15 – 17 December Women + Craft + Poetry

Artists Weekend: Women + Craft + Poetry

Fri 15 Dec – Sun 17 Dec 2017

You are cordially invited to our second Artists Weekend: a weekend full of artist talks, presentations, conversations and poetry readings, from Friday December 15 till Sunday December 17 in Castrum Peregrini. The Artists Weekend is part of our 2017 year programme The Female Perspective, curated by Nina Folkersma. This programme focuses on issues around female identity, feminism and gender, both in relation to the historical context of Castrum Peregrini and its founder Gisèle, and to current events.

The 2nd Artist Weekend is devoted to Women + Craft + Poetry. Guests of honor are two of our artists-in-residence, Aimée Zito Lema and Renée Turner. At their invitation, and in dialogue with curator Nina Folkersma, various artists, curators, writers, weavers and poets are invited to present their work and ideas.

 

PROGRAMME + PARTICIPANTS

Friday, Dec 15   20:00 – 22:00

Introduction Nina Folkersma

Lecture Christel Vesters – Some notes on women, labour and textile craft

Triggered by two unrelated news items about textiles, writer and curator Christel Vesters embarks on an expedition, looking for a common thread that may connect the two. Her explorations touch upon particular events and ideas in the history of textile production, utopian socialism, the Arts & Crafts Movement and the women’s movement, juxtaposing some key moments in those histories with examples from contemporary artist practices.

 

Saturday, Dec 16     14:00 – 18:00

Conversations + presentations

Renée Turner, Joke Haverkorn van Rijsewijk and Kate Briggs 

Narrative and weaving are often associated with each other through the metaphors we use. Join us for a day of presentations and discussions that look at weaving as a hands-on craft and its relation to the act of writing. Renée Turner will talk about her research project The Warp and Weft of Memory and have a conversation with Joke Haverkorn van Rijsewijk about her work at the weaving studio De Uil (The Owl), where she made monumental tapestries for Gisèle and other artists. On view will be some of the images from De Uil and a few of the woven artefacts from Gisèle’s collection. Kate Briggs, author of the recently published book This Little Art, will be drawing analogies between weaving and the processes of writing, translating and storytelling.

Drinks + Fingerfood by Mina Abouzahra

Entrance fee: 5 euro (incl. drinks & snacks)

Make sure you have a seat reserved and RSVP: productie@castrumperegrini.nl

 

Sunday, Dec 17    14:00- 18:00

Readings + conversations

Aimée Zito Lema, Becket Mingwen, Iva Supic Jankovic and School der Poëzie

This afternoon Aimée Zito Lema will introduce her residency project and research on friendship as a form of resistance. Thinking of the house (of Gisèle) as the most intimate and private form of an archive, connected to daily life experiences, she will read one of the transcripts of her conversations on friendship. Visual artist Becket Mingwen will read and analyse one of his latest poems, that speaks of friendship and war. Artist Iva Supic Jankovic will do a singing/reading performance of her own texts. The afternoon will end with poetry readings by teenage students from the School of Poetry, presenting the outcomes of their poetry workshop.

Drinks + Fingerfood by Mina Abouzahra

Entrance fee: 5 euro (incl. drinks & snacks)

Make sure you have a seat reserved and RSVP: productie@castrumperegrini.nl

 

PARTICIPANTS

Mina Abouzahra studied at the Wood and Furniture School in Amsterdam. She has a passion for wood, textiles, copper and marble. A red thread in her life is the combination of different cultures. With the same attitude, Mina was active in the world of food; she wrote recipes, developed food concepts, organized pop-up restaurants and produced with Merijn Tol (Arabia) the cookbook Proef! Orange blossom, the new Moroccan cuisine. The designs of Abouzahra are surprising and colorful, and inspired by a continuous search for new combinations of materials, shapes and production methods. Mina Abouzahra travels every few months to Morocco for inspiration and to search for old, rare and beautiful things she can import, both for her shop and for clients directly.

Kate Briggs is the translator of two volumes of Roland Barthes’s lecture and seminar notes at the Collège de France: The Preparation of the Novel and How to Live Together, both published by Columbia University Press. This Little Art, a long narrative essay on the practice of translation, was published by Fitzcarraldo Editions in September 2017. She teaches on the MFA in Fine Art at the Piet Zwart Institute Rotterdam.

Joke Haverkorn van Rijsewijk is a weaver and writer. With Nenne Koch in 1956, she founded the weaving studio De Uil in Amsterdam. Their first commission was for a tapestry by Gisèle van Waterschoot van der Gracht for the SS Statendam, and later four more tapestries for the clubroom of the S.S. Rotterdam. Haverkorn van Rijsewijk has recently written an essay, ‘Living and Love in Image’ (Leven en liefde verbeeld), reflecting on a tapestry she made based on an image by the German Expressionist August Macke.

Becket Mingwen received his MFA from the University of Southern California in 2014, and was recently a resident at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam, NL. Recent exhibitions include  “n <o> <o> n” at One Gee in Fog, Geneva; “From Concrete to Liquid to Spoken Words to the World” at Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève. His book on Chris Kraus’ 1996 “Chance Event” is forthcoming from Athénée Press.

School der Poëzie, School of Poetry, offers lessons to children and young people to get them acquainted with poetry, writing and performing their own poems. Tailor-made programs and lessons for schools and institutions. The ‘School der Poëzie’ derives its name from the collection of poet Herman Gorter (1897) and a famous poem by Lucebert (1952). http://www.schoolderpoezie.nl

Iva Supic Jankovic, visual artist (born in Croatia), studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie and received a Master degree in Artistic Research from the Royal Academy, The Hague. She produces long term collaborative and trans-diciplinary projects that challenge an question the borders of visual art. More info: http://www.zoldermuseum.com/wordpress/

Renée Turner is an artist, writer and Research Lecturer at the Willem de Kooning Academy. Currently as an artist in residence at Castrum Peregrini, Turner is working on a two-year research project ‘The Warp and Weft of Memory’. Funded by the Mondriaan Funds, her research will result in public lectures, an exhibition and an online narrative, which combines images from Castrum Peregrini’s archive, artefacts from Gisèle’s closet and Turner’s own reflections on memory and objects of heritage.

Christel Vesters studied Art History and Curating in Amsterdam, New York and London. She is a writer and curator, and currently works on a two-year research project Touch/Trace – researching histories through textiles, which unravels the intricate connections between textile, history and society from a contemporary art perspective.

Aimée Zito Lema, visual artist (born in Amsterdam, 1982, grew up in Buenos Aires) studied at the University of the Arts, Buenos Aires, the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam, and was a resident at the Rijksakademie Amsterdam in 2015-2016. Currently an artist in residence at Castrum Peregrini, she is working on a research project about friendship as a form of resistance.

 

Art As Resistance, afl 2 Taking the oil out of the arts

Art As Resistance, #2

Taking the oil out of the arts

Tuesday 28 November 2017, 20 hrs

location: Framer Framed    IJpromenade 2  1013 KT Amsterdam

Reservations / Tickets

Fossil Free Culture NL - Drop the Shell, 2017. Credit: Laura Ponchel

Fossil Free Culture NL – Drop the Shell, 2017. Credit: Laura Ponchel

Framer FramedHumanity in Action Nederland and Castrum Peregrini present a three part symposium series, ‘Art as Resistance’. For the second symposium in the series, ‘Taking the oil out of the arts’, we are zooming in on the ethics of cultural institutions taking on financial sponsorships by fossil fuel companies. How do corporate companies benefit from this ‘greenwashing’? To what extent should their cultural beneficiaries be held responsibie? And what are the impacts of ‘artistic activism’ to address this issue?

Art as Resistance #2 will take place at Framer Framed and features presentations and a workshop by BP or not BP? and Fossil Free Culture NL.  In their presentations, BP or Not BP and Fossil Free Culture NL introduce participants to the topic and present examples of how they create impact through artistic interventions.  The presentations are followed by a workshop Artistic Activism, with both organisations giving practical guidelines on how to generate effective and affective experiences that lead to measurable social change. After the workshop participants will have a better sense of the framework in which the Fossil Free Culture movement work. They will learn to implement artistic tactics to a larger campaigning strategy.

