Gathering 5: Post/De/Colonial
What is the role of institutions today in rebuilding heritage? How do we think about -- and most importantly, enact -- redress? Featuring contributions from Working Group members Hannah Dawn Henderson and Yasmin Tri Aryani and respondent Sumaya Kassim.
24 March 2022 19:00 - 21:00
In this public gathering, Collecting Otherwise opens up its second iteration, Post/De/Colonial, setting the stage for dialogues and perspectives that centre decolonisation within (heritage) institutions and archives as movements of redress and restitution. During this gathering, we explicitly move on from the gesture of asking questions. What is the role of institutions today in rebuilding heritage? How do we think about -- and most importantly, enact -- redress?
Through selected case studies, the evening will focus on practices and labour from a colonial "abroad". It will give voice to how communities collect and have collected for themselves. We reflect on the future potentials of decolonial agency within the diasporic condition, narrating self empowerment by reclaiming (im)material heritage and design languages surrounding this heritage.
Could redress mean recirculating knowledge back to communities, making space for other archive practices, and thinking about how they can cross over to institutional practices and archives? How do we continue decentred and communal learning that allows for new visions and reclamation?
To help think along these lines, this evening will feature contributions from two Working Group members. Writer and artist Hannah Dawn Henderson explores through a written piece, Uttering Visibility, the semantics, contextualisation, and the allowance for doubt, the specific language, meta-data and archival apparatus surrounding colonial subjects in the Eibink archive. She asks: How do we make visible and communicate doubt, conflicts of ethics, the absence of neutrality, question marks that only bear yet further question marks?
Researcher and illustrator Yasmin Tri Aryani maps out the practices of everyday life surrounding the colonial buildings in Bandung, Indonesia, more specifically the histories surrounding De Driekleur, designed by Albert Aalbers in 1938 and recently renovated by local Indonesian architects. Would it be possible to find bridging interventions between the "inaccessible" modern-colonial houses/villas/buildings and traditional/vernacular settlements?
Joining the discussion and as a respondant for the evening, we welcome writer Sumaya Kassim.
"Collecting Otherwise thus passes through habilitating (ex)colonial peripheries and bodies to people collecting for themselves, according to their own interests and needs. This needs to happen in a situated and re-situated way." -- TBD-THC Cell (To Be Determined-Trojan Horse Cell)
Collecting Otherwise is a research project that helps to ask fundamental questions about the value and meaning of the documents contained in the National Collection of Dutch Architecture and Urban Planning managed by Het Nieuwe Instituut. This research project proposes reading the collection and the practice of collecting and archiving from a perspective in line with current social changes. It focuses on developing alternative methodologies for the acquisition, classification and distribution of heritage.
Collecting Otherwise is part of the Rethinking the Collection initiative, started after the decision by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) to invest in the visibility, restoration and digitisation of the National Collection, and falls under the umbrella of Disclosing Architecture. This project contributes to the ambition of Het Nieuwe Instituut to strengthen its position as a heritage institution, and to the larger goal of taking a critical look at the methods, tools, research themes, languages and alliances that the institute has previously developed.
Sumaya Kassim (she/her) is a writer, editor and curator. She writes fiction as well as essays that think through colonial forms, especially museums, and how we respond to such forms through creative practice. Her essay The museum will not be decolonised (Media Diversified, 2017) is widely cited. Another essay on museums as temples of whiteness is forthcoming in Routledge's Decolonial Art Reader. She is prose editor for Middleground magazine, a publication for creatives of mixed heritage, and is currently writing a long form poem examining the entanglement between colonialism and the environment, several film scripts and a novel. [@_sumayakassim]
Hannah Dawn Henderson is a writer and artist whose practice meditates upon moments when the body's capacity to articulate its presence -- not only in a linguistic or physical sense, but equally within a broader political and social framework -- encounters limitations and is rendered vulnerable. These limitations can include structures that exist as much beyond the body -- such as imposed codes of categorisation, mistranslations and cultural expectations -- as within it, such as fatigue, amnesia, and trauma. Hannah Dawn is based in The Hague and is currently a resident artist at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam. Previous exhibitions and projects have included venues and contexts such as the International Film Festival Rotterdam, Queer Arts Festival Antwerp, Ambika P3 (London), Haus N Athens (Athens), and the Experiments in Cinema Festival (Albuquerque).