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Michela Valsania
Over the course of her recent residency at Greatmore Studios in South Africa, Michela Valsania worked with the local community to explore the cultural identity of Cape Town’s residents. Participants were invited to Michela’s studio to create a series of installations using objects, images and other materials in order to visualize their ideas. Michela Valsania is currently undertaking  2 month fellowship at Greatmore Studios, Cape Town. Her practice centres around a visual response to her surroundings. Interested in exploring culture and daily activities Michela creates installations that generate a dialogue between people from different countries, presenting and connecting them to each other.

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Michela Valsania writes about her experiences during his residency:
During my period of stay at Greatmore Studios I decided to share my space with four people living in different area of Cape Town interested to explore creatively their individuality and perform it in a new space. Looking at the apparent “empty space”, the studio became a platform where conversations and interactions took place. The participants and I navigated the inside and outside space to investigate the relationship between ourselves and the surroundings.

Chapter 1
Michela Valsania/Patsy George

Through the projects coordinator at Greatmore Studios, Michela was introduced to Patsy George, who lives opposite the studios and whose family has provided security and support  for the building and visiting artists at Greatmore for many years. Michela became interested in discussing Patsy's personal identity, however Patsy did not feel comfortable with this concept and so Michela introduced the idea of exploring identity through memory, place and objects. Below are some images from the visual conversations between Patsy and Michela, that took place around Patsy's table. 

 

Chapter 2
Michela Valsania/Noncedokazie Ntanjana

Noncedokazie Ntanjana lives in Khayelitsha, one of the township in Western Cape, in the city of Cape Town. She has been previously involved in workshop organized by People's Education taking place at Greatmore Studios. The first time the pair met, they discussed the concept of culture, which was visually recorded on transparent paper on the table. Through this process, Michela learnt of Noncendo's involvement  in theatre productions with the Popular Eductaion Group. Also during these meetings and discussions, Noncendo's interest in knitting surfaced, which stemmed from watching her mother knit. Both elements were combined into a performance.

Chapter 3
Michela Valsania/ Sizwe Maqele

As with all the participants, the starting point for the conversation between Michela and Sizwe was the simple recording materials of pen and paper,  During their meeting, they talked about inequality, place and socially engaged community projects- Sizwe is strongly engaged with community projects within Khaylitsha, where he currently lives. 

Below are some images taken by Michela and Sizwe:

Back in the studio, they decided to select the images most significant to the journey.

Thinking about the space, how we look at it and how our perception change positioning ourself in different point, Sizwe decided to place the picture on the floor to create a relation with the ground, the soil, that place where everything grows

This concluded in an installation I am that I am, consisting of soil, monochrome inkjet prints and recycled material. 

Chapter 4
Michela Valsania/ Vusisizwe Jason Mpn

Michela's final encounter was with  Vusisizwe Jason Mpn- a performer and singer, also belonging to the Popular Education Group. They discussed notions of culture and ways of celebrating culture in our daily life without stereotyping or commercialising it.

Vusisizwe brought attention to the importance of storytelling in his tradition and the concept of responsibility that it is at the base of it. 

Together they realised a photographic diptych, here are some images from the final installation

Michela Valsania/Vusisizwe Jason Mpn 
"Where the story begins" (1/2)

Michela Valsania/Vusisizwe Jason Mpn

"Where the story begins" (2/2)