Thursday 16 Nov 2017

Conversation circle: Decolonizing the Globalized Dutch Art Institution

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Thursday 16th of November, 19:30

With Sherida Kuffour, Müge Yilmaz and Rolando Vázquez

Organized and conceptualized by Katayoun Arian


Over the past two or more years, decolonial social movements have increasingly exercised cultural power by shaping public opinion and language, and by raising critical awareness of institutions’ histories and their role in epistemic violence. Dutch globalized contemporary art institutions have been, alongside higher education institutions and a wide range of museums, among the recipients of the cultural power of decolonization’s premises.

As part of a series of gatherings, the first ‘Conversation Circle: Decolonizing Globalized Dutch Contemporary Art Institutions’ aims to collectively reflect on the increased discourse about de-racializing and decolonizing our contemporary art institutions and cultural practices.

During the first conversation circle, we will collectively discuss, together with the invited speakers, the ways in which current types of institutional engagement with decolonial curatorial models, artistic forms and knowledges, could potentially conceal institutional business as usual and prevent actual reform from happening. Institutions generally impose order, control, standardization, and foster a general culture of resistance towards critique and dissent. What are the ethical considerations in relation to decolonizing art institutions? What happens when social movements, artists, theorists and curators of non-Western backgrounds are invited to institutionalized platforms to present their ideas and work? In what ways does their praxis coincide with (or negate) a re-examination of organizational functions and forms?

The idea of a ‘conversation circle’ stems from the desire to break away from the panel format. The series of gatherings is independently organized (or mobile in the sense that they are not bound to one space). The first gathering takes place in the context of the exhibition-project ‘Ideology Meets Implementation' at the W139, and is generously supported by Ehsan Fardjadniya and Pendar Nabipour. The Conversation Circle strives to create a collective space for learning and listening. The circle is also a space for fostering extra-institutional kinships, solidarities and forms of organizing necessary to reform our cultural institutions and our own practices as artists, theorists and curators.

Invited Speakers:

Adopting a visual style that is rich in color, vibrancy and movement, Sherida Kuffour explores graphic design and creative storytelling through compelling personal experiences. Her work is about documenting micro-moments that fit into wider political realities. By using writing as a spade to dig into important social issues, it remains in her deepest interest to collaborate with like-minded people and projects that navigate anti-colonial theories. Sherida studied Graphic Design at Ravensbourne in London, England, and is currently pursuing her masters in Design at Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam.

Müge Yilmaz, is a visual artist based in Amsterdam. After completing photography studies in Italy, she was an artist in residence at Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten. Recently her work has been shown at 11th Shanghai Biennale, S.M.A.K, Ghent and Valkhof Museum, Nijmegen. Currently she is a project coordinator at Corridor Project Space in Amsterdam. Corridor Project Space (CPS) is an independent and interdisciplinary contemporary art initiative in Amsterdam with indoor and outdoor exhibition spaces. It stands for the importance of experimental art practices which focusses on the creation of new content that is off grid from the institutional and commercial circles. CPS initiates projects where artists, writers, curators, activists and theorists can meet.

Rolando Vázquez belongs to the movement of Decolonial Thought and Aesthesis. He teaches sociology at UCR University of Utrecht. He curated the workshop: 'Staging the End of the Contemporary' for MaerzMusik at the Berliner Festspiele. Together with Walter Mignolo, he has coordinated the Middelburg Decolonial Summer School for eight years and co-authored the seminal article Decolonial Aesthesis: Colonial Wounds/Decolonial Healings. In 2016 with Gloria Wekker et al. he wrote the report of the Diversity Commission of the University of Amsterdam. His work seeks to transgress the dominion of contemporaneity, heteronormativity and modernity/coloniality. Through the question of precedence and relational temporalities he seeks to contribute to decolonizing institutions, epistemology, aesthetics and subjectivity.

Organized by: Katayoun Arian is an activist, writer and curator with a background in art history (Leiden University) and a Masters degree in social science/anthropology of organizations (Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam) for which she wrote her thesis on decolonizing Dutch higher education. Her projects range from exhibitions, discursive events and screenings, to reading circles and other forms of interdisciplinary and collaborative work. Recent curatorial projects include Decolonial Options’ Denial, Guilt, Shame, a collaborative project with First Things First, Grada Kilomba: Illusions at Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam (2017) and Voices Outside the Echo Chamber: Questioning Myths, Facts and Framings of Migration, Framer Framed, Amsterdam (2016).

Events will only be in English