Exhibition on humans, land and astronomy

The founders of the exhibition, Tommaso Fiscaletti, Nic Grobler and musician Alessandro Gigli at the Iziko Museum.

The Iziko South African Museum will, until Sunday April 22, be home to first time exhibition,Hemelliggaam or The Attempt To Be Here Now: Chapter 1. The exhibition, which was launched on Thursday March 8, is the first chapter of an artistic project by Tommaso Fiscaletti and Nic Grobler, exploring the relationship between humans, the land and astronomy.

Lucia Marchetti, of the scientific team involved in the project, said the goal was to share the artists’ ideas about the connection between astronomy and society, and make astronomy accessible to the community.

“We wanted to share our passion and make it available to the people.”

She said the exhibition was called Chapter 1 as it was the first part of an archive of information that the team would be working on until 2020, which will mark 200 years in astronomy, a celebration managed by the South African Astronomical Observatory.

The National Research Foundation is the core funder of the project as part of the development of the history of astronomy in South Africa.

Ms Marchetti said the exhibition was at the Iziko South African Museum because it brought all the elements the exhibition stands for, together.

“The planetarium is also here, and they are wanting to explore the African content, so we hope to appear there one day.”

Mr Grobler, who mainly dealt with videography in the exhibition, said the idea came from the curiosity to explore.

“It was like bringing the place to you. The exhibition is mainly about our experiences,however, we were open to look at everyone’s connection with science and astronomy.”

Ms Marchetti pointed out a picture of Anna Skippers, a woman from the Northern Cape who shared her story about shooting stars. There is also a video installation of her telling her story in Afrikaans.

“We kept the video in Afrikaans to keep the authenticity.”

Another picture was of Temba Matomela, a planetarium outreach officer, who shared his expertise of meteorites, and how they’re regarded as a bad luck omen in the Xhosa community.

“It’s a glimpse of people’s connection to the sky,” said Mr Grobler.

Mr Fiscaletti said the project was a conversation of him and Mr Grobler’s relationship with the sky.

“Nick is very into the sci-fi culture and he spoke about it a lot, so we worked with that, together with our interests and our friendship.”

He said the centre of the project was the natural aspect and the human experiences, as well as the use of light, as he had worked mostly with the photography.

“This project was very experiential for us, and we will still be going at it for about one and a half more years.”

The curator, Filippo Maggia, said Hemelliggaam or The Attempt To Be Here Now explored the almost mystical relationship that binds mankind to the heavens from multiple perspectives: from the point where, lifting one’s gaze over the horizon, the sky begins above the known world, to a point far beyond, where the curious eye of man, carried by science, has taken it.

The exhibition is accompanied by sound compositions by musician Alessandro Gigli, who said the music was very interesting to compose as he had had to capture the essence of the exhibition.

“It sort of sounds like the desert, but with suspension – it should resemble the sound of the planet, of space.”

He said the music also plays on an African beat.

“The idea was to try to use a natural instrument and manipulate it. It seems to be working, but this is the first one, so we will tweak it as we go along to fit with the theme.

“Apart from the main photographic and video installation inside the museum, it will be accompanied by an outdoor, free exhibition between the trees of the Company’s Garden.”

Hemelliggaam or The Attempt To Be Here Now: Chapter 1 is on show at the Iziko South African Museum, 25 Queen Victoria Street in the city centre.

The museum is open daily from 10am until 5pm. Entry is R30 for adults, R15 for children from 6 to 18 years old, and R15 for pensioners and students. A family ticket (two adults and two children) costs R75. Call 021 481 3800.