Relating (to) Colour
Studium Generale: Rietveld Academie & Rietveld Uncut
Fixity of Colour
Curated by Ola Hassanain and Casco Art Institute (with Nina bell F.)
Friday 27 March
10:00 - 17:00
@ Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
Talks, videos, and performances by Nermin Elsherif, Quinsy Gario, Egbert Alejandro Martina, Ying Que, and Simone Zeefuik
If colour is fixed, does it reflect a lack of world, or others’ impotence when it comes to inhabiting it? To ‘relate’ to colour implies there is a ‘common’ and objective understanding in play that we are outside of. Its fixity is synonymous with generating the iconography of speaking on behalf of others. Further, to be able to ‘relate’ requires a willingness to labour from within the fixity of colour. This day is a composition in which multiple positions interrogate contemporary world-making views built on fixed genealogies of colour. Colour and a ‘habitable world’ are often in conflict; composition here offers an imagining, an assemblage of bits of representations and practices whose work is the world worked on – through. The intention is to linger and become orientated when ways of inhabiting the world have been deactivated on a structural level. There, inquiry is set aside, while the processes of a world predicated on the fixed space of colour perseveres and insists that we follow suit. Is it possible to meander through that which is fixed? How can we identify it, who does the labour of navigating the fixity of colour, and how can we eradicate the violence enabled by the structures rooted in this fixity? How can we give way for inquiry to align with a habitable world? Can this be done from within institutions? Instead of the word ‘colour’ as fixed quotidian environment, let’s consider the analytical frameworks and conversations that arise from the unwillingness of colour. Contributors highlight means of inhabiting in their research in a dialectic between a world predicated on colour and one we can live in.
With thanks to Adeola Enigbokan for insightful conversations.
Since early on in her architectural career, Ola Hassanain has utilized a growing sense of frustration over the gulf between academia’s architectural theory and real-world actualities of the built environment. As she pursued advanced degrees, she trained her focus on the subtle politics of space – namely, the ways built spaces react to and reinforce violence against certain bodies in space. Her interests centre around public space, public policy, and government regulation. When her family was forced out of Sudan by crisis-fuelled diaspora, her fascination with the relationship between architecture and the landscape, territories, and ways the built environment reflects, responds to, and shapes the lives of those who inhabit it, increased. Her most recent work explores the idea of ‘space as discourse’ – a launch point for discussions around an expanded sense of space, encompassing the influence of politics and the environmental needs of citizens.
Nina bell F. / Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons
Nina bell F. are many with multiple heads, hearts, and bodies, made up of those who are in, with and beyond Casco Art Institute in the front and in the back, near and far, past and future. Therefore, Nina’s pronouns are she/they. They are a constellation connected but also under and outside this organization. As a feminist figuration, Nina works towards the institution’s most radical, collective imagination. Better than us all even when combined as a team, Nina are an ethical entity to live up to, and at the very least, a proposition. The collective figure of Nina bell Federici (Nina bell F.) stems from the shared admiration for the artistic, Black, feminist, and political engagements of Nina Simone, bell hooks, and Silvia Federici. Nina emerged in the context of the Site for Unlearning (Art Organisation) project convened by the Casco team and artist Annette Krauss, and, among others, lives on through the study line at Casco, which questions social norms and structures and takes on the process of unlearning oppressive institutional habits for a more commoning practice. Nina bell F. challenge the team to think beyond (institutional) frameworks of Casco and artist, and inspire work towards relationalities that support the fight against social injustices in the here and now. On this occasion, Nina is represented by Binna Choi (director Casco Art Institute, Utrecht), Annette Krauss (artist and course leader, MA Fine Art, HKU, Utrecht), Yolande van der Heide (exhibition curator, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven), and Ying Que (anthropologist and freelancer, Utrecht). www.casco.art
10:30 Welcome by Jorinde Seijdel
10:45 Ola Hassanain and Nina bell F., Introduction
11:00 Simone Zeefuik, Institutions and Demographics
Simone Zeefuik is an Amsterdam-based writer, cultural programmer, and organizer whose work centres around on representation, inclusivity, and social justice. She has focused on Aficentred perspectives, decolonizing knowledge institutes, the illegalized members of Afro-Dutch communities, and (digital) archives. Her main interests are film (especially biopics), literature, and theatre. Her commitments include: programmer, Bijlmer Parktheater, Amsterdam; lecturer, Sandberg Institute, Amsterdam; and teacher, Zawdie Sandvielt’s Afro-Dutch Studies course, University of Amsterdam. Zeefuik often collaborates with the Research Center for Material Culture, Amsterdam and enjoys being a freelancer.
