Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Tankwa Reflex

Tankwa Reflex - Performance piece and art installation at AfrikaBurn 2012

photo: Gary van Wyk

photo: Conrad Lattimer
photo: Henry Fagan
 Here is a selection of poems that formed part of my performance piece "Tankwa Reflex" I performed at AfrikaBurn this year. I printed and laminated over 40 different poems to drift on water being contained in 30 green enamel bowls. Granny Smith apples were placed in a star-shape around the bowls. The piece served as an installation art work, as well as a setting for the performance poetry piece I presented on the Friday and Saturday of the festival. 
I really enjoyed the way the piece was received. I do not like to impose a definite interpretation on the piece. When people came up to me and asked "does the star-shape signify anything?" or "what do the apples mean?" or "why all this water?" then I would answer "what does it all mean to YOU?" Sometimes an art work need not be explained, but simply experienced. There was so much poetry within this specific piece - the glistening light falling on the water and the mirror-mosaic, the colour and taste of the apples, the wonderment and curiosity on the viewers' faces. "Tankwa Reflex" is simply an open-ended reflective interaction with art and performance. Within the piece there were definite ingredients giving it a shape and feel, yet what the piece stood for was as varied as the people who experienced the piece.

I should add that the incredible rain and flash hail-storm that broke through the skies on the day before the first performance made me experience the piece and the poetry in a different light. The Tankwa Karoo, where the festival is hosted each year, is known for its desert climate. If you want water there, you have to bring it yourself. No taps, no rivers. Thus, for the first time in the fest's 6-year history the rain and hail did come as a surprise and a challenge to many. Some of the art works and theme camps were "re-shaped" and "re-distributed" by the winds and rain, yet the festival-goers and artists retained their sense of humour and AfrikaBurn spirit and most of us rose to the occasion and came out the better.

A special thank you to Andreas and Chantell who made the mirror mosaic.
A big thank you to the apple seller in Paarl who gifted me the 700 apples and a hearty thank you to all the photographers who shared their photographs so generously with me.

photo: Tim Honey

Entrance of the Waters

Beloved of the rivers, beset
By green growth and transparent drops,
Like a tree of veins your spectre
Of dark goddess biting apples:
And then awakening naked
To be tattoed by the rivers,
And in the wet heights your head
Filled the world with new dew.
Water rises to your waist,
You are made of wellsprings
And lakes shine on your forehead.
From your sources of density you draw
Water like vital tears
You pull the sands of ancient riverbeds
across celestial nights,
Crossing rough, dilated stone,
Breaking down on the way
All the salt of geology,
Cutting through forests of compact walls
Dislodging the muscles of quartz.
Make way for the entrance of the Waters!

- Pablo Neruda

photo: Tim Honey
 Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.

- Louise Erdrich

photo: Tim Honey
 your wild and green veins have grown to this rocky outpost of my thirsting heart
i trust that sustenance will be found even in the most bare and dry season
it is the tip-ends of your tenacious roots that beat fiercest with craving life
and it'll grope and push through this wild darkness till it finds that rarest and sweetest of water

- Lara Kirsten

photo: Tim Honey
the present,
by step,
press your feet
onto the resinous wood
of this moment,
going up,
going up,
not very high,
Don't go all the way to heaven.
for apples,
not the clouds.
your present,
your own apple.
Pick it from
your tree.
Raise it
in your hand.
It's gleaming,
rich with stars.
Claim it.
Take a luxurious bite
out of the present,
and whistle along the road
of your destiny.

From "Ode to the present" by Pablo Neruda

photo: Conrad Lattimer
 stand in your own water!
only from your own spring
can you come to life
only from your own deep well of water
can you reach the heights of your being
stand tall in your fountain
stand strong in your rich cellular potential
grow wild and far
turn this handful of water into a wave
and turn this wave

- Lara Kirsten

photo: Gilles Chevalier
 Be wild as water
write, erase and rewrite
your purpose and direction.
on your seasonal moods
of fertility, fragmentation
self ruin and silence.
Be faithful
to the fire in your heart.
Strike the earth!
Split the sky!
Be true
to your shifting essence
of ice, mist and flow
and your curving bow
of liquid colour.

