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Artist in Residence

Dogs, Maids and Lovers: Calvinia by Rudi van der Merwe

Rudi van der Merwe will be on residency this December to develop a news piece titled Dogs, Maids and Lovers: Calvinia,  a documentary film project about heritage and identity.

Born and raised in Calvinia in the Northern Cape, Rudi now lives in the ‘City of Calvin’ (Geneva) in Switzerland. Seeking to place his personal history within a larger socio-political context, the project is an attempt to take stock of the good, the bad and the ugly of his upbringing and what remains of it twenty years down the line by revisiting the people and places of his youth.

The film will observe how Calvinia deals with post-apartheid reality and the spatial legacy of apartheid found in all South African towns. Of special interest is the Abraham Esau Hospital that stands on the ridge separating the town from the township. Built with Swedish funds in the 2000s and named after a contested coloured hero from the Anglo-Boer war, the hospital embodies Calvinia’s attempts at a more integrated society. The hospital is also a springboard for an exploration into the different attitudes towards sickness and death in the various communities of Calvinia.

Rudi will be accompanied by the Geneva-based photographer and filmmaker Erika Irmler.