dreaming of returning to your body
falling - you are me as i am you
in your presence
the fight is always with the self
all images copyright of Kali van der Merwe
A State of Nature
1. a wild primitive state untouched by civilization
2. without clothes; nude; naked.
The 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 and fire-resistant 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 giving authorship and agency to my naked female body. Vulnerable in my stripped state, I call attention to the forest’s fragility. Yet I also intend my female flesh to honour the forest’s longevity and ability to survive. (Women’s strength is legendary). A thousand years is an age estimate for a particular Milkwood tree.
My presence is translucent. I find ecstatic communion with the arboreal world, allowing it to penetrate me. Visual osmosis occurs through permeable skin. I merge and boundaries are blurred in intimate co-mingling.
My images have no course with digital manipulation. I effect my creative engagement through intuitive performance in location. For composition, I rely on the camera’s time-space compression, where chance plays a significant role.
Inherent in performance is artifice. Even in my solitariness, knowing the camera’s shutter is open can bring, if not self-consciousness, at least self-awareness. Nevertheless I seek surrender into the presence of the moment and the dropping of my social masks.
The forest is living memory of both plant and human evolution. It is from this “source energy” I draw inspiration, holding exchange with inner selves, which speak to the inherent duality of matter and the longing for union; with nature, with my own deeper nature.