BP or not BP? (a clever play on ‘to be or not to be’ from Shakespeare’s Hamlet) are a national network of ‘actor-vists’ in the UK, performing disobedient theatre in many different oil-sponsored spaces. They are part of the Art Not Oil coalition – a group that protests against museums accepting sponsorship from major oil corporations, which they say is a form of ‘greenwashing’. Read more: https://bp-or-not-bp.org/about/

Fossil Free Culture NL are a network of artists, activists and scholars at the intersection of cultural work and climate politics. They are campaigning to expose and confront the influence of the fossil fuel industry on cultural institutions in the Netherlands. Recent protests include the May & September 2017 impromptu #droptheshell and #spoiledlandscapes protest-performances at the Van Gogh Museum, demonstrating the museum’s ties to oil giant Shell. Several protestors were arrested. Read more: http://fossilfreeculture.nl/

On the organisers: Framer Framed, Humanity in Action Nederland and Castrum Peregrini are organisations dealing with themes of collective memory and cultural identities. In three sessions, we team up to jointly explore the necessity for a change in how cultural institutions and producers should (re)present stories and relate critically to histories as well as to the financial structures they are part of.

Our first symposium, Art as Resistance #1, took place at Castrum Peregrini and dealt with the topic of involving communities in activism and the local relevance of a place.

Read more and see:  https://framerframed.nl/en/projecten/art-as-resistance-1/

 

The Warp and Weft of Memory

The Warp and Weft of Memory

The Warp and Weft of Memory is a research project by artist Renée Turner. She has been funded by the Mondriaan Fund to work at Castrum Peregrini from September 2016 to September 2018.  The work explores the wardrobe of Gisèle d’Ailly van Waterschoot van der Gracht, and the ways in which it reflects her life, work, and histories through textiles and clothing. The aim is to weave connections to the present from a personal perspective. As a whole the project will have different contributions and public manifestations through public lectures, an exhibition and an online narrative combining artefacts, written reflections and images from Gisèle’s own archive of photographs.

Update One Year On: Inside Gisèle’s Closet

Renée Turner

Illustration of Gisèle’s attic apartment closet by Cesare Davolio

Illustration of Gisèle’s attic apartment closet by Cesare Davolio

Her closet is full. Next to garments on hangers, there are also shelves stacked with various accessories and boxes. Summer shoes, wool hats, leather gloves, woven bags and exotic slippers – each box has its own label penned with a black magic marker. More labels float within the boxes; these are subcategories.

The smell of Gisèle’s closet is a combination of dust, dry rot, perfume and naphthalene. The heating pipes run through the closet, making it unbearably warm and the aromas combined with the heat, become a scent diffuser. I try to smell her, but can’t. We can only smell people we’ve known. Or that’s how we recognize that we smell them. Her scent might still be there, but I never knew Gisèle, and cannot recognize it. To be in someone else’s closet is an odd experience. It is intimate, and sometimes uncomfortably so. These objects were the nearest to her body, and many garments still retain her shape. Clothing animates our bodies, and we in turn animate our clothes. Virginia Woolf writes about this in her novel, To the Lighthouse: “What people had shed and left — a pair of shoes, a shooting cap, some faded skirts and coats in wardrobes — those alone kept the human shape and in the emptiness indicated how once they were filled and animated; how once hands were busy with hooks and buttons; how once the looking-glass had held a face; had held a world hollowed out in which a figure turned…” (1) Working on a project like this, I realize projection is inevitable; the gaps are filled with my own reflection.

Left: Gisèle’s mirror 2017, Right: Gisèle’s mirror date unknown

Left: Gisèle’s mirror 2017, Right: Gisèle’s mirror date unknown

I have spent the past year photographing the contents of Gisèle’s closet and scanning relevant images from her photographic archive. Some items are of significance, like her dresses designed by Dick Holthaus, a well-known Dutch designer, and others are more banal, like a box of gloves or a drawer of pantyhose. What should be done with those things with little status?

Some of Gisèle’s clothes are not represented in her archive of photographs. For example, there are no images of her in the Holthaus dresses. Maybe she didn’t like the formal occasions during which she wore them. But other clothes are in images, especially those the most closely related to her work. For example her vividly coloured harlequin costume was used as a source for her paintings. She was her own muse.

An image taken from Gisèle’s archive, one of several photographs of her modelling for one of her paintings. Painting: 'Plumed ladies' (1964)

An image taken from Gisèle’s archive, one of several photographs of her modelling for one of her paintings. Painting: ‘Plumed ladies’ (1964)

Gisèle’s harlequin costume as found in her closet. Made of polyester, the colour remains unfaded.

Gisèle’s harlequin costume as found in her closet. Made of polyester, the colour remains unfaded.

As the clothes are documented, images are scanned, and eventually uploaded and tagged within the digital archive, I think about what makes an object worthy of remembrance. By what merit is something christened heritage or not? With that judgement, the present casts its dice towards an imagined future, waging a bet on stakes unknown. What constitutes value in the now might not be necessarily significant for the future and vice versa. It is a posture akin to Marshall McLuhan’s adage in The Medium is the Massage: “The past went that-a-way. When faced with a totally new situation, we tend always to attach ourselves to the objects, to the flavour of the most recent past. We look at the present through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into the future.” In imagining the future and what it will value, we sometimes fall short of the mark. While McLuhan was speaking about technology, his sentiments are equally prescient when thinking about how we stockpile the present for tomorrow’s history.

Credits and Thanks:

The Mondriaan Fund

Castrum Peregrini: Michael Defuster, Frans Damman & Lars Ebert

Kate Pullinger: contributor

Frans-Willem Korsten: contributor

Andre Castro: mediawiki and server space

Ana Isabel Carvalho and Ricardo Lafuente: frontend design

Cristina Cochior: scans, photography and mediawiki

Cesare Davolio: illustrations

Riek Sijbring: advice on textiles and clothing

 

All images are the sole copyright of the Castrum Peregrini Foundation and were selected and scanned as a part of The Warp and Weft of Memory, a project by artist Renée Turner. The project was made possible through the generous support of the Mondriaan Fund.

 

 

In spring 2016 we announced The Warp and Weft of Memory as upcoming research project by Renée Turner as follows:

 

“Every poet of furniture — even if he be a poet in a garret, and therefore has no furniture — knows that the inner space of an old wardrobe is deep.” 

Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space, 1958

warp and weft

The Warp and Weft of Memory is a research project by artist and writer Renée Turner, which will result in an online narrative exploring the contents of Gisèle d’Ailly van Waterschoot van der Gracht’s wardrobe, and the ways in which it reflects her life, work, and larger histories through textiles and clothing.

The project, combining fact and fiction, has been generously supported by the Creative Industries Fund NL, and is a collaboration with Kate Pullinger (award winning author of novels and digital fiction), Andre Castro (with an expertise in wikis, Open Source software and hybrid publishing), Ana Isabel Carvalho and Ricardo Lafuente (a free/libre graphic design duo working under the name Manufactura Independente), and Cesare Davolio (an illustrator working on educational projects and socially oriented campaigns).

At the end of the research period, the online multi-nodal narrative will be launched along with an exhibition and series of related lectures, presentations and discussions.

 

cifnl

Call for the immediate release of Osman Kavala

We, the friends and supporters of Castrum Peregrini, are deeply concerned by the recent arrest of Osman Kavala. Kavala was detained on 18 October Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport upon returning from the southeastern city of Gaziantep. He has been held in detention ever since. No charges have so far been laid against him.

Osman Kavala is not just a friend of Castrum Peregrini but one of Turkey’s most important intellectual and cultural figures.  He has played a prominent part both in defending the rights and liberties of all in Turkey, and in bringing together people of different political viewpoints to discuss their differences and to work out a common language of civil debate. Nothing could be more important in Turkey – and in many other countries – today.

Osman Kavala has played an important role not just in encouraging discussion inside Turkey but also in presenting the complexities of Turkey to the outside world. His work has been invaluable in making many people outside the country understand and appreciate Turkey. His work should be celebrated, not condemned.

We call for the immediate release of Osman Kavala. We call also for the release of the many others – academics, journalists and public servants – who have also been arrested and detained in recent months in similar circumstances. We support the work of all those in Turkey striving to create a strong civil society in which political disagreements and disputes can be resolved through public discussion and mutual respect.

 

Avraham Burg, author and former speaker of the Knesset, Nataf, Israel

Frans Damman, Michael Defuster and Lars Ebert, Castrum Peregrini, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Adeola Enigbokan, artist and urbanist, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Quinsy Gario, artist and activist, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Kenan Malik, writer, lecturer and broadcaster, London, UK

Dominique Moïsi, political scientist, Paris, France

Wendelien van Oldenborgh, artist, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Diana Pinto, intellectual historian, Paris, France

Mirjam Shatanawi, cultural critic and curator, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Thijs Tromp, Secretary of the board, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Katherine Watson, director European Cultural Foundation, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Gloria Wekker, social and cultural anthropologist, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

NIETS IS OOIT AF – over herinneringsculturen

NIETS IS OOIT AF

“Mijn babykleertjes werden gemaakt van de aan elkaar genaaide stukjes boeklinnen.”

