House Museum for Gerrit Rietveld Academie – bricks to build homes for careful archives
Curated by Nina bell F.
Following Sara Ahmed, the house is like a dwelling, created by citations as bricks and straws for feminist memory. For Nina bell F. House Museum, archival practices are considered as bricks too. As a lighter material like straw, they can be used to make a shelter. In this vulnerable state, it is a space for fostering institutional critique, to nourish relational and commonist aesthesis.
For this afternoon, Nina invited guests from the cultural and academic field who engage with archiving practices in relation to social movements, or uncover stories that have remained buried and silenced in institutionalized collections. What are other ways of archiving than those shaped by the colonial knowledge system? Instead of centring objects, perfection and hygiene, it’s people and relationships that are the casco, the skeleton of the house, with care and reproductive labour as the main tools for building. The programme investigates the potential of small art organizations and independent cultural spaces as sites to build homes for archives that do not find a home in the established or state-based archives. What kind of support system and resources can sustain archiving processes that include movement making through artistic practices?
With: Marianna Takou, Ying Que, Nuraini Juliastuti, Sites of Memory, Jeftha Pattikawa, Leana Boven
Marianna Takou and Ying Que
Prelude to House Museum for Gerrit Rietveld Academie – bricks to build homes for careful archives by guest curator Nina bell F.
Nina bell F. (pronouns she/they) is a spirit and living organism fermenting in and around Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons in Utrecht. Their existence is built on emerging relations with kindred souls from the past and present. Nina bell F. House Museum is an instituting practice for keeping Nina’s spirit alive, developed from a critical reflection on Casco’s archival practices and its political economy. The collection proposes useful ways of being and knowing–communally and economically in terms of organizing and fermentation, in which the selection process followed an intention to develop kinship. It was launched for Natasha, the Singapore Biennale 2022-2023.
Wan Ing Que, or Ying, is an anarchist anthropologist, educator, and cultural worker whose work draws from curatorial and artistic research. She was part of the Casco team as project and community organiser from 2012 - 2016 and one of those who named Nina bell F. As a freelancer she remains close to Casco as a member of the Assembly steering committee and through project-based work. She is a guide for the Traces of Slavery walks in Utrecht. Her work is affiliated with social movements and cultural activism, ranging from writing and programming to radio and theatre works. She is concerned with pedagogy, feminism and anti-colonialism, approaching these from a range of topics, including the commons and commoning practice, food autonomy, and cycles of colonial and postcolonial violence. Since summer 2020 she is taking care of the community space Moira Exporiment in Utrecht. Among her other collective involvement are the Starlings, the Disobedient Art School, niet normaal* and Read-in.
Marianna Takou is a researcher and organizer from Αthens, Greece. She is currently based in Utrecht, where she works as a producer, organizer and researcher at Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons. She first became part of the ecosystem of Casco as a volunteer in 2013. Since 2019, as part of the team, she has been working on different aspects of Casco’s operations and is a member of the Arts Collaboratory network. With a background in Sociology and training in International Development, she holds an MSc in Sustainable Development. Her research interests and organizing focus on feminist and queer practices in mobility, migration, the commons, and the degrowth movement. She is a founding member of niet normaal*, a queer collective active in Utrecht, and a member of Read-in, a collective that experiments with collective reading and memorizing.
In the contexts where the orderly arrangement of abundance in the universities, libraries and museums is founded on organised long-term extraction, the violence lies in the systems which control the narratives of stories and histories. What kinds of circumstances define the meaning of knowledge and archives? Post-colonial realities include the capacities to be travellers to access such abundance. To write our own histories, we are always positioned as borrowers. How do we craft our skills to take ownership of what is lost? How can we penetrate the wealth of the institutions and to make it porous?
Nuraini Juliastuti is a trans-local practising researcher and writer, focusing on independent art and cultural organisations, activism, illegality and archiving. In 1999, Nuraini co-founded the Kunci Study Forum & Collective in Yogyakarta, Indonesia (http://kunci.or.id/). Recently she just completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Amsterdam. In this role, she worked as part of the Worlding Public Cultures: The Arts and Social Innovation project at the Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis (2020-2022). With her family, Nuraini runs a small press, Reading Sideways Press, which publishes works and translations on arts, sports, and literature. She currently works as a lecturer at the Master of Fine Art program, HKU University of the Arts, Utrecht.
Sites of Memory
Sites of Memory rethinks the notion of “the archive” through performance practice. SoM invokes the body as an archive, the city as an archive, culture as an archive.
