a project by Tommaso Fiscaletti and Nic Grobler   


“Hemelliggaam (Afrikaans: Heavenly Body) or The Attempt To Be Here Now” is a growing visual archive of photography and video installations, exploring the existential aspects of the human-environment-astronomy relationship, constantly moving between the reality of important scientific sites (such as the South African Large Telescope in Sutherland and the Square Kilometre Array in Carnarvon) and the imaginative fragments of old Afrikaans science fiction novels - in particular reference to one of the most existential and emblematic writers, Jan Rabie with his books 'Swart Ster oor die Karoo' (Black Star over the Karoo, 1957), Die Groen Planeet (The Green Planet, 1961) and 'Die Hemelblom' (Heaven Flower), 1971. The project (still in progress) is mainly focused on communities, landscapes and objects located in the Western and Northern Cape, South Africa, where there is a special connection with the sky. 

Something archaic radiates from the local community in connection with their science and technology needs, this project is exploring this concept through looking at forms of awareness that are already active and cultivating more awareness through conversations, participation and reflection.

“Hemelliggaam or The Attempt To Be Here Now” follows a deeply existential line, where the human beings (both the old and contemporary) through their own perception of the Universe is strongly connected with nature and the way it reveals itself.

Filippo Maggia

In collaboration with
Mattia Vaccari, Lucia Marchetti and 
Michelle Cluver, 
Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of the Western Cape

Other team members / advisors / consultants
Davide Chinigo
Neil Rusch

Sound Composer
Alessandro Gigli

Supported by
National Research Foundation

Farnesina : Ministero degli Affari Esteri e della Cooperazione Internazionale

Consolato d'Italia a Cape Town


TOMMASO FISCALETTI (1981) was born in Cattolica (RN) and grew up in Pesaro. He currently lives between Cape Town and Milan. He began working in a photographic studio in 2001 but soon felt the need to explore his own language, and so began his travels through North Africa and Eastern Europe, which allowed him to complete a number of reportage photographic projects. Both staged works in studio as well as the search for visuals in daily life have critically shaped Tommaso’s project into a body of work that, since 2006, he seen him create photographies that shift between reality and its representation. His work is born of an interest to discuss mankind and existential themes like memories, one’s relationship with nature and human relations. In 2011, he completed a notable video and photographic project, working with Alice Marrollo, under the name LeaFlood. In 2013 he moved to South Africa.  His work has received several awards since 2004, it has been published in magazines and books, and has been exhibited in private galleries and public spaces like museums, including the Museo Santa Maria della Scala in Siena, the Palazzo della Permanente in Milan, the Museo Cubo Unipol in Bologna, the National Library of South Africa in Cape Town, to name but a few. Tommaso has also held workshops and taught photography since 2012 at places IED (Istituto Europeo di Design) in Milan and Cape Town Creative Academy in Cape Town. www.tommasofiscaletti.com


NIC GROBLER (1979) was born in Pretoria and currently lives in Cape Town. Nic is a designer, animator and visual artist. His studies at the University of Pretoria in Information design led him into the broadcast design field. His commercial work covers a broad range of artistic disciplines and he has contributed to award winning local and international projects. Since 2010 his work often includes photography and filmmaking. Bicycle Portraits, Everyday South Africans and their bicycles (2012) photographed with Stan Engelbrecht is his first photographic book. The project has lead to various bicycle related projects including an exhibition South African Bicycle Builders that celebrated bicycle building heritage in South Africa. He is currently also working on Under the Sun - a series of portrait based short films for the local Peoples Weather channel. He has facilitated student design projects and at the University of Pretoria and Stellenbosch University and is also a portfolio moderator at the Cape Town Creative Academy. Nic maintains a small Bicycle library in and has a small but growing collection Afrikaans Science fiction books. www.nicgrobler.com


UWC Team

Dr MATTIA VACCARI was born in Montebelluna, Italy, and is currently a Senior Research Fellow in Multi-Wavelength Galaxy Evolution at the University of the Western Cape. He was formerly a post-doctoral research assistant within the Department of Physics & Astronomy “Galileo Galilei” at the University of Padova, Italy, and within the Astrophysics Group of Blackett Laboratory at Imperial College London, United Kingdom. He received a PhD in Space Science and Technology from the Department of Physics and Astronomy "Galileo Galilei" and the Center for Space Studies and Activities "Giuseppe Colombo" of the University of Padova. He combines ground-based and space observatories to study the evolution of galaxies and black holes over the lifetime of the Universe. He is the PI of the Spitzer Data Fusion, (www.mattiavaccari.net/df), the VOICE - VST Optical Imaging of the CDFS and ES1 - Project (www.mattiavaccari.net/voice/) and serves as Project Scientist and SA lead of the EC-FP7- and SA-DST-funded HELP - Herschel Extragalactic Legacy Project (http://www.herschel.sussex.ac.uk/). www.mattiavaccari.net

Dr LUCIA MARCHETTI is a Post-Doctoral Research Associate in Astronomy at the University of the Western Cape. She was born in Verona, Italy. She obtained her PhD in Astronomy from the University of Padua, Italy, where she specialized in extragalactic Astronomy and observational cosmology. Before moving to South Africa, she was an STFC Post-Doctoral Research Associate in Astronomy at the Open University, in Milton Keynes (UK). Her research focuses on galaxy formation and evolution and strong gravitational lensing analysis. She is a passionate science communicator, a fellow of the UK Royal Astronomical Society and a member of the International Astronomical Union. She is involved in projects using the Herschel Space Observatory, the South African Large Telescope (SALT), the Spitzer Space Telescope and the Square Kilometer Array (SKA). She has served as one of the UK national coordinators of the International Year of Light (IYL2015 - light2015.org) and she was recently awarded a DST-NRF Fellowship for Early Career Researchers from the UK to visit the South African Astronomical Observatory and work on the South African Large Telescope Gravitational Lensing Project.