Tentoonstelling & programma over Indische herinneringsculturen

Zondag 24 september 2017, 16 uur

Met: Merapi Obermayer, Esther Captain, Edy Seriese, Het Geluid Maastricht en Erik Somers

Merapi Obermayer

Merapi Obermayer

Baby kleertjes gemaakt van linnen boekomslagen tonen twee gezichten; die van de feitelijke geschiedenis en die van de herinneringsculturen, zoals weerspiegeld in het verhaal van de ouders van Merapi Obermayer, verteld in hun eigen woorden en vervolgens in die van hun dochter. De kleertjes zijn de onthutsend tastbare getuigenis van dit verleden.

Pas als volwassene ontvangt Merapi Obermayer de kleertjes die zij vanaf haar geboorte (1947) droeg in een leprakolonie op het eiland Java / Indonesië: ‘Er was aan alles gebrek. De bibliotheek bracht uitkomst. Van de boeken die er nog stonden weekten mijn ouders het linnen af. Mijn babykleertjes zijn gemaakt van de aan elkaar genaaide stukjes boeklinnen. De belangrijkste kleuren zijn oudroze, geel en oker, kleuren waar mijn moeder veel van hield. Ze passen bij het landschap van Indonesië̈’ Met het overdragen van die kleertjes aan Merapi, kwam ook het levensverhaal van haar ouders voor het eerst ter sprake. Een verhaal dat hoort bij de periode 1945 – 1950 als in Indonesië een dekolonisatieoorlog woedt, een periode die zowel in de Nederlandse en Indonesische geschiedenis tot heden niet of nauwelijks is onderzocht.

Het programma op zondag 24 september gaat over hoe objecten en verhalen, als ‘herinneraars’ behulpzaam zijn. Binnen elke generatie komen er ‘breuken in het levensverhaal‘ voor die erom vragen weer verbonden te worden zodat de wonden van traumatische belevenissen geheeld kunnen worden.

De sprekers laten zowel de historische- als de creatieve kant van herinneringsculturen aan bod komen:

Merapi Obermayer, dichter en beeldend kunstenaar: ‘je eigen taal is de taal die je het minste spreekt.’ Zij noemt haar werk: ‘Fragmenten die voorbijgaan. Dat is wat we zijn.’

Esther Captain, historicus hoofd kenniscentrum HvA en onderzoeker bij het programma ‘Dekolonisatie, geweld en oorlog in Indonesië 1945-1950’

Edy Seriese, literatuurwetenschapper en directeur Indisch Wetenschappelijk Instituut

Het Geluid Maastricht, muziek theater gezelschap van Gable en Romy Roelofsen

Erik Somers, cultuurhistoricus werkzaam bij het NIOD, publiceerde o.a. “De Oorlog in het Museum. Herinnering en Verbeelding”

‘Niets is ooit af’, bijdrage: Erik Somers:

‘Wanneer je een willekeurig schelpje van het strand wegneemt en je legt dat bij de juwelier in de etalage, op een roodfluwelen doekje met een spotje erboven, dan heeft, denk ik, iedereen de neiging uit te roepen: “wat een mooi schelpje ligt daar!” Andersom, wanneer je uit diezelfde juweliersetalage een ontzettend kostbaar edelsteentje wegneemt en op het strand gooit, dan ziet niemand het tussen de andere flonkerende steentjes en schelpen …’  Karel Kruijsen (grafisch ontwerper), geciteerd in: Karin Rietbroek, ‘Tentoonstellingsvormgeving tussen technologische en maatschappelijke verandering’, in: Donald Janssen e.a. (red.), Tentoonstellingsvormgeving (Eindhoven 2002), p. 8.

 Erfgoed is geen ding waar je een stolp overheen moet zetten en met je fikken af moet blijven. Het is iets uit het verleden dat je doorgeeft aan de volgende generaties. Bij dat doorgeven gaat het niet zozeer om het bewaarde object, maar veel meer om het verhaal erachter.’  Patrick Timmermans, directeur Erfgoed Brabant (mest Magazine, nr. 2, juni 2013).

Het beeld dat wij van het verleden hebben wordt gevormd door de herinneringen die we hebben, die we overgedragen krijgen, en die we vervolgens interpreteren. Individuele herinneringen, die sterk subjectief zijn en ingekleurd worden. Zij worden beïnvloed door onze omgeving, door invloeden van buitenaf en door allerlei ervaringen nadien. Zij bepalen voor een belangrijk deel wie we zijn. Zij vormen onze persoonlijke identiteit.

Als persoonlijke ervaringen en herinneringen onderdeel worden van een groep en gedeeld worden door anderen, dan ontwikkelt zich een proces van een gedeeld verleden; van een sociale herinneringen. Herinneringen die overgedragen worden van generaties op generaties. Het maakt bijvoorbeeld dat wij vandaag de dag nog steeds levende herinneringen hebben aan de oorlogsjaren: de Duitse bezetting van Nederland, de vervolging, de terreur. En ook de oorlog in Indië: de Japanse bezetting van Indië, de bevrijding, de dekolonisatie die met geweld van verschillende kanten gepaard ging, de repatriëring en het opbouwen van een nieuw leven. Zo zijn er verschillende herinneringsgemeenschappen en herinneringsculturen ontstaan. De geschiedenis van de herinnering aan bijvoorbeeld de oorlog in Nederland en Indonesië is veelvormig en voortdurend aan veranderingen onderhevig. Het is een voortdurend proces van nieuwe inzichten en herinterpretatie. Daarom zijn we ook voortdurend bezig onze geschiedenis te herschrijven.

Het omgaan met de herinneringen aan het verleden speelt zich af in ons hoofd. Omdat deze bepalend zijn voor ons zijn, zoeken we naar ankerpunten om die herinneren levend te houden. Vooral ook door deze tastbaar te maken. (Uit geen enkele periode is zoveel verzameld als over de Tweede Wereldoorlog.)

Het tastbaar maken van het verleden gebeurt bij uitstek een historisch museum. Hier wordt verzameld wat we belangrijk vinden om te bewaren omdat het iets verteld over wie we zijn. Je kan dus zeggen dat in het museum – en in tentoonstellingen – een bijdrage wordt geleverd aan de samenhang in de gemeenschap.

Musea beperkten zich vroeger vooral tot het beheren van objecten en bezittingen en het overdragen hiervan van generatie op generatie. We noemen dat ook wel historisch erfgoed.

Tegenwoordig hebben we het over cultureel erfgoed. Dit verwijst naar een actuele betekenis; naar de waarde die aan objecten uit het verleden ontleend kan worden. Aan wat wij als samenleving belangrijk vinden om te bewaren, te beschermen en ook in de toekomst door te geven, wordt een actieve overdracht en betekenisgeving verbonden. Een betekenis die voor een bepaalde samenleving of groep bijdraagt aan, noem het identiteitsvorming van deze samenleving of groep. Een object uit het verleden krijgt dus óók een symboolwaarde.

Het belang zit dus niet alleen in de functie die het object had in het verleden, maar ook in de samenhang waarin het wordt getoond. Zo kan het heel goed zijn dat de oorspronkelijke waarde en betekenis heel anders zijn dan het gewicht dat er vervolgens, vanuit het perspectief van een erfgoedobject, bewust en actief aan wordt gegeven.

Objecten verheffen zich niet op eigen kracht tot erfgoed. Objecten worden erfgoed doordat mensen die dezelfde waarden delen er erfgoed van maken. Door er een generatie-overstijgende, symbolische betekenis aan toe te kennen en te besluiten er een symbool van hun relatie met het verleden van te maken. Kortom, objecten worden geen erfgoed omdat ze ons iets te vertellen hebben, maar omdat mensen iets met ze willen vertellen.

Het gaat om de verhalen die aan de objecten gekoppeld zijn. Die worden door betrokkenen verteld. Dat kunnen overlevenden zijn die uit eigen ervaring vertellen, maar ook conservatoren, samenstellers van tentoonstellingen. Zij presenteren een eigentijdse interpretatie in een poging het verleden begrijpelijk te maken. Erfgoed is daarbij een bruikbaar instrument.

Erfgoed heeft dus te maken met interpretaties van het verleden en is onderhevig aan een proces van duiding en keuzes. Het is subjectief en veranderlijk, en heeft ook nog eens een actuele politieke, maatschappelijk en culturele functie. Erfgoed is een creatie van het hier en nu, gecreëerd, gevormd en beheerd als reactie op wensen en verlangens die vandaag de dag in de samenleving heersen.

