Charmaine Chitate

Zimbabwe - Storytelling & Photography

Charmaine Chitate


Charmaine Chitate

  • AGE : 36
  • COUNTRY of residence : Zimbabwe
  • CITY : Harare
  • ARTISTIC DISCIPLINE : Storytelling, Photography, Videography and Virtual Reality
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The artist

A few words about your artistic journey

I am continuously evolving as a visual storyteller. In 2018, I was voted in the Top 20 contemporary African artists with the potential to shape and inspire the global scene. In 2019, my project was shortlisted as one of the Top 6 VR projects by Digital Lab Africa.

How long have you been an artist ?

I’ve been an artist for a little over twenty years and have been experimenting with virtual reality for two.

Why did you apply for this grant ? How will the grant support you ?

I wanted to give myself an opportunity to explore my “artistic-self” by telling stories differently. I can focus on the creative process from ideation through to the final presentation as opposed to worrying about expenses such as accommodation, transport, internet access and where the next meal will come from.

What are your concrete artistic objectives after this residency ?

I will be creating more visual & VR content about Zimbabwe’s culture and pursue a professional course on Augmented and Virtual Reality.

Her residency

What did you achieve during this creative residency ? What is the result (created work) ? Who was involved in the creation process ?

“Whispering Silence” is a digital storytelling project which sought to collect ten unique stories from random people in Harare. In addition to this, I sought to collect the life experiences of my interview subjects and their proposed solutions for today and tomorrow through ngano, folklore. I shortlisted four high density neighbourhoods to work from and these were : Mbare, Epworth, Mufakose and Highfields. I selected these four as people in high density areas are governed less by social media as opposed to those in low density areas. I developed relationships with the Friendlies (Epworth), Mufakose Youth Development (Mufakose) and the Shava Family (Highfields) who in turn, facilitated conversations with their respective communities.

How do you think these activities contribute to a reflection on today’s world, in relation to the COVID-19 crisis, and/or on the shaping of the future ?

I’d like to think that “Whispering Silence” has contributed to the gathering of indigenous knowledge which we’ve harvest as stories or ngano. There are a lot of lessons which have been shared by the project contributors which speak to how we are easily misled or misinformed (fake news), a problem which is fast becoming a norm in the ongoing coronavirus influenced environment. Some stories shared offer tips on how to incorporate what is now term “organic farming” and the best practices- this being offered as a solution to the drought environment we are in now and how-to multi-purpose the land available to you.

The project contributors also shared, going forward, how parents may use traditional/cultural games to compliment the “formal” schooling system and the right indigenous foods to eat for a stronger immune system. Most important is that, the contributors shared advice on how people/communities may relate to each other for a better tomorrow.

How did you feel during the residency ? And at the end of it ?

During the residency I felt more focussed on my work and had access to a lot of options in terms of decision making. The project keeps evolving in a new way as I continuously scrub through the timelines I find new information which acts like a call back card to find out more. As I head towards the end of the project, I appreciate the collaborative for mit has taken so far.

As I am still working on finalising the project, I am appreciative of the journey the project has taken and the insights it has brought on Zimbabwean culture. I feel I did do what I set out to do however in doing so I opened up a need for more information. A tip of the iceberg.