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Art Science and Technology Multi-discipline

Announcement: Connect South Africa selected artists

We’re pleased to announce the selected artists for the first edition of the international Connect artistic residency programme, a collaboration between Pro Helvetia and Arts at CERN aimed at fostering experimentation in the arts in connection to fundamental science.

Swiss artist Ian Purnell and South African transdisciplinary artist Kamil Hassim will spend three weeks together at CERN, followed by five weeks in the group of astronomy observatories connected to the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) and the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO).

“Space and time, black holes, the Standard Model of particle physics, cosmology concepts… these are some of the topics the selected artists are keen to explore during their residencies and I eagerly await to see how they will give them new form and meaning when they join the CERN community,” says Monica Bello, Curator and Head of Arts at CERN. “With Connect, I hope to offer artists a platform to bring forward new perspectives on the dialogue between art and science”

Ian works at the intersection of visual arts, documentary filmmaking and performing arts. In his project proposal titled The Black Hole Image, he aims to explore the visual concept of black holes and initiate a process of reflection on an alternative imaging of the universe. In his project proposal If Spacetime were a Canvas, Kamil intends to explore the standard model of particle physics, as well as Indigenous and diasporic South African spiritual and cosmological sensibilities and their relevance to the modern physics and astronomy research conducted by SARAO and SAAO. He aims to create resonant instruments that will serve to draw a connection between ancient wisdom and modern scientific knowledge.

__defunct context, a curatorial project based at the University of a Cape Town by Dr Tebogo George Mahashe, will convene the Connect South Africa residency between the selected artists and the two South African astronomical observatories. George says, “I look forward to foregrounding conversation as a mode of working between the artists and the scientists, especially because both selected projects gesture to an emphasis on personal sensibilities that re-centre the human in what sometimes seems like overwhelming technological infrastructure.”

Connect South Africa is the first international residency of the four year Connect programme launched by Arts at CERN in collaboration with the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia. Over the coming years, Connect will open a series of artistic residency opportunities to take place at CERN (Geneva, Switzerland) and in partner scientific organisations in Chile, Brazil and India.

“We look forward to seeing how the residencies will inspire the dialogue and exchange between the selected artists and the scientists at CERN; and how it will ultimately lead to new ways of thinking and collaborating,” says Seraina Rohrer, Head of Innovation & Society Sector at Pro Helvetia.


Kamil Hassim is a transdisciplinary artist and musician. His work is often expressed through the mediums of instrument making, video, sculpture, digital art, sound, music and painting. His current projects explore how our relative cultural paradigms influence the ways in which we interface with the universe and the kinds of information that become activated through these perspectives. With this interest he is currently thinking through themes of art, science, indigenous knowledge systems and their intersections.

Ian Purnell works in the intersection of visual arts, documentary filmmaking and performing arts. He studied experimental film and documentary formats at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne and montage at the University of Film and Television Potsdam-Babelsberg. Ian’s film and installation works are being showcased internationally. His hybrid feature length film in development, Arctic Link, was awarded with the 2020 Berlinale Kompagnon-Fellowship.