Barbara Kirshenblatt (Museum Polin, Warschau en hoogleraar museum presentaties in New York) vindt dat musea bij uitstek dragers van erfgoed zijn geworden. Zij spreekt over erfgoed als een vorm van culturele productie: cultureel erfgoed is weliswaar gebaseerd op het verleden, maar brengt ook iets nieuws voort. Aan de tentoongestelde objecten worden vanuit het erfgoedbesef culturele waarden toegevoegd. Erfgoed is een proces van meta-culturele handelingen. Dat wat getoond wordt in een museum wordt verbonden met levende personen, hun kennis, hun handelingen, hun voorwerpen, hun sociale wereld, hun leefomgeving en hun herinneringen. Erfgoed veronderstelt een zelfbewuste selectie van wat waardevol geacht wordt, zo betoogt Kirschenblatt. Kortom, hoe er ook tegen erfgoed wordt aangekeken, het zegt vooral iets over hen die het creëren.

Belangrijk element verbonden aan objecten en de persoonlijke verhalen is dat deze vorm het publiek aanspreekt. Het is overtuigend. De bezoeker kan zich inleven: het roept emotie op. Ook, omdat het met authenticiteit en authenticiteits-beleving te maken heeft. Of, zoals cultuurfilosoof Walter Benjamin het noemt, Der Magie der Dinge. Het verleden wordt voorstelbaar en inleefbaar gemaakt door het tonen van authentieke voorwerpen. Daarbij wordt de betrokkenheid van bezoekers vergroot doordat het publiek in staat wordt gesteld zich te identificeren met individuele ervaringen en persoonlijke getuigenissen, waarbij de afstandelijke feitelijke geschiedenis wordt teruggebracht tot subjectieve herinneringen van individuen.
Die behoefte om het verleden tastbaar en inleefbaar te maken, verklaart ook de groeiende belangstelling om persoonlijke geschiedenissen in relatie te brengen met tastbare herinneringsplekken. (Castrum Peregrini!)

(Voorbeeld: Nieuwe inrichting Fries Museum (Fries Verzetsmuseum):

Zaal Ontmoetingen – en zaal Erfgoed. De gekozen objecten zijn verbonden aan een persoonlijke herkomst. De geëxposeerde objecten worden dus niet gekozen op historische waarde, maar juist op de geschiktheid bezoekers te kunnen raken. Het object roept een emotie op, de bezoeker kan zich inleven.

De museumcollectie dient als bron om op zoek te gaan naar verhalen achter het object. Het materieel erfgoed is een soort vehikel voor overdracht van dat verhaal. Het accent wordt gelegd op de reeks aan betekenisgevingen verbonden aan de authenticiteit van het museale object,. Pas als het verhaal verteld wordt, krijgt het object karakter en betekenis.

Belangrijk element. Door het verhaal komt het object tot leven, het spreekt het publiek aan.

Voor het publiek)

Het proces van tastbare objecten, waaraan verhalen zijn verbonden – verhalen die bepalend zijn voor de herinneringen en hoe we nu op het verleden terug kijken – vinden hun oorsprong in de puur individuele en persoonlijke beleving.

Wij zien dit alles terug in het werk van Merapi Obermayer. En als ik spreek bijvoorbeeld over de samenhang van een samenleving die in een museum wordt gepresenteerd, geldt dat bij uitstek ook voor in de creaties van Merapi. Haar werk komt voort uit een intense zoektocht: een innerlijke drang om te weten hoe situaties zijn ontstaan, om te willen weten waarom je bent wie je bent. Het komt voort uit een behoefte om te willen verklaren. Het zich willen verdiepen in het proces van herinneren.

Dit proces heeft zij vormgegeven door aan een voor haar betekenisvol historische object, een interpretatie van haar herinneringen, haar eigen ervaringen en de overgeleverde ervaringen te verbinden. Deze herinneringen te verklaren, maar vooral ook door er een artistieke, kunstzinnige vertaling aan toe te voegen. Dus wat Barbara Kirshenblatt zegt over erfgoed als een culturele productie, vat Merapi feitelijk ook nog eens heel letterlijk op. Op de overblijfselen van het verleden, en de uitgesproken en onuitgesproken herinneringen daaraan, creëert Merapi haar eigen werkelijkheid.

Herinneringen uit haar leven, haar jeugd, haar relatie tot Indië, de erfenissen van het verleden die op haar overgedragen zijn, haar familiegeschiedenis die haar naar Nederland bracht, het leggen van verbintenissen tussen haar Nederlandse en Indische geschiedenis: het komt op een bepaalde manier allemaal terug in haar werk.

Daarnaast verbindt zij haar beeldende werk met het schrijven: haar andere passie en gave. Die combinatie stelt haar in staat zoals zij het zelf noemt ‘haar eigen landschappen te creëren’. Zij zegt zelf: ‘Wie geen landschap heeft moet er zelf maar één samenstellen’. Schrijven is onderdeel van haar beeldende kunst.

Woorden, zinnen, taal: zij is er voortdurend mee bezig. Zij stellen haar in staat om haar emoties te verwoorden, maar vooral haar gedachtes en herinneringen te ordenen en tot nieuw inzichten te komen.

Zo betekenen de woorden ‘vrijheid’ en ‘bevrijding’ veel voor haar. Twee ogenschijnlijke nauw verwante begrippen, die inderdaad interactie oproepen, maar toch heel sterk een eigen dynamiek hebben en waar zij moeiteloos betekenissen als: uitsluiting, geborgenheid, loslaten, vervolging, geweld, onthechting en gedwongen afscheid aan weet te verbinden. Een dergelijke gedachtegang kan ze ook ontwikkelen als ze het heeft over, deels eigen bedachte begrippen als ‘inburgeren’, ‘uitburgeren’ en ‘ontburgeren’. En hierin zie je ook haar zoektocht om niet alleen in de kunst haar eigen weg te bewandelen, maar ook haar eigen taal te zoeken. Het bracht haar tot de uitspraak: ‘Je eigen taal is de taal die je het minste spreekt’.

En als je vraagt haar eigen werk kernachtig samen te vatten, dan zegt ze: “het zijn slechts fragmenten die voorbij gaan” . Daar voegen we vandaag aan toe: ‘Niets is ooit af’.

Transhistoric Coalition welcomes Smári Róbertsson

De Oude Kerk, Museum van Loon, Castrum Peregrini and De Reinwardt Academie make up the coalition “Transhistoriciteit” supported within the framework of 3Package Deal. It wants to stimulate ‘creative producers’ to develop activities that connect and combine historic periods and cultural contexts.

The coalition partners have selected Smári Róbertsson to work with the four institutions From October 2017 to October 2018. Róbertsson will follow up Ronit Porat who was the first artist supported by the coalition. 

Smári Róbertsson (Iceland,1992) is an artist based in Amsterdam. In his poetic works he explores site-specific phenomena and basic architectural elements, which are translated through his practice into written pieces, musical compositions and site-specific installations. The focus of his work often lies on the inherit need we feel to autobiographize our life experiences in order to account for our existence and surrounding. Through his works we encounter objects, who’s history not only shaped them, but who owe their autonomy and existence to the incidental processes which happen in the backdrop of our own lives.

Róbertsson holds a BFA from Gerrit Rietveld Academie (2015) and an MA from the Sandberg Institute (2017) in Amsterdam.

See http://smarirunarrobertsson.com/

2017: The Female Perspective

Starting point of the 2017 programme is the artist and founder of Castrum Peregrini, Gisèle van Waterschoot van der Gracht (1912 – 2013). The life of Gisèle proves time and again to be a source of inspiration for artists, writers and intellectuals. Nevertheless, her female sex and more generally the female identity and sexuality have not been a theme in Castrum Peregrini’s programme before. The Female Perspective zooms in on the ‘womanhood’ of Gisèle and the social and cultural meanings of female identity, sexuality, feminism and gender, both in relation to the historical context and to current events.

All events of this programme are shown in the general events agenda.

 

Living as Form

Register now!

.

This two-day international conference in Amsterdam about participatory art in education and culture features keynote presentations of cutting edge initiatives, panel discussions, workshops and open space technology sessions for an active role of all participants sharing their practice and peer-to-peer exchange.

 

With a.o. Renzo Martens, Patricia Kaesenhout, Pier Luigi Sacco,- and you!

 

The conference Living as Form follows up on previous conferences Participation on Trial (Amsterdam, October 2014) and  European Academy of Participation (Dublin, October 2016). It concludes the 2nd year of the EU project European Academy of Participation,

Living as Form brings together international and national initiatives to foster synergies: How is internationalisation of education taking shape? What good practice can we share of border crossing artistic and community work? How to match the international and the local in cultural programmes?

