What we do

The activities of the COSMO-ART team are shared between fieldwork, theoretical exploration, dissemination and outreach actions

For its operation and the achievement of the project’s objectives, COSMO-ART’s activities include meetings, field missions and actions aimed at the general public. The latter aim at communicating the scientific objectives of COSMO-ART, the different phases of the project and the results obtained.

3rd biannual COSMO-ART meeting

  • Chambéry, France
  • 31 January – 2 Februrary 2024
  • The Team

This annual meeting was an opportunity to take stock of COSMO-ART’s activities as the project reaches its half-way point.

During the first half-day, the people who had joined the programme since the last meeting were introduced (Juliette Barthelemy, Benoît Caron, Curtis Jeaven, Annael Le Poullennec and Tshenolo Moletsane) and a summary of the 2023 activities was given, in particular the joint fieldwork in Namibia and the two exhibitions prepared by the COSMO-ART teams in Namibia (A Tribute to Rock Art in Namibia) and South Africa (Places in Me). Two COSMO-ART related activities were also presented: the first RAHMSA workshop (Documenting Rock Art, Namibia) and the Geoextour project, which aims to analyse how protection (landscapes, rock art) and extraction issues interact in the Gondwana Geopark (Namibia).

On Wednesday and Thursday morning, research works were presented by:

Thursday afternoon was devoted to discussions around the notion of ‘values’ and how to manage them within the project in order to achieve our goals of implementing a Cosmopolitan Approach. We had presentations by Marie Forget (values in human and social geography) and Gwendoline Torterat (values in archaeology approached through audiovisual anthropology), followed by a discussion chaired by Julien Monney on how to spatialise values in order to integrate them into a GIS tool.

Friday morning was a time of planning for 2024, with Hugo Quemin’s doctoral research and Juliette Barthelemy and Shanty Fisher‘s master’s theses that are already scheduled, as well as plans for other French and Southern African students. We also planned future fieldwork sessions, RAHMSA workshop (Presenting Rock Art, France) participation in international conferences and publications.

2nd annual COSMO-ART meeting

  • Chambéry, France
  • 31 January – 2 Februrary 2023
  • The Team

During this plenary meeting, we discussed the current and future research actions, while continuing the collective work around the notion of ‘values’.

The first half-day was dedicated to the presentation of the actions carried out during the first year of the COSMO-ART project. A specific time was dedicated to the new IRN RAHMSA project, a research project aiming to organise workshops on different aspects of rock art over the next five years. An update was given on the work of the Honours and Masters students, which is scheduled to start in spring 2023. Anaïs Empereur-Buisson presented her Master 2 project on the state of conservation of the Wonderwerk Cave paintings, and Hugo Quemin his Master 2 project on heritage logics in the Erongo massif. Lourenço Pinto also presented the lines of work that had been selected for several Honours projects by students at the Heritage Studies Department of the University of Sol Plaatje.

Following the reflections of the team on heritage values, Wednesday morning was devoted to this point. On the basis of the meeting held at the beginning of January, Mélanie Duval, Loïc Jeanson and Julien Monney delivered several elements that allows the exchanges to continue in a critical and structured manner, with the prefiguration of a first collective methodological article. The afternoon was reserved for the more detailed organisation of the two upcoming joint fieldworks for 2022, with the March/April joint fieldwork in the Erongo Massif (Namibia), and the June/July fieldwork in Kimberley (South Africa).

Finally, on Thursday morning, discussions were held with those involved in the photographic exhibition project, which is due to open in Platfontein at the beginning of July. Based on the work carried out by Leïla Baracchini using the photovoice method, this exhibition consists of a selection of photographs taken and commented on by members of the Khwe and the !Xun communities on their relationship with the heritage of their landscape environment.

Seminar « values »

The aim of this one-day seminar was to continue, with a smaller group, the reflections on the notion and term ‘values’ started in September 2022 and to prepare the continuation of the joint work on this aspect. Mélanie Duval, Loïc Jeanson and Julien Monney met in Chambéry for one day.