SoM creates site specific performances that connect history and theater. The work is created in collaboration with multidisciplinary artists and historians who research the colonial history of The Netherlands and former colonized areas. The process of reflecting on history also includes stories that are not documented or only from the “white gaze”. The intention is to amplify voices often silenced, or ignored. To tell more complete stories, SoM uses a technique called Critical Fabulation. This is a method developed by historian Saidiya Hartman and uses historical and archival research involving critical theory and fiction. Stories are created to fill in the empty spaces in historical archives. In addition, SoM’s artistic research emphasizes the diverse voices within the team and their personal relationship to the subject. SoM not only utilizes traditional forms of historical research and critical fabrication, but also, oral history, embodied knowledge and ancestral memory.
Sites of Memory Foundation (SoM) organizes activities around the hidden and under-represented stories of the history of colonialism and slavery of the Netherlands and the former colonized areas. It is founded by Jennifer Tosch (cultural historian and founder of the Black Heritage Tours) and Katy Streek (theater maker and programmer). Since 2016 they have created site specific performances with a collective of multidisciplinary artists who reframe history through music, poetry, dance, visual art and theater. The performances focus on personal stories from Black and other non-white communities that are often unknown or not found in the archives.
Jennifer Tosch is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and currently resides in Amsterdam, Netherlands (NL), working on a dual Masters in Heritage and Memory Studies at the University of Amsterdam. She is founder of Black Heritage Tours in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and New York State, co-author of 3 books on Dutch colonial history Amsterdam Slavery Heritage Guide (2014); Dutch New York Histories (2017) and Netherlands Slavery Heritage Guide (2019), co-founder of Sites of Memory Foundation and a member of the Mapping Slavery Project Netherlands. Jennifer was born in Brooklyn, New York to Surinamese parents. All her ancestors are also from Suriname. Jennifer founded the Black Heritage Tour in Amsterdam in 2013 and the New York Tour in 2017. The tours make the ‘hidden history visible’ as you explore the city’s Black presence and colonial history. www.blackheritagetours.com
Katy Streek is a freelance theater maker and programmer. She is a graduate of the University of the Arts in Utrecht (2006) and has a Master Applied Theatre (2009) from the University of Cape Town. She’s co-founder of Sites of Memory Foundation and from 2013 till 2020 worked as a programmer for Afrovibes Festival in Amsterdam. In her work, she focuses on (international) collaborations, artistic dialogue and themes of colonisation, slavery and migration. She directed the site-specific productions Returning the Gaze (2022) Future for the Past (2020), Emerging Memory (2019), Changing Portraits (2018), Sites of Memory East (2017) and Sites of Memory (2016). She co-created the art installation Decoding the Atlantic World in the Maritime Museum in Amsterdam (2022) and directed the Future the the Past - The Movie (2021). Her other theatre work includes This is me - Dis na mi, a site-specific production at Fort New Amsterdam in Paramaribo (2012) De Tijdschepper in Amsterdam (2010) and No-Man’s Land, an international exchange between South Africa and The Netherlands (2008). www.katystreek.com
Jeftha Pattikawa with Malou Sumah,
Tony Markus Sacharias
Jeftha Pattikawa explores the importance of self-representation and community archives in retelling and complicating the power dynamics that inform the stories we tell about Moluccans in the Netherlands. Verloren Banden is an archive and audiovisual project by and for this community whose position is strongly impacted by colonialism. The footage is unique in two ways: the images show the resilience of the Moluccans in postcolonial Netherlands and the visual material was made by the community itself.
The project uncovers and visibilizes the everyday life and struggles of members of the community in the late 1970s in Vaassen, the Netherlands. Nationwide, the image of Moluccans was influenced by resistance, protest, radicalization and violence. The Moluccan youth back then unconsciously recorded this period of communal growth and resilience with their cameras. It is a small and local history, yet represents a larger Moluccan perspective.
Jeftha Pattikawa is a senior advisor at the National Archives of The Netherlands whose work is focused on inclusion, accessibility and decolonization. He’s the founder of Verloren Banden, an audiovisual community archive. Pattikawa is a photographer and documentary filmmaker, his films were screened at amongst others the Smithsonian Mother Tongue Film Festival and Garifuna Indigenous Film Festival. He’s a member of the NIOD/KNAW Science Committee and Europeana advisory board.
With: Malou Sumah (Archief Maluku), Ais Leuhery (Verloren Banden, Wijkraad Vaassen Berkenoord2) and Tony Markus Sacharias (Multidisciplinary Artist)
Closing by Nina bell F.'s Leana Boven
Leana Boven (1993) is a curator, cultural programmer, and researcher with a background in gender and (post)colonial studies. Her work revolves around counter-culture, diasporic togetherness and belonging, spatial justice, decolonial climate justice, and collective and communal care.
Leana curated the exhibition On Collective Care & Togetherness (Oct. 2020 – Jan. 2021) at MAMA in Rotterdam. Currently, Leana works as a curator at Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons. She also curates shows in Gemaal op Zuid, and teaches at the Willem de Kooning Academy within the Social Practice department.