- Ian McCallum

photo: Conrad Lattimer
in die holte van my hand
hou ek die water van die land
en prewel 'n soete inkantasie
smekend dat ek van water kan leer
hoe om vlugtig deur jou vingers te vloei
en aarde toe te val sonder weerstand

in the hollow of my hand
i hold the water of the land
and murmur a sweet incantation
begging to learn from water how to
flow flightily through your fingers
and fall to the earth without resistance

- Lara Kirsten

photo: Gilles Chevalier

i look deep into the water
try to find its voice to teach me the rhythm of its flow
ah, i hear you water
i feel you water
i smell you water
i taste you water
i see you water
what will become
of me
without you?

- Lara Kirsten
photo: Gilles Chevalier
in touch with water
i am me
i am
in touch with water
you are you
cup the water of life in your own hands
and bring to your mouth
and be blessed

- Lara Kirsten

Tuesday, 17 July 2012


in wit wil ek wees
in wit wil ek myself skilder
geen skaamte op my wang laat bloos nie
in geen vrees my vlerke laat val nie
in wit skone wit wil ek wees
'n denkbeeldigheid
kan dit dalk op eerste sig lyk
maar wit so waaragtig as wit sal ek wees
ek wil nie meer wegkruip agter kleur en
fladder en spier en spring en vlieg nie
ek wil hier
en in wit sal dit moet wees
kleur my hele lyf wit in
laat geen ander kleur deurskyn
net wit
altyd wit
in wit wil ek praat 
in wit wil ek sing
in wit wil ek dig
in wit wil ek slaap
laat ek alle kleure verwit
laat wit my hele wese oorneem
elke spier
elke gedagte
elke tree
elke asem
laat dit in wit wees
kleur verlei
kleur maak deurmekaar

Monday, 16 July 2012

Gode van die Vurige Vrees

photographer David Cushing

photographer Gilles Chevalier
A very striking and memorable art installation at this year's AfrikaBurn Festival, The Fear Gods by artists Kim Goodwin & Elisabeth Balcomb inspired me to write this Afrikaans poem>

gode van die vurige vrees

die gode loop angstig al om my enkels
wag vir net die regte tyd om hulle tande in te sink
soos wilde oerdiere wag hulle met die aarde se tyd
lank groei hulle ledemate met hierdie wag
en nog langer groei hulle lus met elke nag
die gode loop onverskrokke oor die aarde
kyk nie links of regs
loop ongedeerd deur die lug en oor die klippe
hulle rugstringe buig met die wind
hulle knieë knak met die stof-blitse
hulle oë styg en sak met die son
nooit sal jy hulle uit die oog kan verloor
soos vrees sit hulle om jou keel
herinner jou aan die rigting waarheen jy moet trap
soontoe, soontoe

van daardie middag toe die gode oor my pad stap
was niks anders dieselfde daarna
met skouers, arms, borste, boude en bene
het die landskap gegil van
'n wilde dierlikheid
gefokus, stil, onstuitbaar
is hulle voete-pas vasgenael in die grond
met soveel oortuiging is hulle god
is hulle dier
is hulle mens

uit hulle oogholtes broei die donker wolke
kolk die lug in een heilspellende inkarnasie
wat god-weet enige oomblik los kan skeur
maar staan, staan hulle in die oog van die storm
vlug nie, lag nie,
geen histerie
net 'n kreun wat saggies deur die linker bo-been breek
staan, staan hulle
op die vlaktes
die gode van die Vurige Vrees –
julle hou die lug,
die hart 
en die aarde

The Burn of the Fear Gods
photographer Ed Franc Loverock Babb