ARP Project – The residence as a partecipative knowledge

It’s been three weeks now since the arrival of Zwelethu Machepha from Johannesburg to Rome and the beginning of his artistic residence in the capital.

“In the last few weeks in Rome I’ve considered myself graciously fortunate to have been exposed to the richness of this beautiful nation. I’ve seen the dramatic landscape, the history these monuments carry on are full of identity which is something hard to find where I come from” says Machepha, as he works to the opening on 31st May at Centro Luigi Di Sarro.


These weeks were full, engaging and always busy. ARP – Art Residency Project provides the artists selected with a “daily encounter” with Rome both in its historical and archaeological aspect and in the contemporary one.Besides such monuments as the Forum, the Colosseum, the Pantheon and the Ara Pacis, the encounter of Machepha with contemporary art and the Roman scene was “consumed” day after day through different studio visits and exhibition openings. The residence project, has been following by ARP Project team composed of young cultural workers with different roles: Emanuele Rinaldo Meschini, Angelica Farinelli and Giorgio Cristiano. The group has been constantly enriched with others artists and curators creating a dialogative and participatory atmosphere. That’s the case of Giulia Lopalco, who introduced the group at the printing/etching workshop “Stamperia del Tevere” created by Alessandro Fornaci where every weekend Machepha working on his plates. The study visits have brought us to Giuseppe Pietroniro and Marco Raparelli artists well known in the Italian contemporary art system, Giovanni De Cataldo and Leonardo Petrucci at Pastificio Cecere. Machepha had the chance also to confront with artists in residence at the various foreign academies such as Damien Duffy and Joseph Griffiths hosted during this time in Rome at the British Academy.


The openings to which Machepha participated were numerous, almost one a day. The solo of Vincenzo Schillaci at the Operativa gallery by Carlo Pratis, the collective show Studio System from artists in residence at America Academy, the exhibition of Camille Henrot at Memmo Foundation and the three nights so far organized by the independent space Q13 run by Carlo Caloro. Here, in an area like the Aurelio district far from any tourist tour guide, Machepha came into contact with several artists, especially with Stefan Nestoroski, Macedonian artist but with Italian training.


Many were also the visits to museums of which Rome such a the National Gallery of Modern Art, Macro museum for contemporary art and the Ethnographic Museum Luigi Pigorini. Among the works of public art, the group took part in a precious tour lead by Sara Spizzichino (image researcher, CO-Team Captain Shadow Puppets for the project Triumphs and Laments) to the monumental work of William Kentdrige on the Tiber banks, coincidentally another South African artist enchanted by Rome.

ARP Project – Let’s start with the residency

On Tuesday 3rd it’s official started the residency of the South African artist Zwelethu Machepha (Johannesburg 1990). During this six weeks the artist will meet with artists and curators of the Roman contemporary art scene. The aim of this residence is the dialogue between two cultures seemingly distant but actually held together by the thread of artistic research. The work of Machepha is focused on the theme of counter history and the idea of colonialism as an appropriation of identity. During his work Machepha will interact with a group of young cultural workers from different fields (curating, video making,editing) who will guide him in a immersive trip in the city. The opening of the exhibition that will conclude the residence will be on May 31 at the Centre Luigi Di Sarro.

Zwelethu Machepha is in many respects the physical embodiment of the young urban African artist generation. Investigating different mediums – drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture and performing arts, his expression stems from that which he is constantly observing, digesting and living .

The curator Emma Van Der Merwe from Everard Read Gallery (Cape Town) wrote: “Machepha starts as printer and portrait maker – an observer of the many people’s in the African urban landscapes, through the deeply personal relationships Machepha has in the both figurative and abstracted forms that lead to his original Colonial Ghosts Series. Finally here at the Centre, one follows the artist into a stream of consciousness and development with his time spent in Rome. Defined and structured around that which he exposes himself and his working discourse too, his languages and patterns will strive to absorb the energies of the architecture, colours and peoples of Rome”.


Zwelethu Machepha