Kali says: “The Latin word 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 a nuanced exploration of

“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.”

Seven years ago, she opted out of city life for her present-day rural existence in Baardskeerdersbos to manifest that desire. Here she continues her rich creative trajectory as an artist, creative photographer, experimental filmmaker, sound designer, social activist, media-skills trainer and yoga guide. Fabula Nex opens on Friday 7 October at 17:30 during the Hermanus First Fridays Artwalk, and bookings can be made to attend an Artist Walkabout on Saturday at 12:00. Contact 028 313 2222 or

Local artist Jaco Sieberhagen with visiting international land artists Soonim Kim, Patrick Tagoe-Turkson and Marie Gayatri.

Land artists visit Hermanus Three international land artists recently visited Hermanus as part of the Global Nomadic Art Project (GNAP), presented by the South African Site Specific Land Art Collective. This project, with the subtitle Stories of Rain, offered a small group of artists from all over the world the opportunity to travel across South Africa from 8 September to 6 October. Nature art, also referred to as land art, is a nondestructive ephemeral art practice that uses natural materials and structures found at a chosen site to construct or perform a temporary artwork. As the GNAP artists travelled across the country they participated in public events along the way - from presentations to workshops to land art sessions with local artists and interested parties. Soonim Kim from South Korea, Patrick TagoeTurkson from Ghana and Marie Gayatri Ekedahl from Sweden were part of the group of nine renowned land artists who were accompanied by local artists along the various routes for short periods of time as they toured from the Cradle of Humankind to the foot of Table Mountain. Tracing the legacy of the first nomadic people through varied landscapes and world heritage rock art sites, the visiting artists created temporary nature art responses along the way. Local artist Jaco Sieberhagen and his wife Sugnet hosted Soonim, Patrick and Marie at their home in Onrus, where they spent time creating land art at Harderbaai using natural elements such as kelp, fynbos, pebbles and rocks. They also visited Hermanus where they had their first experience of land-based whale watching from Gearing’s Point. At the end of their trip, the artists will gather in Cape Town for a one day symposium on land and nature art on 5 October, followed by an exhibition of their work at the AVA Gallery in Cape Town on 6 October.

Nature art created by Soonim Kim at the West Coast National Park (above) and by Patrick Tagoe-Turkson at Harderbaai in Onrus (below).

The Village News 04 October 2016  
The Village News 04 October 2016  

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