Gwendolyn Meyer


These are the names of Cape Town Rivers. Many of them do not appear on urban maps, and maps are not all in agreement about some of the names and locations. Nevertheless, after some research this is my best rendition of Cape Town’s many fresh water flows. By naming them I bring them into being in my own understanding of Cape Town’s geography. The two titles reflect the ocean that the rivers flow into.

The ‘poem’ below was written for the context of this show. In it I describe my belief that rivers are not an ‘it’ of nature, but a type of nature consciousness, a species in themselves.

The work is part of an ongoing study of rivers.

Rivers are not a species
but they may as well be
they are types of biomes
kinds of ecologies
a sort of life-giving thing.

Rivers are not species
but sustain every other type of species
-millions trillions-
they runoff from the mountain towers
and flow as veins of the planet.

Rivers are not species
but they are lost
to canals, dams, silt, dredging,
degraded, covered up, used up,
they carry the waste of
the human species.

Rivers are not species
but cannot be untangled from the species
that seems determined to destroy them
forget their names
enforce their anonymity.

Rivers are not species
to name and say
back into being.

Gwendolyn Meyer is an artist working in photography, on paper, with land art, curating, writing and co-creating participatory knowledge processes. Since completing a MPhil in Sustainable Development she has increasingly explored the visual as a form and platform, to consider ideas about human nature and participation in change at this planetary turning point. She locates her work in the Transdisciplinary move to transform how humans interact and frame their place within nature. She has a long standing interest in how rivers connect people to place.

Title of work:  Atlantic_Indian
Description: Ink on Paper
Size: Diptych, 400 x 400
Edition: of 3
Date: 2018

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