Living as Form wants to discuss the relations of the cultural and social field and education and the possibilities of a formalised educational offer for artists that involves all these areas.

 

Please find here the detailed programme Living as Form

 

Who should participate?

 

Artists, curators, producers, community and institutional leaders, teachers, researchers and critics, from the Netherlands and internationally.


Why?

 

Nato Thompson, from whom we borrow the title of this conference, asks whether it is time at the beginning of the 21st century to return Duchamps urinal from the museum to the real world. But the question arises whether it would be accepted by the ‘real world’ today, where one is suspicious towards arts and the artists in their elite bubble. Art keeps engaging with life, trying to find new forms of expression and impact. What is the artistic form of live today, or should we rather talk about art as resistance? And how does education prepare the artists of the future for their role in these new realities?

The conference Living as Form will critically discuss the embeddedness of participatory practice in an international framework that has rapidly changed in the last two years. Before that participatory art has largely been perceived through the historical lens of what happed since the fall of the Berlin wall. The ‘end of history’-feeling has led to the long prevailing paradigm of neoliberalism, our current political order of free trade and open markets. In this paradigm the private sector takes the lead and the role of the public and that of the state supporting the public is pushed to the background. Simultaneously, alongside the positive effects of participation in and through art and culture, the term participation has been appropriated by the neoliberal policies to stress the fact that individuals need to take their own responsibility versus a withdrawing welfare state. Political support focussed on the economy and the financial market, not the citizen. In turn, and quite ironically, citizens and artists were expected to compensate for austerity politics, being manoeuvred into roles that would ‘art wash’ a misery that should have actually been solved by other professionals: care takers, city planners, social workers etc..

Meanwhile the world has changed. One could believe that in countries like the USA, Britain, Poland, the Netherlands and Hungary, the revolutionary potential of people and their representatives, long considered to be the domain of the left, is now with populist and nationalist movements that battle principles of enlightenment such as human rights, equality and solidarity. In the fake and factless news their representatives produce, expertise, high end culture and, consequently, artists are framed as the enemies of the ‘people’. Nevertheless, the basic question stays the same: how can artists engage with communities in a mutual beneficial way, towards progress and more culturally and economically inclusive societies?

 

In the period October 2015 – February 2016 all partners of the EAP project have collaboratively developed a Tuning Document Participatory Art Practice_Creative Producer and the respective graduate profile of a Creative Producer. The document is intended as a reference document that reflects the diversity of the field in Europe and at the same time serves as a benchmark for curriculum builders, teachers, employers and all those academics and practitioners that want to enhance educational and practical development. It sets out to establish a MA level standard and contribute to enhancing pedagogy in this field of practice. It is published at www.academyofparticipation.org.

The documents competences inform an intensive Higher Education Course Module that EAP has piloted in London in July 2017 with 30 international students (art graduates and mid-career artists) and 12 international teachers.

The conference is embedded in the projects activities and discussions so far and invites the Dutch and the International field to contribute with expertise and experiences and use the event as a networking and sharing possibility.


Where

 

Doopsgezinde Kerk, Singel 452, Amsterdam; Castrum Peregrini, Herengracht 401, Amsterdam; Goethe-Institut, Herengracht 470, Amsterdam.


Time

 

Start Thursday, 26 October 2017, 12 hrs
End Friday 27 October 2017, 18 hrs

 

Programme

 

See the preliminary programme: Programme Living as Form

 

Fee

 

The registration fee will cover catering on both days and conference material:

Regular 25 Euro per day. 2 days combi ticket 40 euros
Students fee 15 euro per day. 2 days combi ticket 25 euros

 

Registration

 


 

Organised by

 

Castrum Peregrini, Amsterdam, The Netherlands representing the EAP – European Academy of Participation partners.

In collaboration with Goethe Institut Lyon and Amsterdam, Tandem for Culture, Community Participation (European Cultural Foundation/MitOst), A Sharing Academy (Merlijn Twaalfhoven), and representatives of the Willem De Kooning Academy Rotterdam, DAS Art Amsterdam, University of Utrecht and University of the Arts Utrecht.

The conference is financially supported by Fonds Voor Cultuurparticipatie, The Erasmus+ programme of the European Commission and the Goethe Institute Netherlands.

 

 

 

 

Castrum Peregrini Foundation is an independent cultural centre in an Amsterdam canal house. It emerged out of a community that survived there in hiding during World War II. It wants to be a place where individuals come together to make a positive contribution to an inclusive society. Participation in art and culture is a prime instrument towards this goal.

Research Council

Radical openness towards the past

The complex history of Castrum Peregrini has been subject to research of historians, literature scholars, sociologists and artists. Despite the many and good studies that exist there is a growing demand for research into areas such as resistance, subversive strategies, the relation of arts, crafts and community as well as ideology and politics of the apolitical e.a.

It is equally and especially important to shed light on power relations, sexual dependencies and group dynamics as well as on issues of gender, race and class.

We want to encourage all independend research related to the many histories of Castrum Peregrini. The archives that are accessible in our premises are open for all serious researchers.

In the light of the recent interest in possible sexual abuse in the circles around Wolfgang Frommel we support all efforts to shed light on this troubled past.

Proposals of research projects will be put forward to our research council chaired by Prof. Rosemarie Buikema (University of Utrecht). The council will appraise applications and support researchers. Later in 2017 the council will also publish their own research agenda.

Applications for use of our archives can be put forward to mail@castrumperegrini.nl

 

Research council

 

Prof. Rosemarie Buikema, University of Utrecht, NL (chair)

Prof. Ernst van Alphen, Leiden University, NL

Prof. Aleida Assmann, Universität Konstanz, DE

Dr. Ursula Langkau-Alex, International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam, NL

Vergangenheitsbewältigung

“We all carry the Castrum story in us. It has settled in the corners of memory, taken various shapes that we bring to the surface from time to time, from this we can piece a puzzle. And then it will gain a face and others will look at it as one does at a portrait. But everyone will see something else. “

Documentary maker Janina Pigaht uses this quote of Gisèle to end her film Herengracht 401’ a fascinating portrait of Castrum Peregrini in times where it needed to reinvent itself after the death of Gisèle in 2013. Janina followed Castrum Peregrini and its current and former inhabitants over the period of two years. [Read more…]

Castrum Peregrini Dialogue

We have realised the first round of our think tank, the Castrum Peregrinin Dialogue, with the generous support of the Pauwhoff Fund and in close partnership with the European Cultural Foundation and the Dialogue Advisory Group. The latter – an internationally acclaimed group of peace mediators- holds office here in our premises.

The ECF is a kindred organisation that is close to our heart in many respects. With our own history as a hiding place in which art, culture and friendship helpt young people to survive in this house we embrace ECFs mission to strive for an open, democratic and inclusive Europe within which culture is a valued and key contributor.

Together Castrum Peregrini and the ECF share the desire to develop viable concepts of living together in diversity.

In our recent publication The House of Gisèle we have published Kenan Maliks wonderful article Living in Diversity, a lecture that he delivered when we launched the house of Gisèle and Job Cohen unveiled a plaque at our building in May 2016. We took Kenans tekst as a motivation, a framing paper so to speak to bring together a divers group of thinkers from all walks of life and various disciplines to meet three times in one year for 2,5 days and analyse in a conversation, the root causes of fragmentation in Europe and the world today and what we need to take into account when thinking about how living in diversity can work. We tried to balance participation of man and woman, younger and older generation, white and non-white, various religious backgrounds. Also we made sure that we create a protected environment, apply Chatham House Rules for instance, so that everyone feels safe and can speak up, be vulnerable and engage in a dialogue that is based on learning from one another in the first place. Our experience is that our heritage – like the studio of Gisèle – offers a frame, physically and spiritually, which makes those conversations more easy, respectful and intense.

Also we engaged two experienced moderators, Avrum Burg, members of our board of recommendation, author and former speaker of the Knesset as well as Ram Manikkalingam, director of the Dialogue Advisory Group, seconded by Fleur Ravensbergen.

We work to a set agenda, everybody of the 20 participants around the table gives a short input to a certain session, like social justice, and then we speak for 1,5 hours, before we go to the next session. All is reported and after three meetings we bundle it to share it with opinnleaders, programme makers, activists etc. For this first round of meetings 2016/17 we strive to publish outcomes by December 2017.

