In an ongoing project I am conducting a series of interviews on the paths that ascend and cross the Table Mountain. By sharing stories, memories and experiences with Cape Town residents on these walks, I sought to better understand the complex social dynamics my conversation partners face every day. Traversing the mountain alongside a stranger, our personal narratives arose in close proximity but yet at a distance from familiar social and urban contexts, even as the confines of the city continued to surround us. Our physical exhaustion, the unstable landscape, our isolation, and our reliance on one another provided the occasion for connections across barriers of culture, experience, and difference, provoking both me and my conversation partners to moments of reflection about the impermanence of social, historical and environmental boundaries. Reflecting on our own particular circumstances and confronted by the challenging, formidable landscape, we both formed and sought connections capable of spanning what divides us, one from another, in South Africa and elsewhere.

One of the western associations with the Table mountain is that of the double faced roman deity Janus – a god of beginnings, transitions and endings. The two peaks of the Table mountain have been interpreted as the two faces of Janus. As I explore my own isolation and longing for connection, collecting stories and meeting strangers I come to embrace the physical and social landscapes of unfamiliar places. As I am well aware from my own experience, one has to reinvent oneself whenever one enters a new country or culture. Identity literally changes in relationship with the place, space and time which one inhabits. To find a place within such impermanence requires an understanding of these changes. Travel, gathering and organizing material are therefore an integral part of my artistic process; I am involved in a constant search through cultures, disciplines of thought and through the streets. Most importantly, this artistic practice is a tool for everyday life where movement becomes a ritual, an obsession and a way to discover my own identity in the encounter with others.



 Leonid Tsvetkov