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Clint Abrahams vannie Macassar, architect and academic at the School of Architecture, Planning & Geomatics at the University of Cape Town (UCT), has been recognised for his design-build exhibition called Macassar “Who we are”, by Studio Light.

Except for the fact that he is the creator of this brilliant exhibition he is also the founder of Studio Light, a non-profit organisation that allows for an equally beneficial relationship between the community and higher education institutions. The ultimate aim of Studio Light is to find and create socio-spatial restorative architecture. 

According to an article written on the UCT page, Macassar: “Who we are”, is an exhibition created to “explore this theme in the context of postcolonial challenges faced by displaced communities in South Africa”. The website further says “It counters dominant narratives by re-telling the stories of Macassar, a community characterised by crime and socio-economic challenges. The aim is to build community resilience amid conditions of hopelessness and public mistrust”. 

Macassar community common-space

This exhibition was created in collaboration with the community, UCT, the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and German Institutes: the University of Applied Sciences Düsseldorf, Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen University and the Peter Behrens School of Art.

Clint currently shares the 2019 UCT Creative Works Award with Associate Professor Andrew Lilley from the South African College of Music (SACM) and Associate Professor Dizu Plaatjies, a lecturer in the African Music section of the South African College of Music. This award acknowledges major creative works created by UCT staff.

Members of the community get to view the exhibition inside the Common Space created by Studio Light

Clint’s nomination stated, “In 2016, with no civic-institutional support, meetings held in Macassar living rooms and backyards developed into a street photography project involving youth from the area. This built new relationships, trust, and appreciation for their community, framing a new story for the area. In 2018, community meetings were held to plan and host an exhibition in the public library and two private homes.”

It continues saying: “The installations were built as participatory spatial interventions which resulted in shared (common) spaces for intergenerational dialogue. Stories by elders in response to images taken by the youth were included in the exhibition to instill new stories of hope and dignity. Everyone involved, from members of the community to students, has been positive about their personal experience of the project. The overall support has grown beyond our expectations. We’ve been encouraged to plan future spatial projects as a result of this work, with the promise of further transformation through knowledge exchange.”

Clint says, “We think you build community resilience by creating common spaces for intergenerational dialogue and this space did that before we showed up”.