Participants
  1. Avraham Burg, author, former politician, a.o. speaker of the Knesset (moderator)
  2. Ram Manikkalingam, director Dialogue Advisory Group (moderator)
  3. Fleur Ravensbergen, deputy director Dialogue Advisory Group (moderator)
  4. Mirjam Shatanawi, curator Middle East and North Africa, Tropen Museum, NL (rapporteur)
  5. Brian Burgoon, Director Institute for Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam, NL
  6. Adeola Enigbokan, Social Scientist, Amsterdam/New York
  7. Quinsy Gario, poet, artist, activist, NL
  8. Osman Kavala, president Anadolu Kültür, Istanbul, TR
  9. Charl Landvreugd, artist, curator, writer, Rotterdam, NL
  10. Kenan Malik, writer, lecturer, broadcaster, London, UK
  11. Dominique Moïsi, political scientist and writer, Paris, FR
  12. Wendelien van Oldenborgh, artist, representing NL at 2017 Venice Biennale, NL
  13. Thijs Tromp, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, Amsterdam, NL
  14. Diana Pinto, cultural historian, Paris, FR
  15. Jordi Vaquer, regional director for Europe at Open Society, ES
  16. Katherine Watson, director European Cultural Foundation, Amsterdam, NL
  17. Gloria Wekker, Anthropologist and author, NL
  18. Gertraud Auer Borea d’Olmo, secretary general Bruno Kreisky Forum, Vienna, AT

SYNCHRONICLE by Carina Erdmann

‘SYNCHRONICLE’

by Carina Erdmann

28 – 30 September 2017

OPENING Thursday 28th September:

20.00 film on loop 21.00 artist talk with Daniel Vorthuys

21.30 ‘objects also die’ by Jacob Eriksen
Friday 29 September, 12 – 18 hrs open

Saturday 30 September, 16 – 18 hrs finissage (programme)

on display:

a video installation and photo series

‘FICTION SMELLS SWEETER THAN SANDALWOOD’ alongside

the publication ‘HOUSE OF STORIES’ containing 10 commissioned texts.

On Thursday evening, Jakob Eriksen will perform a live version of ‘Objects Also Die’ consisting of the sonic material developed for ‘House Of Stories’ and ‘Synchronicle’

 

 

Objects as mute witnesses retain the history they have experienced, like a vessel. Through the sensibilities of associative minds and bodies, objects can voice their material past, engaging in a dialogue across the limits of space and time. Rather than presenting a coherent version of truth, new reflexive story lines are established at the intersections and fractions of collective memory.

FINISSAGE Sunday 30 september:

 

Artist Weekend: Women and Resistance

Artist Weekend: Women and Resistance

Remembering is repetition. Remembering is the only confusion. Do you understand?

by Amber Coomans

5 – 7 May 2017

As a heritage student, something I learned on the first day was that history is constructed. Heritage is a label that people stick onto something they find important. This Artist Weekend is about that very aspect of history: how come when we google the word resistance (verzet in Dutch), only one woman pops up in Google Images?

From Friday May 5th until Sunday May 7th I attended Castrum Peregrini’s first Artist Weekend: Women and Resistance, a weekend full of artist talks, debates, presentations and film screenings. The weekend is part of a yearlong program titled The Female Perspective, which focuses on questions of female identity, feminism and gender, both in relation to the historical context of Castrum Peregrini and its founder Gisèle van Waterschoot van der Gracht. I watched this weekend, obviously, through my own eyes: a young heritage student with many questions about history, heritage and also about Gisèle’s own affinity with the female identity which was broadly debated this weekend.

The weekend opens with an introduction by curator Nina Folkersma, in which she explains more about the Female Perspective in relation to Castrum Peregrini: the house of female artist Gisèle, where she worked and lived, is the perfect place for such an event. Castrum Peregrini not only wants to preserve the material heritage of her studio and living space, but also the immaterial heritage of friendship, respect, culture and art. In WWII, Castrum Pererini served as a hiding place where spiritual and artistic freedom was the greatest survival tool.

This freedom also plays a central role in the film by Lynn Herschman that follows Folkersma’s introduction. It is about the relationship between the feminist art movement and the anti-war movement in the 1970s. The film has an impressive beginning: visitors of the Whitney Museum in New York are asked to name three female artists. They can only think of Frida Kahlo. The movie continues and a long impressive list of female artists comes along. Artists such as Judy Chicago, Nancy Spero, Howardena Pindell and Judith Baca, names I have never heard of; names that young artist and art student Janine Antoni has never heard of and names that – in literature – seem unfindable in the libraries of America. The three words that describe the feminist art movement are still relevant today: Women Art Revolution.

 

Bianca Stigter, Marjan Schwegman and Pieter Paul Pothoven present their work on the 6th of May. Bianca Stigter is former editor of the Dutch national newspaper NRC Handelsblad and one of the foremost cultural critics and historical writers in the Netherlands. Later this year, she will release the revised and richly illustrated edition ‘Atlas van een bezette stad’ (Atlas of an Occupied City). Stigter presents an impressive list of female resistance fighters like Frieda Belinfante, Rosa Boekdrukker, Marie Tellegen and Gesina van der Meulen. She also shows that many of these female heroes were related to each other, and part of the Amsterdam elite. Next is Marjan Schwegman, professor in Politics and Culture at the faculty of Humanities at Utrecht University. From 2007 to 2016 she was the managing director of NIOD (Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies). In her presentation she explains how the women Stigter talked about, became invisible. These women became partially invisible because historians often defined resistance on the basis of hard, ‘masculine’ characteristics. In the work of Loe de Jong, women are virtually absent because, as a typical man of his time, he does not include how the people in hiding were taken care of.

The role of women, who appear in the Dutch history of the resistance, is mostly described as supporting in the form of a courier. The role as courier became the focusing-point, though at the same time, Jacoba van Tongeren for instance, was not only a courier but also had a leading role in the famous group 2000.

Schwegman is interested in the dilemma of using violence, especially because religion was very important in people’s lives at the time.

Multimedia artist Pieter Paul Pothoven researches Amsterdam based socialist resistance groups, like RARA and CS6 before, during and after the war, in which both men and women played active roles. He is also interested in the dilemma of using violence: how can this history be presented without falling into nostalgia and glorification of violence? He states that it all depends on your view on life: are you already seeing violence all around you? And what does the term violence mean? Some people see the exclusion of refugees as violent.

In the round table discussion afterwards, Pothoven states that the mainstream historiography is very patriarchal. He tries to put himself in the role of a young girl: what history books could I read in which I recognize myself? A member of the audience asks what it means that Pothoven, again as a man, is writing down this history of women. But why should men always account for this? Asks Schwegman: “I have written about men and I have never had this question.”

 

The third and last day of talks has a very different feeling than the day before: more personal and vulnerable, and this is mainly because the speakers tend to put themselves into the position of someone else. What the speakers have in common is their struggle with the theme “truth”.

Aya Johanna Daniëlle Dürst Britt holds an MFA from Leiden Unicersity in Islamic studies. She is an editor of the online al.arte.magazine, which publishes articles in Dutch and English about art, culture and society in relation to Islam. In Leiden she studied the life and work of Hasrad Inayat Khan, the founder of the Universal Sufism, and father of Noor Inayat Khan: resistance fighter and first female radio operator to be sent from Britain into occupied France to aid the French Resistance. Apart from an impressive ancestry, with royals and a long line of mystics and musicians, she also grew up hearing Dutch, as her father’s organisation would develop into the universal Sufi Movement in the West. It has a significant branch in the Netherlands, especially in the city of The Hague. Noor Inayat Khan built up a resistance group, but was betrayed by a jealous woman. This lead to her being imprisoned for several years, and eventually, a death sentence. Her last word, before her execution, was: ‘Liberté!’. This could be interpreted in the spiritual sense she grew up with: spiritual freedom. Britt asks herself the question: “What would I do? I am like her, I love music, art, and mysticism. Would I sacrifice myself?”

Ronit Porat works with photographic materials and combines them with biographical texts and materials from archives. She was born in a Kibbutz in the north of Israel, where history played an essential role in the formation of both personal and national narratives. When she finds a story that touches her in a way, she adds a layer of imagination and very often an autobiographical layer. She states that she is not very interested in the “truth”, because there is no such thing as truth. She really enjoys spending time in archives but finds it difficult to get access. Later in the round table discussion an audience member presses the fact that archives are constructed, and that fiction and history cannot be separated.

Annet Mooij, researcher and writer working on a biography of Gisèle recognizes this. Histories are stories, filled with affection and emotions. This makes writing the life story of Gisèle so very difficult. “My task is to add some meaning, logic or even a question mark to the stories. The story behind the story is impossible to find.”

