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CERN and the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia announce the selected artists for the Connect and Connect South Africa residencies

Arts at CERN and Pro Helvetia announce the selected artists for the first edition of Connect, an international artistic residency programme

Selected artists for the Connect and Connect South Africa residencies 2021
From left to right: Kamil Hassim, selected artist for Connect South Africa; AATB (Andrea Anner and Thibault Brevet), selected artists for Connect; and Ian Purnell, selected artist for Connect South Africa (photo by Lena Ditte Nissen) (Image: CERN)

Arts at CERN and the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia are pleased to announce the selected artists for the first edition of Connect, an international programme intended to foster experimentation in the arts in connection with fundamental science. Two fully funded artistic residencies are to be awarded in 2021: Connect, a three-month residency at CERN aimed at Swiss artists, awarded to the artistic collective AATB; and Connect South Africa, a dual residency for a Swiss artist and an artist from South, West or East Africa, awarded to the artists Ian Purnell and Kamil Hassim.

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

“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 am eager to see how they will give them new form and meaning when they join the CERN community,” says Mónica 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.”

AATB, the collaborative practice of Swiss artists Andrea Anner and Thibault Brevet, is dedicated to the idea of experimenting with industrial robotic systems and automation processes. With their project, they aim to explore representations of space and time using industrial robotic arms, bringing both small atomic events and massive cosmological events into a human-scale format. With CERN researchers, they hope to define a precise framework and ideas to later develop an art installation. AATB will spend two months at CERN, followed by a remote residency of one month in dialogue with scientists at CERN and with the curatorial support of the Arts at CERN team.

The winners of Connect South Africa, the Swiss artist Ian Purnell and Kamil Hassim, a transdisciplinary artist from South Africa, 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). Ian Purnell 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, South African Kamil Hassim 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.

“We look forward to seeing how the two residencies will inspire 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 the Innovation & Society Sector at Pro Helvetia.

Both residencies are expected to start between February and April 2022, depending on organisational and travel limitations due to the global health emergency.

Further information:

About CERN

CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is one of the world's leading laboratories for particle physics. The Organization is located on the French-Swiss border, with its headquarters in Geneva. Its Member States are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Cyprus, Estonia and Slovenia are Associate Member States in the pre-stage to Membership. Croatia, India, Latvia, Lithuania, Pakistan, Turkey and Ukraine are Associate Member States. The European Union, Japan, JINR, the Russian Federation, UNESCO and the United States of America currently have Observer status.

About Arts at CERN

Arts at CERN is the arts programme of CERN and the leading worldwide art programme fostering dialogue between artists and physicists. Artists across all artistic disciplines are welcomed to the Laboratory to experience the way the big questions about our universe are pursued by fundamental science. Arts at CERN supports the artists in the research and exploration of new ideas in relation to science, through annual residencies and the production of new work, through the programme of new commissions and through exhibitions and events in collaboration with cultural partners.

About Pro Helvetia

The Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia has been working at the heart of the Swiss and international cultural scene since 1939. It fosters contemporary art production in Switzerland and helps disseminate and promote Swiss arts at home and abroad. The Arts Council also contributes to national and international cultural exchange and to innovation in the field of cultural promotion. Pro Helvetia has its head office in Zurich and maintains an international network abroad with liaison offices in Johannesburg, Cairo, Moscow, New Delhi, Shanghai and South America and the Centre culturel suisse in Paris