The Atlantis Project          

'Atlantis, aerial view, apartheid housing, circa 1980

The new phase of Very Real Time focuses on the issues of distance and access effecting the inhabitants in the remoter suburbs of both Paris and Cape Town. The project is being developed simultaneously with high schools in Cape Town (South Africa) and in Paris (France).

Participants are introduced to techniques of working with personal narrative, in the creation small poetic videos (15 - 45 seconds) to be shared on social media. Anecdotes concerning local public spaces are used as the basis for choreographic and voice experiments in these outdoor environments. The workshop creates links between students in Cape Town and in France, positioning personal narratives as fragments of a larger historical and geographical context.

The oral narrative tradition resonates strongly in South African culture, but it carries the risk that individuals are trapped by their own stories. Physical distance, middle-class myopia, harsh weather, poor education and corrupt governance create a lethargy which impedes development. This project encourages the transformative value of narratives by concentrating on the musicality of the voice and body, in relation to spaces and ambiences.

The long-term goal in Atlantis, is the development of a local Media Hub as a means of employment, expression and self-empowerment for young people, introducing them to journalism and media techniques.

Students at Lycée Lavoisier in Paris participation in the first Voice Sparks workshop, February, 2019

A text in the process of being re-edited by a student at Lycée Lavoisier, Paris, 2019

Located 70 kilometres north of Cape Town, Atlantis is a phenomenon of the forced removals of the apartheid era. Between the 1960’s and 80’s, non-white families living in mixed-racial neighborhoods close to the city were moved to newly constructed outlying suburbs. Communities were not simply broken up, but generations of families were separated. This meant that children grew up untended by grandparents, while their parents traveled long distances to and from work. This led directly to problems of gangsterism, drug-dealing and addiction, which continue plague these suburbs. Economic crises have only exacerbated these problems in recent years. The two hours of travel to and from the city, the nearest point of employment is a ongoing obstacle.


Students at an Atlantis high school working on computers donated by African Bank, (image courtesy of Impact Media archives)


In Cape Town, the project is being developed in close collaboration A4 Arts Foundation and with Impact Media (Peter Lategan) in Atlantis.

The Atlantis Project has received initial development funding from the Direction Régionale des affaires culturelles d'Île-de-France.