Having recently joined the COSMO-ART project, Loïc explained how he had approached the question of heritage values as part of his doctoral research and since then as part of his post-doctoral research. Specialised in the history of science and digital humanities, he presented his way of analysing discursive materials in order to identify the value registers mobilised by the enunciating actors as well as the characteristic elements of these value registers. Using modelling tools, he then explained how he links these registers and their characteristics in order to show the construction of the values on which any process of patrimonialisation is based.

1st annual COSMO-ART meeting

  • Chambéry, France
  • 8 – 9 September 2022
  • The Team

These two days of meetings and collective discussions were organised around several distinct times.

The first day was devoted to a more in-depth presentation of the study areas selected for research within COSMO-ART, i.e. the rock art sites around the Kimberley region (Wildebeest Kuil, Wonderwerk cave, Nooitgedacht, Driekospeiland) as well as the rock art sites in the Erongo Massif and Spitzkoppe in Namibia. This in-depth presentation of the sites was enriched by the presentation of the first research work undertaken on the Wildebeest Kuil site with the presentation of Hugo Quemin’s Master 1 work in geography, the presentation of the first results of Leïla Baracchini’s post-doctoral work in social anthropology and the presentation of the Geographic Information System created by Julien Monney. These presentations were accompanied by in-depth discussions on the contributions of this comparative approach. The team also discussed the research actions planned for the rest of 2022, taking stock of the procedure for submitting data to the Data Management Plan and presenting a first draft of the website’s structure.

The second day was devoted to in-depth discussions on the issue of values. At the heart of the COSMO-ART project, the question of the values attributed to rock art sites by different groups poses several challenges (epistemological, methodological, etc.). The various annual seminars of COSMO-ART represent an opportunity for the collective to discuss these issues in depth. During this seminar, Jean-Jacques Delannoy presented how he mobilised this question of values in his own research in antropho-geomorphology. Finally, the group discussed the use of video tools for the COSMO-ART project and the interest of making a film on the research project and the main contributions of the research undertaken.

COSMO-ART kick-off meeting

  • Chambéry, France
  • 10 January – 2 February 2022
  • The Team

For two and a half days, the team members met in a hybrid mode that facilitated everyone’s participation. After the first half-day, during which each member successively presented his or her field of research and expertise, the objectives of the COSMO-ART research project were reviewed and discussed. Everyone was able to specify their involvement in the various research actions planned. The student work planned in the project was also discussed and refined, with an initial forecast for the four years of the project. Part of the discussions also focused on the methods of organising the collective work, with the setting up of a collaborative work space as well as discussions on the structuring of the Data Management Plan and the data contributed by the collective. For the members present on site, their accommodation in the same guesthouse allowed for quality time for inter-knowledge, which is necessary for any project start-up that is both multi-annual and multi-disciplinary.

Fieldwork: Archival research

For a fortnight, 12 researchers involved in the COSMO-ART project worked together on two themes: 1/ finalising the « Places in me » exhibition; 2/ analysing the man-made structures on the Wildebeest Kuil site.

Joint fieldwork: geomorphology and archaeology – Photovoice Exhibition and Heritage Issues

For a fortnight, 12 researchers involved in the COSMO-ART project worked together on two themes: 1/ finalising the « Places in me » exhibition; 2/ analysing the man-made structures on the Wildebeest Kuil site.

Theme 1: The « Places in me » exhibition is the result of research co-constructed during Leïla Baracchini’s post-doc with young people from the Khwe and !Xun communities in Platfontein. These two communities live close to the Wildebeest Kuil site and one of the challenges of the COSMO-ART project is to question their relationship with this site. To this end, a photovoice protocol has been set up. In concrete terms, the project participants were eqquiped by cameras. In order to address the issue of heritage, they took photos of what was important to them in their environment. Based on these photos, interviews were then held with the people who had taken them, to find out what they had to say about them. Extracts were then selected and displayed alongside the photographs. The exhibition is made up of the images and the words of the young people of Platfontein, giving an insight into their heritage from their point of view. On this basis, a photographic exhibition, « Places in me », was created, with financial and logistical support from IFAS-Recherche, the McGregor Museum, NCTA and PANSALB. The aim of this field trip was to work with the SANCD, SASDO and SPU project partners to finalise the exhibition, with two openings, the first at Xunkhewsa combined school and the second at Sol Plaatje University. A workshop on heritage was also organised with the Khwe and !Xun communities of Platfontein. With the support of NCTA, buses were used to transport participants to the Wildebeest Kuil site. At the site, after discussions with the research team, focus groups were held to gather their views on heritage and this rock art site in particular.

