broke-whole by Kali van der Merwe


the labor-oratory of Dr. Kali

This interdisciplinary art exhibition is on show until 15 August 2017 at The Gallery at Grande Provence, Main Road, Franschhoek

Broke-Whole opens an aperture on the mysteries of life through the lens of death.

Kali blurs boundaries between painting and photography with long exposures and a technique called ‘light painting’. Her work traverses nuanced interconnection between death and life, searching for the soul of form with light.

I am fascinated by these works by Kali van der Merwe. Especially these four images that show progression, movement and at the very same time are static and lifeless. So much of what we perceive as ‘nature’ and ‘wildlife’ are seen through someone else’s lens as a static image. But these artwork give a certain type of semi-life to these animals again – allowing them to become more animated and tell their own story to the viewer.

What’s really interested to me about this work “shape of the realm which has no form”, is that unlike the title suggests, there is much form in this. My mind keeps recognising different forms and images in it – the shape of Africa as example – in the way that we imagine and see certain images in the clouds. There is so much rawness and wildness in this artwork, and can be quite scary, but because it’s floating in space I feel like the danger is not real to me – can’t reach or touch me – I can look at the face with no/all form, with no aparent risk to me.

My favourite work has to be “illusory truth”:

The interdisciplinary works on show also includes sculptures like “Dancing Existence Atop the Florid Megalith”:
“On the surface is the broken, scarred, partially decayed state of things,
beyond is a search for deeper unity, synthesis and wholeness. The
whole is never static, nor final but is in a state of becoming.”
More works from the exhibition:
As an artist living a vegan lifestyle I can’t help but wonder about the death that each of these animals and insects experienced. And at the same time I had no reservations about sharing these works on, because it feels like the works themselves are saying something important. Something that Kali or I can’t even put into words. These works speak from a realm that we can sometimes sense and feel – our own origin or source… What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below or on our facebook page

EDIT (8 AUGUST): Now I’ve really fallen in love with her work all over again. See Kali’s comment below regarding the animals and insects used in her work.

See these works at the Gallery at Grande Provence in Franschhoek – showing until 15 August…

2 Responses

  1. Kali van der Merwe

    THe genet was a road kill victim found in Hermanus. The woman who found the genet contacted universities as well as schools to see if anyone was interested but i was the only one who responded to her call out.

    The Baby barn owl died mysteriously in my friends barn and was already covered in ants when it was found. She kindly put it in her deep freeze until she as able to meet up with me and hand over the frozen body with so many ants stuck in the downy feathers – it took me a long time to pick each one out.

    Each creature has a story to it.

  2. Kali van der Merwe

    I realise its so natural to me that I would never kill anything to create art – I sometimes forget to mention it. I wouldn’t be able to live with the karma of taking a life – even the life of an insect.

    My very strict rule is that I find each creature or insect that i photograph already dead. The animals are often victims of road kill. I find them on the roads here or friends collect them for me or alert me to another poor creature that has lost its life on the roads. The insects I find in and around my house and some on journeys I take to further places. So I totally rely on serendipity and chance as to what becomes my subject matter, I play no choice in the matter except in finding the vacated body.

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