Of course the weekend is about the Female Perspective, but Gisèle herself really struggled with the term femininity. In the period of her resistance in the war, she was responsible for the money, in that way she wasn’t ‘female’ at all! Later, one of the hiders accused her of being too masculine: “You made use of my male part, now you accuse me of being too masculine!?” In a letter to her husband, mayor Arnold d’Ailly, she even writes that she hates being a woman. Besides, Gisèle never focused on herself as a ‘female artist’. In that perspective it’s even more interesting that a weekend like this is, which is focussing exactly on the female aspect of artists and resistance fighters, is being organised in her former studio. What would she think of that?

 

Remembering is the only repetition. Remembering is the only confusion. No matter how complicated anything is, if it is not mixed up with remembering, there is no confusion. (Insistence, Andrea Greyer)

This quote of the screened movie sums up this artist weekend for me. I ended up having more questions after the weekend than I had before. What is resistance? What does female resistance mean? What is truth?

Reasonable Doubt – Mieke Bal

Exhibition

Reasonable Doubt by Mieke BalReasonable Doubt_Mieke Bal 18 maart 2017 Photo by Przemo Wojciechowski

Opening Saturday March, 18th at 17 hrs

Reasonable Doubt (2016), the latest film project by cultural theorist and critic Mieke Bal, is an experiment to audio-visualise ‘thought’. Mixing docu-drama with theoretical fiction, the project stages scenes from the lives of philosopher René Descartes (1596-1650) and the Swedish Queen Kristina (1626-1689).

Reasonable Doubt is on show till 13 April 2017, open Tuesday till Friday 12 – 18 hrs.

Thursday 13 april, exhibition is closed at 15:30 hrs

Artist Talk: Mieke Bal on Reasonable Doubt 

On March 30, Mieke Bal will talk about ‘thinking in film’: an experiment to audio-visualise thought. In accordance with her concept of ‘thinking as a social process’, this talk will not be like lecturing ‘at’ people, but sharing the excitement of discovering how things work.  RSVP productie@castrumperegrini.nl

read here the review by Jeroen Lutters published in MetropolisM: “Hommage aan Mieke Bal”

intellectual playground
think tank, projects,
research

 

Featured Project

Living as Form

A two-day international conference about participatory art with keynote presentations of cutting edge initiatives, panel discussions, workshops and open space technology sessions. With a.o. Renzo Martens, Patricia Kaersenhout, Pierluigi Sacco,- and you!

 

 

http://castrumperegrini.org/2017/06/06/10379/

Kunsttarot – De Kaarten van Gisèle

Het kunstenaarscollectief DE PARASIET  maakte een selectie uit de vele objecten uit het atelier van Gisèle (1912-2013) en schreven er telkens een korte tekst bij die tezamen een serie serieuze, wonderlijke, wijze en ludieke levenslessen vormen in hun nieuwste KUNSTTAROT – De Kaarten van Gisèle die nu i.s.m. Castrum Peregrini wordt gepubliceerd.

Bestel dit bijzondere Kunsttarot nu via productie@castrumperegrini.nl – De Kaarten van Gisèle € 16,95 excl. porto kosten

Het Kunsttarot – De Kaarten van Gisèle wordt in een beperkte oplage geproduceerd.

Het Kunsttarot – De Kaarten van Gisèle in de media:

 

Critically Committed Pedagogies – Amber Coomans

Critically Committed Pedagogies, #2

A recap of  a semi-public seminar

by Amber Coomans

March the 10th is a vibrant day in Castrum Peregrini. Together with Dr. Esther Peeren, (University of Amsterdam, ASCA and Amsterdam Centre for Globalisation Studies), Professor Peter Kraftl (University of Birmingham), Jack Halberstam (Professor of Gender Studies and English at Columbia University) and the moderators Renee Turner and Frans-Willem Korsten, the students of the Piet Zwart Institute and many other guests immerse themselves in “critically committed pedagogies.” Although the word critical may sound as a cliché, Frans-Willem Korstens states, together with the word committed, it’s exactly what this seminar is about.

Esther Peeren

The seminar begins with Dr. Esther Peeren talking about where we teach and how the spaces in which we teach influence learning. She’s inspired by philosopher Michail Bachtin and his so-called chronotopes: intrinsic connectedness of temporal and spatial relationships that are artistically exposed in literature. There is the chronotope of the adventure novel, in which the main character always forgets the things he has learned in the previous episodes and is constantly surprised by everything. In this world learning is not possible. Another example is the chronotope of the Road, in which meeting new people from different backgrounds is central. Bachtin states that these chronotopes also exist in the real world.

The chronotope of the Salon is the place where dialogues can happen and where there is a more dialogic and interactive atmosphere. Perhaps this is an example of what a classroom should look like?

What does it mean to have this seminar at Castrum Peregrini? You could see the former WWII hiding place as a learning space for the hiders. They continued learning by writing and discussing, as in the chronotope of the Salon.

The discussion then turns to the VOC-room in the University of Amsterdam where the faculty of Humanities is now seated. How does the history of this place influence the learning processes that characterize this place? And what does it mean that this hasn’t really been discussed? Our heritage from WWII seems to be allowed to haunt us, as shown by the popularity of the Anne Frank house, but our colonial history isn’t. Why is this the case? Peeren concludes with Bachtin, who explained that learning is an internal conflict: It’s going to be difficult! That internal conflict, or internal dialogue is not ignored at Castrum Peregrini. It is a learning space and thinking space where attention is paid to time and space. If more learning places such as universities would pay more attention to time and space, we would achieve different ways of learning, resulting in more inclusion.

To end with a clever statement from one of the students: It’s not about what the space does to you, it’s who you become because of the space that matters.

Peter Kraftl

The second talk of the day is given by professor Peter Kraftl. He talks about his research on geographies of alternative education, and alternative childhoods in the UK, which is fuelled by his interest in space and place, being a geographer.

Alternative childhoods question standard ways of testing and the way children’s bodies are treated in schools. They create spatial ways of learning. Examples are the so-called forest-schools in Denmark, where the pupils are largely being taught outside in nature, the Kilquhanity Democratic school in Scotland, where teachers and pupils come together every week to discuss what will happen next week in a completely democratic way, and the Findhorn Foundation in Scotland which is more spiritual. What was striking in his research is the fact that teachers in alternative schools speak about love so often. Love as a completely non-sexual, non-romantic emotion. In mainstream society these senses of love are touched upon, but not as frequent. One of Kraftl’s respondents states that we need to see something like love as something bigger than just between two people: love as a responsibility. Kraftl concludes that we need to see alternative childhoods as autonomous, rather than seeing them as alternative. They are autonomous because most of the time they are independent and more outward-looking. They are distinct, but not divorced from the mainstream!

Another point of discussion in the room revolves around the issues of class and inequality in relation to alternative childhoods. It really depends on the places you go to, states Kraftl, because there is a huge diversity within alternative childhoods. It is an important topic.

Jack Halberstam responds to Kraftl’s talk by saying that love being defined as opposed to sexuality is nonsense and impossible. Kraftl agrees that it is indeed problematic to separate love and sex (and jokingly suggested perhaps a very British thing to do.)

A student presses the question whether it’s ethical to homeschool a child. Isn’t it a form of child abuse? Maybe it is, but maybe it’s abuse to put children in a learning environment with only people of the same age. A complicated but interesting subject with much to discuss about.

Jack Halberstam

The seminar ends with Jack Halberstam talking about frightful leaps into darkness based on Auto-Destructive Art. In Halberstam’s own words: from talks about utopian projects we now dive into total destruction at the end of the day.

‘Art without a safety net’ is what Halberstam speaks about, in combination with why we might use queer theory to think differently about death. Why? We’re living in a world where life expectancy has been greatly increased. Also, technological investment happens so fast that we will reach the moment where we will have transcendent the physical condition of death. At least, this is what the trans humanists want us to believe. In a way, Halberstam states, we already are at that point because of IVF. People that normally wouldn’t be able to reproduce are able to now. You can see humanity move towards destruction and we have to think about reproduction and death differently. Auto destructive artists, like Gustav Metzker who lived in Amsterdam for a while in the 70s, aim to think about these subjects in a different way. Metzker has tried to shatter the sentimental investment in WWII, by making clear that the genocide continues and could easily happen again.

Halberstam ends with the following: let’s see if this archive of auto destructive art can give us a set of tools to think differently about embodiment, life, death, risk, safety, art, creativity, and violence. Is there anything within this archive that we can use for the current set of disasters that threaten us?

The contribution of Jack Halberstam was also broadcasted on Castrum Peregrini Facebook Live Feed, Friday 10th March.