Theme 2: Analysis of man-made structures at the Wildebeest Kuil site

Involving archaeologists and geomorphologists, this part of the mission began with a reconnaissance of the three engraved sites in the region to see which offered the most potential for establishing a chronology of human activity. The Wildebeest Kuil site was chosen. On this site, the distribution of cave art was mapped. The team also drew up a map of the man-made structures on the site, combining this with a study of the rocks chosen for the engravings. Thanks to all these elements, it was possible to draw up a relative chronology of all the human interventions on the site, from the first engravings to the recent Kraal-type developments. The chronological indicators were essentially the study of patinas and boulder shapes, which may or may not reflect reworking by man or by natural elements. Ultimately, these observations will be compared with the typology of engravings established during the April 2022 mission. Initial links are emerging between the nature of the rocks and the distribution of the engravings.

Heritage values and constructed issues

  • Erongo, Spitzkoppe & Tsumkwe, Namibia
  • 21 March – 4 Mai 2023
  • Hugo Quemin

In the course of this collective mission, I first wanted to look at the connections between small-scale mining activities and policies for the preservation and promotion of rock art sites in the Erongo Massif and at Spitzkoppe.

For this purpose, a global overview of the issues at stake in the rock art sites had to be carried out in order to situate my interests in the perspective of the current issues in these areas. For this purpose, interviews were conducted with various actors (institutions, farmers, guides, archaeologists…) and were complemented by informal discussions (inhabitants of Spitzkoppe and the Okombahe community). A particular focus on the discourses of the actors and the way they mobilise rock art heritage allowed me to focus on a related issue: the way rock art sites are mobilised for specific purposes beyond the sole purpose of preservation.

Later, I was also able to spend four days in the national archives in Windhoek, a time that allowed me to acquire important information, such as the history of rock art site preservation in Namibia.

Finally, this time in Namibia allowed me to further develop my PhD project by completing the initial overview from October 2022, answering some previously established questions and extending my focus to a more specific analysis of the differentiated interests of actors towards rock art and the selective and exclusionary processes surrounding their preservation issues.

San cultural village – which tourism?

The field studies carried out in the Erongo massif highlighted the involvement of San communities from the Tsumkwe region, some 700 km to the north-east. Understanding the involvement of the San in the heritage and tourism dynamics of the Erongo massif meant visiting the conservancies of Nyae Nyae and N#a-Jaqna. Within the two conservancies, field observations and interviews with various resource people enabled us to meet the villages involved in exchanges with the Erongo massif, and to understand this organisation in relation to the two other San cultural villages in the area, namely The Living Museum of the Ju/’Hoansi-San (Grashoek) and The « Living Hunter’s Museum » of the Ju/’Hoansi-San (Tsumkwe).

Joint fieldwork: 3D models – GIS – analysis of heritage issues

Over a period of ten days, 11 researchers involved in the COSMO-ART project met in the Erongo massif. The work was organised around three main themes:

  • Geomophology: 3D surveys and drone photography of rock shelters investigated by archaeological colleagues, with the aim of advancing our understanding of the dynamics of landscape formation and constructing a relative chronology of the occupation of sites and the production of rock art.
  • Spatial analysis: definition of an operating protocol with a view to setting up a database of the massif’s rock art sites. During this week, research focused on the sites located on the Omandumba West farm. Combining phases of data entry and systematic inventory within the boundaries of the farm, these actions also enabled the photographs to be taken that will be used for the photographic exhibition to be held in Windhoek in September 2023.
  • Analysis of heritage dynamics: observation and analysis of the ways in which rock art sites are protected and promoted as tourist attractions; several semi-directive interviews with different types of stakeholder involved in the preservation and promotion of rock art sites in the Erongo massif and the Spitzkoppe massif; contextualisation of these heritage issues in relation to mining issues.