11:30 Coffee break
11:45 Ying Que, On Cultural Activism and the Organization of Life
Ying Que is an anarchist anthropologist, cultural programmer, and facilitator. As a freelancer, her work combines writing, performance, collaborative programming, and publishing situated in the art world, educational organizations, and political communities. She is active in two collectives: Read-in (since 2016), an art collective that experiments with collective reading and memorizing; and her queer collective niet normaal* (since 2017), organizing parties at cultural stage EKKO based on safe space Party Praxis. As an activist, she is committed to a glocal feminist and anti-capitalist practice and building bridges between people who would otherwise not meet.
12:15 Ying Que and Simone Zeefuik in conversation with the audience, moderated by Nina bell F. and Ola Hassanain
13:30 Egbert Alejandro Martina, The Void
Egbert Alejandro Martina is a cultural critic, activist, and blogger who seeks to map the messy complexities of how Blackness structures our understanding of gender, ability, sexuality, and race. He describes himself as a diasporic Afrarealist. He is currently grappling with the implications of Saidiya Hartman’s theorization of the ‘afterlife of slavery’, and what Christina Sharpe calls living ‘in the wake’. He blogs at Processed Life about anti-Blackness in Dutch popular/political discourse, surveillance, and mobility. In his spare time, he is trying to perfect his earthbending techniques.
14:00 Nermin Elsherif, When the Silent Past Gets a Voice: Disrupting the Grey Publics
Nermin Elsherif is a PhD candidate in cultural studies at the University of Amsterdam concerned with online cultures in the Arab Middle East. Her work focuses on questions of power and representation through different media. She is an MSCA fellow, DAAD alumni, and co-founder of research network Situated Imaginaries (Sit-Im). Elsherif graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts in Cairo in 2011 and since then has worked simultaneously in academic teaching, research, and grassroots initiatives across Egypt.
14:30 Egbert Alejandro Martina and Nermin Elsherif in conversation with the audience, moderated by Nina bell F. and Ola Hassanain
15:00 Tea break
15:15 Quinsy Gario, Empires in Connection
Quinsy Gario is a visual and performance artist from the Caribbean islands that have Dutch colonization in common. He focuses on decolonial remembering and the actions that that remembering can engender. His most well-known work, Zwarte Piet Is Racisme (2011–12), critiques the general knowledge surrounding racist Dutch figure and practice of Zwarte Piet (Black Pete), later bringing into the open the governmental institutional support that keeps the figure alive in the Netherlands. He has an academic background in media studies, gender studies, and postcolonial studies, is a graduate of the Master Artistic Research programme at the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague, and was a recurring participant of the Black Europe Body Politics conference series. He received the Royal Academy Master Thesis Award (2017), Black Excellence Award (2016), Amsterdam Fringe Festival Silver Award (2015), Dutch Caribbean Pearl Award (2014), and Hollandse Nieuwe 12 Theatermakers Prize (2011). In 2017 he received a Humanity in Action Detroit Fellowship and in 2017/2018 he was a BAK Fellow. Gario is a board member of De Appel, and a member of Family Connection and of the pan-African artists’ collective State of L3.
16:00 Contributors and curators in conversation with audience, moderated by Quinsy Gario