Skip to content
Atlantis Project
Mesh 1 June 2020
Photograph by Pieter Hugo, from A4’s ‘Atlantis Project’ exchange with the SWAGG United Dance Crew, that depicts a young person dancing in the street.
Commissioned photograph: Pieter Hugo, SWAGG United (2020). Photograph. Courtesy of the artist.
Title Atlantis Project Dates 2020-06-01 Location Offsite Tagline Partnering with SWAGG United Dance Crew and artist Gregg Smith, A4 offers itself as connective device; a node from which a network of participant- and practitioner-centred engagements extend. Credits

Gregg Smith

Pieter Hugo

Felix Seuffert

Elsalene Salligee
Lindell Diedericks
Nino Salligee

Past artist in residence Gregg Smith continues his dialogue with SWAGG United Dance Crew, a community initiative based in Atlantis, seeking out opportunities to establish networks and creative partnerships between the Crew and artists working in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Paris. With support from A4, photographer Pieter Hugo and videographer Felix Seuffert create multi-media portraits of the Crew, while A4’s Academy brings the participants into conversation with educational initiatives and NPOs working in Cape Town. 

Atlantis is a place of planned disenfranchisement. Lying 40kms outside of Cape Town towards the coastal dunes on the West Coast, it was constructed by the apartheid government in the 1970s as an industrial town and dormitory for workers and labourers. These were families declared ‘coloured’, forcibly removed from inner-city neighbourhoods and relocated to this new factory landscape under the Group Areas Act. Its distance from the city, as Smith writes, was “used as a means to separate race groups, but also a means to ensure that adult citizens expend vast amounts of time and energy moving to and from work, limiting their capacity to organise community bodies.” Many of the factories collapsed after the government removed various tax incentives in the 1980s. Geographically isolated, employment opportunities are few and economic fragility pronounced. Atlantis remains among Cape Town’s most underprivileged and poorly serviced communities.

Drawing on an ever-expanding map of engagements, A4 looks to draw SWAGG from its location on the periphery into a global arts community. Attentive to the processes, interactions and opportunities that arise from the intersections between communities and arts practitioners, A4 assists Smith in his work with the SWAGG community of dancers by facilitating creative co-work and mutual interest; primary to A4’s mechanisms of academy, archive, apparatus and access.

Gregg Smith is a filmmaker, artist and arts educator. He has taught at the Michaelis School of Fine Art (University of Cape Town), ECAV (Switzerland), the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture de Versailles and Paris College of Art. Gregg lives and works in Paris.

In 2016, choreographer Elsalene Salligee founded SWAGG United Dance Crew, a community dance group in Atlantis. Free to neighborhood children, the initiative offers a constructive and supportive after-school environment. Without a studio, the group meets regularly at an outdoor parking lot. Together with Lindell Diedericks and Elsalene's husband, Nino, SWAGG has developed an award-winning programme with forty junior and senior dancers.