In terms of multi-disciplinary work, the decision to be in the field for the same period of time, staying in the same place and having meals together enabled all the teams to share their practices with each other, thereby encouraging cross-disciplinary work. In addition, more formalised working sessions provided an opportunity to discuss the types of results obtained by the different teams and to begin to forge links between these different approaches with a view to proposing a holistic approach to the issues associated with the preservation and enhancement of rock art sites in the Massif.

Workshop and exhibition projects – Mining issues

For one week, several COSMO-ART researchers met in Windhoek to work on:

  • Programmatic with 1/ progress in the organisation of a workshop in Namibia in September 2023 on the documentation issues associated with rock art sites. With this in mind, discussions with the UNAM partners have enabled the first outlines of this forthcoming scientific event to be drawn up. In addition to these programmatic aspects, meetings have also enabled 2/ progress to be made on the photographic exhibition project, which will take place in September 2023 at the Franco-Namibian cultural centre. As part of National Heritage Week (18-22 September 2023), this photographic exhibition entitled « Heritage and Culture: a rock-solid foundation – A tribute to rock art in Namibia » will showcase several rock art sites in the Erongo massif, a massif invested in as part of the ANR COSMO-ART project. This week in Windhoek enabled various partners to meet: FNCC, COSMO-ART team, Museums Association of Namibia, National Museum of Namibia, and National Heritage Council. The meetings enabled progress to be made on the content of the exhibition and associated events.
  • Research: contextualisation of the issues surrounding the protection and enhancement of rock art sites in relation to mining issues in Namibia. To this end, interviews were conducted with several departments of the Ministry of Mines and Energy, the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism and the National Heritage Council. These interviews enabled us to understand the differences between large-scale mining and small-scale mining, in terms of the types of operations, the issuing of operating permits and the ways in which local populations are involved. In return, these contextual elements provide a better understanding of the issues linked to the protection and enhancement of rock art sites in the Erongo massif, insofar as this massif is marked by the presence of several areas of small-scale mining.

Conservation of the paintings in Wonderwerk Cave

Anaïs stayed about nine weeks in South Africa to carry out her research project on the conservation of the paintings in Wonderwerk Cave to obtain her Master’s degree in Archaeology at the University of Bordeaux. During her stay she was hosted by the University of Sol Plaatje and accompanied by her supervisor, Stéphane Hœrlé, for most of her stay.

Her first two weeks were spent in Kimberley to search paper and photographic archives kept at the McGregor Museum and its satellite, the Duggan-Cronin Gallery. She also took advantage of this time in Kimberley to meet and interview people who could provide her with insights into the history of the cave, the conversation interventions that took place there and the management and operation of this public site.

Anaïs and Stéphane then moved to a place near Daniëlskuil, close to the cave, so that Anaïs could start her fieldwork. She identified the factors affecting the conservation of the paintings and monitored several of them, selected test areas where she focused her recording of the paintings, there alterations and previous conservation intervention. She also collected some samples of deposits and alteration products that she analysis in the Archaeology laboratory at Sol Plaatje University.

Photovoice

For this third fieldwork linked to the realisation of her post-doc, Leïla’s first objective was to see all the participants in the photovoice project, i.e. 18 members from the two communities. Indeed, since the August mission, Leïla has been working on the transcription of the interviews with the authors of the photographs, as well as on the selection of extracts that she proposes to put next to the photographs in the framework of the upcoming exhibition. The main motivation for this third and final field mission was to have the photographs and texts selected for the exhibition validated by the project participants.

These weeks in the field were also used to meet with the different partners of the project, namely the two NGOs with a local branch (SANCD and SASDO) and members of the Sol Plaatje University and the McGregor Museum. With six months to go before the opening, there is still a lot to organise between the different partners to make this event a success!

Heritage values and constructed issues

Hugo spent ten days participating in an archaeological excavation project on Omandumba West Farm in the Erongo Massif (Namibia), as part of a team led by David Pleurdeau (MNHM). During this time, he – 1) learned the practical aspects of archaeological excavation at Seal Rock Shelter; 2) met with some of the actors and partners working on this field or in southern Africa; 3) visited various rock art and archaeological sites with his team; 4) prepared his return to Namibia between March and May 2023 by meeting with various institutions in Windhoek and referencing the documentation available on site.

