Pro Helvetia Johannesburg is pleased to announce the award of studio residencies to George Mahashe and Vanessa Lorenzo in the context of our residency exchange programme in the field of astronomy, facilitated by artists in labs at the Institute for Cultural Studies at the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHDK). The artists were selected against a highly competitive field of proposals, by a panel comprised of Irene Hediger of artists in labs, Nontobeko Ntombela (WITS School of Arts), Simon Maurer of Helmhaus Zurich, South African artist Miranda Moss (and former artist in lab).
George Mahashe lives and works in Johannesburg. With photography as his focal point, George looks at the imagination manipulation and restoration of history. He is interested in photography’s ability to foster dialogue between people, young or old, rural or urban. He argues that people tend to open up and respond when a photograph is presented because we all have an experience of photography, either as the subject, the photographer or as the viewer/audience. It is this quality that fascinates him and compels him to strive towards an understanding of what is it about photography that makes it so. His recent work focuses on the camera obscura as a medium to metaphorically dissociate photography from its traditional cultural context since its invention in 1839. George is particularly interested in how photography is implicated in almost all visual arts practices, and its ability to transgress boundaries between the different disciplines of art and the wider humanities. Focusing on the research on exoplanets, George will be working on his artistic project in close collaboration with researchers of the Astronomy Department in Versoix/Geneva.
Vanessa Lorenzo lives and works in Lausanne. Her practice is situated at the intersection of Media, Design and Biology. She creates fictional scenarios to contextualize the use of technology and DIY Biology through imagined objects; hybrid ecologies that usually embed the radical poetry of the more-than-human in order to affect the perception of our environment. She researches about the potential of design to influence the social imaginary. Based on that research Vanessa seeks to discover and develop non-anthropocentric landscapes and alternative futures. Also, she nourishes (from) and believes (in) the “middle-ground” (communities of hackers / artists / citizens working in alternative spaces), that, from Vanessa’s point of view, has the power to subvert the dominating role of traditional science and technology spheres. Vanessa believes that this could lead to a more inclusive knowledge production. Vanessa will join the team of the South African Astronomical Observatory SAAO in Cape Town to work on her artistic project.