Kali van der Merwe 1


Kali van der Merwe’s main artistic explorations take place in the dark, with the night as her photographic darkroom. 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.

Kali holds a Fine Art degree focussed on sculpture from the University of Cape Town. Post formal study, she sojourned in Berlin “the capital of re- invention”. Returning to South Africa with an interest in filmmaking, she began a career as a documentary filmmaker. Her work combined social issue filmmaking with creative social development and her collaborative documentaries won multiple best film and jury awards at local and international film festivals.

After a successful 15 year film career, Kali followed a strong impulse to return to personal creativity in an intimate way. 7 years ago, a series of awakenings made it no longer possible to live in the noise and bustle of the city. She found creative refuge near a remote, micro village. In rural silence, she plumbed her own depths in a series of photographic, mythological, transforming self-portraits. During this process, fynbos and fauna in her immediate surroundings, became subjects of inspiration too. Kali sees herself as a visual advocate on behalf of fragile and threatened wild animals and plants.


state of all possibilities condensed

into being from the shadow

improbable unreality of reality is obvious

impossible unity beyond all

I am the union and the dissolution

cryptid on last tree

everywhere within

they may stridulate or vibrate

out of existence, one entity affects the other

fragments of divine light




dissolving subject in ultra deep field

divine spark in mutilated darkness

effaced trace of continuous moments

eternal return to before birth

glowing in the heart of matter at the event horizon

imagined self

in depths above

night journey in sea of silence

ontological pivotal points

presence understood as absence

unknowable nature of being