Conservation

The trip to South Africa focused on the preparation of the research subject at Wonderwerk for an upcoming Masters student from the University of Bordeaux and the identification equipment available at Sol Plaatje University to be used by the student as well as for further studies of processes affecting rock art conservation. The potential for conservation studies at several rock art site previously screened for research within COSMO-ART (Driekopseiland, Nooitgedacht and Wonderwerk) was also evaluated.  Finally, the preparation of an exhibition drawing on Leïla Baracchini’s post-doctoral work on participative photography was carried on with partners at the McGregor Museum, Platfontein (SANCD and SASDO) and the Sol Plaatje University.

Photovoice

The five weeks spent in the field in Kimberley gave rise to a second photovoice with nine participants, men and women, aged between 19 and 30, from the !Xun and Khwe communities of Platfontein. The development of this photovoice started with a workshop on the theme: what is heritage for me? The aim of this group discussion was to get the participants to explore the ideas that come up spontaneously when talking about heritage and to bring out the concerns/interests that they themselves relate to the heritage issue (and therefore also what is excluded from it). The participants were asked to generate terms/ideas that the concept of heritage raises for them, and then to discuss these terms in groups to try to define them and how they relate to heritage. They were then invited to discuss several proposals related to the concept of heritage. This workshop was also an opportunity to: go back over the aims and progress of the study, present the progress of the exhibition project, have the new participants read and sign the consent forms, distribute disposable cameras or memory cards (as desired). The 54 photographs from this workshop were then used in a series of individual interviews with each of the participants.

In addition, in order to get a broader view of the interests and issues surrounding the presence of Wildebeest Kuil, several individual interviews were conducted with political representatives of Platfontein as well as with elders who had been involved with the Wildebeest Kuil site (as artists, storytellers or craftsmen).

Several discussions regarding the planning of the exhibition and its technical components also took place with the two NGO partners of the project, SANCD and SASDO, with the McGregor Museum and with the Department of Heritage Studies of the University of Sol Plaatje, which plans to offer Honoured students the opportunity to follow the exhibition process.

GIS

With the objective of advancing the spatial analysis of the Wildebeest Kuil site, Julien Monney carried out a first three-week mission. These were devoted to setting up a GIS (in QGIS format) capable of centralising and analysing the spatial data produced within the framework of the COSMO-ART project. This required

  • meetings with the human and social science researchers involved in the project to identify their needs for geospatial data and to discuss the modalities of recording the values and practices associated with the sites;
  • an inventory of existing spatial data at regional level;
  • a literature review of the rock engravings at the Wildebeest Kuil site;
  • a preliminary spatial recording of the rock engravings at Wildebeest Kuil;
  • preliminary archaeological and geomorphological observations at the Wildebeest Kuil site in order to assess in detail the procedures to be implemented during the survey phase in June-July 2023.

Photovoice

In the launching phase of her post-doc in social anthropology, a first stay of seven weeks allowed Leïla to progress on the following points

  • Meeting the various partners on site 1) Institutional partners: David Morris (McGregor Museum), Lourenço Pinto (Sol Plaatje University); 2) Local organisations (NGO, NPO, radio): SANCD, SASDO, X-K FM; 3) Translators: !Xun and Khwe; 4) Cultural institutions: !Khwa ttu.
  • Team visits to the main rock art and archaeological sites in the region (Wildebeest Kuil, Canteen Kopje), as well as several tourist sites. 
  • Documentation at the Africana Library and the Sol Plaatje Museum: digitisation of archives including press articles on Schmidtsdrifts, Platfontein and Wildebeest Kuil.
  • Conducting individual interviews with various stakeholders (Korana leader, Griqua leader, SANCD and SASDO representatives, young people trained in tourism in !Khwa ttu)
  • The start of the « photovoice » project. This project is at the heart of the post-doctoral work conducted by Leïla. With the aim of questioning the relationship of individuals to their space in terms of the heritage values attributed to them, people from the two San communities living near the Wildebeest Kuil site were asked to take photographs according to the researcher’s instructions. Afterwards, the authors of the photographs were invited to conduct an interview with the researcher, the purpose of this exchange being to explain the photographs taken. As part of the launch of the photovoice approach, exchanges with the communities enabled twelve young people to declare their interest in participating in the project. A first series of photographs and interviews were taken, which will be completed by a second workshop during the next mission in August 2022. This data collection project through the photovoice approach is accompanied by a project to exhibit the photographs taken by members of the two communities, with an opening in July 2023.