Associate Professor MICHELLE CLUVER is the Associate Director of the Inter-University Institute for Data Intensive Astrophysics at the University of the Western Cape, and Honorary Research Associate at the Iziko Planetarium in Cape Town. She obtained her PhD in Astronomy from the University of Cape Town in June 2009, for which she was awarded the Faculty of Science PhD Medal. She has done postdoctoral research at the the Spitzer Science Centre, Caltech, and was a Super Science Fellow at the Australian Astronomical Observatory. She is an experienced user of several optical and radio ground-based telescopes, as well as space-based mid-infrared telescopes, such as Spitzer and WISE. Michelle grew up in Bellville, South Africa, and presented shows at the Iziko Planetarium for over a decade.

The Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome, Cape Town (represented by A/Prof. Michelle Cluver, UWC). Having recently undergone a 28.5 million rand upgrade, the Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome brings the most advanced digital visualisation technology to Cape Town and serves as a space of innovation, exploration and discovery; where art, science and entertainment meet creating a new platform for artistic production, an e-Research centre and sheer entertainment facility. Learners and educators from primary to tertiary levels will benefit from computer generated imagery that makes interactive teaching and visual learning possible; providing an unparalleled and accelerated learning experience. The Planetarium’s Digital Dome and the nearby exhibition space part of the Iziko South African Museum will be used to inaugurate the exhibition in partnership with the Planetarium. (www.iziko.org.za)

Advisors / Consultants

Dr DAVIDE CHINIGO was born in Genova, Italy, in 1982. He is a political scientist by training with a Masters (2007) and PhD (2011) from the University of Bologna, and an interdisciplinary research background drawing from the fields of history, political geography, anthropology, sociology and development. He is currently Postdoctoral Fellow within the Research Chair in the Sociology of Land, Environment and Sustainable Development at Stellenbosch University. Before joining Stellenbosch, Davide was a Postdoctoral Fellow in State, Plurality, Change in Africa at the University of Bologna (2014-2015), and Research Fellow in Policy Innovation Systems for Clean Energy Security (PISCES) at the University of Edinburgh (2011-2013). His current research addresses the politics and governance of resources in the semi-arid Karoo region of South Africa, with a specific focus on globally networked initiatives such as the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope, prospective shale gas hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’), and other mining and renewable energy project initiatives.


NEIL RUSCH designs and publishes books and he is a photographer and author. His collaborations with the Universities of Cape Town and the Witwatersrand include recording oral history and documenting heritage in the Upper Karoo and Cederberg region. He contributed expertise and material, as well as participated in the early planning phase of the Shared Sky exhibition, initiated by SKA International and supported by the Department of Science and Technology and SKASA. His participation in this initiative included the design, editing and production of Karoo Cosmos – |Xam-ka !au and the |Xam (in press). This publication addresses astronomy from the perspectives of science and the indigenous knowledge tradition. Karoo Cosmos contributing authors are: Dr. Bernie Fanaroff, Prof. John Parkington, Dr. Janette Deacon, Dr. David Morris, Katriena Swartz, Sophia Adams, Dawid Abrahams, Serena Renier, Klaas Priega, Neil Rusch, Dr. Simon Hall, Jóse Manuel de Prada-Samper, Prof. Pam Christie and Prof. Russ Taylor. His research interests are the oral tradition and ethnography of the former |Xam-speaking people and their present-day Afrikaans-speaking descendants who live in the proclaimed radio astronomy reserve area. He is currently working on Bushman Stories which will appear in English for the first time, more than a century after the stories were told to G.R. von Wielligh (1859–1932). The sidereal narratives contained in this collection were noted by W.P. Koorts and A. Slotegraaf and presented at the 2005 African Astronomical History Symposium in Cape Town and later published in African Skies/Cieux Africains (2007). The translation from Afrikaans into English is aimed at providing wider access to this material, both for lay and academic readers.

Audio Editing / Music composed and arranged / Sounds effects

ALESSANDRO GIGLI is a flute player, composer and improviser. Born in Florence, Italy, moved to Cape Town in 2013. Gigli is active in classical, jazz and improvised research music. He has performed widely throughout Europe, Africa and Asia in solo flute concerts, leading his groups or as a sideman. Some of the venues and festivals he has played include Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Florence, Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, Cape Town Art Fair, Taipei Television in Taiwan, Lugano Music festival, House of literature Copenhagen, Audiovisiva Milano, Fabbrica Europa Florence, etc. Gigli holds both degrees in Classical flute and Musicology with studies in Cinema Composition from the Cherubini Conservatory in Florence and University of Florence, where he studied with Pierluigi Mencarelli, Janos Balint and Rosario Mirigliano. He studied jazz flute and improvisation with Vinko Globokar and Damiano Niccolini. He recorded for television and Film for Edizioni Rai, Sony Polygram, Amiata Record and TV Globo.