Kick-off tour

From 13 March to 16 April 2022, Stéphane Hœrlé and Mélanie Duval traveled in South Africa and Namibia to launch COSMO-ART. The objectives were to

  • attend the Southern African Montain Conference (SAMC) and give a talk to announce the launch of COSMO-ART;
  • meet the COSMO-ART partners in South Africa and Namibia;
  • discuss the possibilities of formalising students exchanges with the signature of exchange agreements between partner universities,
  • identify additional funding opportunities;
  • carry out fieldwork around Kimberley with David Morris (McGregor Museum) and Lourenço Pinto (Sol Plaatje University);
  • prepare the fieldwork planned in the Kimberley area for Hugo Quemin’s Master 1 and Leïla Baracchini’s post-doc;
  • to lay the groundwork for the research activities planned in the Erongo Massif in Namibia from 2023 onwards. To this end, in the company of David Pleurdeau and Alma Nankela, several days of fieldwork were carried out in the Erongo.

Tourism construction

  • Kimberley, South Africa
  • 2 March – 28 May 2022
  • Hugo Quemin

Hugo spent three months in South Africa:

  • Two weeks of slow itinerancy to apprehend the actuality of the South African society (1000 km on bike between Pietermaritzburg and Kimberley);
  • One and a half month of situated studies, meetings, discussions, participation and data collection, between Kimberley, Cape Town and Johannesburg;
  • One month of writing and ongoing discussions and reflections during which some of them proved to be essential to the good establishment of the study.

Conservation of the Wonderwerk Cave paintings (Northern Cape, South Africa)

Anaïs Empereur-Buisson gave a talk on the research project she carried out to obtain her Masters 2 degree in Archaeology & Science for Archaeology, specialty in Prehistory Geoarchaeology and Archaeozoology, at the University of Bordeaux.

5th Humanities Seminar Series Online Talk, Sol Plaatje University, South Africa, 6 December 2023.

Café Science EDYTEM

The objective of the Café Science events organised every Thursday at EDYTEM is to explain the main lines of ongoing research projects, recently obtained results or newly published publications.

Mélanie Duval presented to the staff and students of EDYTEM the last activities of COSMO-ART and its sister project RAHMSA in Namibia: « Documenting Rock Art sites », the first installment in the RAHMSA Training Workshop Series, and the exhibition « A Tribute to Rock Art in Namibia » that was specially prepared for the last Namibian Heritage Week.

GDR Rift Webinars

The Great African Rift Interdisciplinary Group (GDR Rift) is an inter-institute structure which federates the communities of the CNRS Ecology & Environment, CNRS Humanities & Social Sciences, CNRS Earth & Space institutes around the Great African Rift. The main goal is to characterise the interrelationships within this complex system including living organisms (including humans), geodynamic and climate processes.

Mélanie Duval gave an online talk as part on the GDR Rift Webinars series where she discussed the management of rock art in South Africa and presented the activities of COSMO-ART and RAHMSA.

Exhibition: A tribute to Rock Art in Namibia

The exhibited is hosted by the Franco Namibian Cultural Centre (FNCC) and was prepared in collaboration or with the support of the FNCC, Ministère de l’Europe et des Affaires Etrangères, the Muséum national d’histoire naturelle, the National Heritage Council of Namibia, Préhistropic, the Museums Association of Namibia, la Ville de Paris, the National Museum of Namibia and the UNESCO office in Windhoek.

As a graphic creation, Namibian rock art is a cultural expression of people who inhabited a large part of southern Africa. Namibia has several areas with high concentrations of rock art sites, including paintings and engravings. The well-known locality is in Central Namibia including Twyfelfontein World Heritage Site and the Brandberg Mountains. While these ones are often cited as examples, the archaeological landscape of the Erongo Mountains is little known to the general public. Linked with COSMO-ART and the research carried out by Archaeologists in this region for many years (Alma Nankela, David Pleurdeau and his team, etc.), the exhibition aims to bring about the quality of Erongo rock art heritage to the attention of the Namibian public.

The exhibition showcases large prints of rock art sites in the Erongo Mountains to highlight the symbolic expressions and high graphic quality of the paintings. This discovery of rock art sites is also accompanied by an exhibition of archaeological objects excavated at several rock art sites by Archaeologists working in these mountains to date. These objects provide unparalleled insights into themes within the hunter-gatherers’ tradition and better understanding of the culture of the people who produced this rock art.

In addition to an artistic dimension, the exhibition also has educational aims, with an expression corner and activities organised for school children.

Finally, the goal is to use the exhibition as an opportunity to discuss the complex challenges in preserving rock art heritage in Namibia and developing rock art sites for tourism, including the involvement of local communities and the sharing of benefits. Therefore, a panel discussion event was held on Wednesday 20 September.

To close the national heritage week, the exhibition space hosted a performance by the OYO dance group, combining the art of dance with that of the graphic arts.

Exhibition: Places in Me

The making of Places in Me

This exhibition project is the result of a collaboration between a French research team, COSMO-ART and two Platfontein-based NGOs, the Southern African the San Community Development (SANCD) and the San Development Organisation (SASDO) and. It is based on a participatory photography experiment, called photovoice, which was conducted by Leïla Baracchini, a post-doctoral fellow in the Cosmo-Art project, for several months in 2022 with a group of 15 young Platfontein residents, aged between 18 and 30.

The exhibition is supported by the French Institute in South Africa (IFAS-Recherche), the Northern Cape Tourism Authority and the McGregor Museum and is organised by a team joining forces from COSMO-ART, SANCD (Jakob Makai and Zagaria Kabinda) and SASDO (Moshe and Rena Maghundu).

The project is based on a common desire to capture and make visible the perspective that young people in Platfontein have of their place in South African society through the eyes of the place they live.

Equipped with photo cameras, they were asked to document different aspects of their local environment that are important, relevant and interesting to them. On the basis of the pictures taken, interviews conducted by Leïla Baracchini made it possible to collect their points of view on the pictures taken. Composed of about twenty roll-up banners, the exhibition proposes a dialogue between the photos taken and extracts from the authors’ speeches on their own work.

Their photographs and texts speak to us of beauty, suffering, aspirations and disappointments, of shifting identities. In this visual exploration, the images capture and convey their individual perspectives, how they see themselves, how they define and relate to the world, and what they perceive as important or different.

The preparation of the exhibition was the opportunity to involve students from the Sol Plaatje University and use this dissemination action as teaching material.

The Places in Me exhibition opened on 1 July 2023 at the !Xunkhwesa Combined School in Platfontein and then moved to Sol Plaatje University and the William Humphreys Art Gallery in Kimberley. It is planned that the exhibition circulates then between various venues: IFAS-Recherche in Johannesburg, the !Khwa ttu San Heritage Centre in Yzerfontein. The design of the exhibition in the form of roll-up banners is intended to allow easy circulation of the exhibition.

Café Science at EDYTEM

In a short format (20 minutes), the objective of the Café Science events organised every Thursday at the EDYTEM laboratory is to explain the main lines of ongoing research projects, recently obtained results or newly published publications.

After having contextualised the issues associated with the management of rock art sites in southern Africa, and underlined the difficulties of taking into account a diversity of practices and perceptions, Mélanie Duval presented the scientific objectives of the COSMO-ART project, its structuring into workpackages, the study areas selected, as well as the research actions undertaken for 2022 and those announced for 2023.

RTS FM Ma’at Reggae Show

Between two reggae tunes, the four of us have explained the aims of the COSMO-ART project at RTSfm, a radio station in Kimberley. We have talked about the upcoming photo exhibition (using the date collected through the photovoice project run by Leïla Baracchini), rock art sites preservation issues and how cultural heritage may help to develop tourism in the Northern Cape region.

Interview at X-K FM

Guests at Platfontein by the X-K FM Community Radio, Hugo, Leïla and Mélanie presented the main lines of the COSMO-ART project, with particular emphasis on the actions that will be undertaken during the four years of the project on the rock art sites of the Kimberley region. A first announcement concerning the photovoice project was also made. Broadcast in the two community languages, this talk on the local radio allowed the objectives of the project to be better known to the two local populations.