As part of the project The Warp and Weft of Memory artist and writer Renée Turner took the initiative for a number of Critically Committed Pedagogies in the House of Gisèle on 20 January and 10 March 2017. The Warp and Weft of Memory is a research project by Renée Turner, which will result in an online narrative exploring the contents of Gisèle d’Ailly van Waterschoot van der Gracht’s wardrobe, and the ways in which it reflects her life, work, and larger histories through textiles and clothing. The Warp and Weft of Memory is made possible by the generous support of Mondriaan Fund

Amber Coomans studies heritage at Reinwardt Academie Amsterdam, and a minor Philosophy, Worl religions and Spirituatlity at HKU Utrecht. Amber joins team Castrum Peregrini on a voluntary basis.

 

Critically Committed Pedagogies, #2

Seminar

Critically Committed Pedagogies

Friday March 10th from 10:00 – 17:00

with contributions by:

Professor Peter Kraftl, chair in Human Geography College Director of Internationalisation at the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Birmingham.

Dr. Esther Peeren is Associate Professor of Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam, Vice-Director of the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA) and Vice-Director of the Amsterdam Centre for Globalisation Studies (ACGS).

Jack Halberstam is Professor of Gender Studies and English at Columbia University. Halberstam is the author of five books: Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters (Duke UP, 1995), Female Masculinity (Duke UP, 1998), In A Queer Time and Place (NYU Press, 2005), The Queer Art of Failure (Duke UP, 2011) and Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal (Beacon Press, 2012)

Moderated by Renee Turner and Frans-Willem Korsten 

Working from the unique place and the history of Castrum Peregrini, the Master Education in Arts programme of the Piet Zwart Institute and Castrum Peregrini, will host this semi-public seminar. Examining unexpected sites and paradigms of learning, the aim is to plot spaces for maneuverability, if not resistance or possibilities for imagining and acting otherwise.

As this is a working seminar with limited space to facilitate discussion, reservation is required. This event is FULLY booked >> If you wish to reserve a place on the waiting list, please do so before Monday, March 6th. Send your request to: Susana Pedrosa Email s.m.de.melo.pato.pedrosa.de.jesus@hr.nl

Emerging hiStories 2017

Exhibition
Emerging HiStories 

Opening 27 January 2017, 17 hrs
On show until 10 March 2017
Open Tuesday – Friday, 12-18 hrs

The tradition of survival; stories and objects of refugees. Composed by Özkan Gölpinar and Nadette de Visser.

radio-1A collection of 20 symbolic objects and stories about flight, ordeal and growth. Through the stories and objects, collected at the Turkish-Syrian border, in the Netherlands and in Germany, ‘we’ connect with ‘the other’. Emerging [Hi]Stories tells the story about the condition humain of being a refugee. Placed in the studio of Gisèle, these objects and stories create a dialogue with the history of Castrum Peregrini.  Read more.

Home and Belonging

Round Table Conversation
Home and Belonging

Tuesday 28 February 2017, 20.00 hrs

Havaintokuva_PulkkinenWhile the ongoing war in Syria has caused millions of people to be displaced rendering them homeless, questions of identity and home have become acutely topical. Castrum Peregrini and the Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux are organizing a discussion event on the topic of “Home and Belonging”, investigating mobility of people and belongings.

Anssi Pulkkinen will open the discussion by presenting his new art work Street View (Reassembled), see picture. Pulkkinen, born 1982, is a visual artist living and working in Helsinki. Umayya Abu-Hanna an Amsterdam-based journalist and writer with palestinian roots, , Annukka Vähäsöyrinki is the Head of Programme at the Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux, and is currently producing the Mobile Home(less) project. She will discuss the process of the formation of value anMobile Homelessd function, but also the utopias and realities of human migration.Rana (A.J) Noman, Yemen, writer, social researcher. Rana is also represented in the exhibition Emerging hiStories with an object and a story.  Moderation: Özkan Gölpinar publicist and a member of the Dutch Cultural Council and co-curator of the exhibition Emerging hiStories.

Read more here.

Art As Resistance, #1 – by Leon Laskus

Art As Resistance,#1

Seminar on Saturday 4 February 2017

organized by Framer Framed, Humanity in Action and Castrum Peregrini

von: Leon Laskus

Am Samstag, den 04. Februar, startete erfolgreich der erste Teil der Symposiumsreihe „Art as Resistance, #1“ auf dem Intellectual Playground Castrum Peregrini in Zusammenarbeit mit Framer Framed und Humanity in Action.

Der Tag begann mit einem Grundsatzreferat der New Yorker Künstlerin Adeola Enigbokan, heute Professorin an der Universität von Amsterdam. Darauf folgten drei Workshops der Künstler Maria Guggenbichler, Charl Landvreugd und Patricia Kaersenhout zu kulturellen Identitäten, das kollektive Gedächtnis und über die Notwendigkeit Geschichte, wie sie präsentiert wird, zu hinterfragen.

Ich, seit einem halben Jahr Freiwilliger im Castrum Peregrini, nahm Teil am Workshop „Rewrite History“ von Patricia Kaersenhout. Nach dem die kulturelle Aktivistin und Performance Künstlerin ihre Ergebnisse ihrer bisherigen Werke präsentierte, war es die Aufgabe der Teilnehmer die Geschichte des Kolonialismus zu überarbeiten – in Sachbüchern oder als Collagen. Dabei sollten wir versuchen uns in eine Identität indigener Völker hineinzuverseIMG_3350tzen. Stift, Kleber und Messer waren dann unser Werkzeug die aus der zweiten Hälfte des letzten Jahrhunderts stammenden Bücher, welche zum Teil noch Rassenlehre beinhalteten, zu befreien.

Es war eine Art von kollektiver Kunst. Zuvor hatten Menschen mit diesen Büchern gearbeitet und mit deren Bildmaterial Collagen gestaltet. Patricia gab uns den Hinweis auf Affinität: Wir würden feststellen, dass wir mit jenen verbunden seien, die zuvor in dieser Weise an diesen Büchern arbeiteten. Und, es stimmte: ehe ich die übermalten, entfernten und ausradierten christlichen Symbole bemerkte, die im Geschichtsbuch nahezu überall verteilt waren, hatte ich schon begonnen die Kirchen aus den Bildern herauszuschneiden.

Nach dem Abschluss unserer Werke und das Auffassen von dem, was bereits andere vor mir im Buch getan haben, wurde es mir wieder deutlich, dass Geschichte sehr unterschiedlich präsentiert werden kann. Durch die neu gestalteten Bücher, wie auch Texte, ergab sich ein neuer Sinn der Zusammenhänge des Vergangenem. Aus der Sicht von vielen „Indianern“ also, würde beispielsweise eher „the Devil“ über den Köpfen der Kolonialherren stehen, als der Name mit sämtlichen prunkvollen adligen und militärischen Titeln.

Es zeigte sich mir, dass Kunst ein wunderbares Instrument sein kann, um aus einem Mainstream Geschichtsbild auszubrechen und durch so entstehende kritische Betrachtung des Mediums sein gewohntes Denkmuster der Geschichte zu ändern.

Leon Laskus volunteers during a year at Castrum Peregrini via Action Reconciliation Service for Peace ARSP a.k.a. ‘Aktion Sühnezeichen / Friedensdienste’. After finishing his school ‘Abitur’ in Berlin, he applied for a country and an organisation.  Every year around 180 volunteers, mostly aged between nineteen and twenty five are active for ARSP in thirteen different countries on a variety of educational, historical, political and social projects. For over 50 years ARSP has been committed to working toward reconciliation and peace, as well as fighting racism, discrimination and social exclusion. read more about ARSP

Conflicting Memories: Ukraine

Round Table Conversation
Conflicting Memories: Ukraine
A political crisis from a cultural perspective, part 2

due to circumstances: 16 February 2017 was POSTPONED >> a NEW date will be announced soon 

Language: English
Price: 7,50 euro, reduced fee 5 euro
RSVP at productie@castrumperegrini.nl

A collaboration between Castrum Peregrini and the European Cultural Foundation

Participants: Ivan Krastev, Centre for Liberal Strategies, Sofia, Vasyl Cherepanyn, Visual Culture Research Centre, Kyiv and laureate of the ECF Princess Margriet Award (2015) and Fleur de Weerd, journalist and former correspondent in Ukraine.

The participants will each give a short contribution on their view of the current conflict from the perspective of collective memory, followed by a panel discussion including the public moderated by Katherine Watson, director ECF.

Read more here.

and / or here

Art As Resistance, #1

Seminar
Art as Resistance, #1

Saturday 4 February, 11 – 17 hrs

Framer Framed, Humanity in Action and Castrum Peregrini are joining forces for a three part symposium series Art as Resistance. Our first edition starts with a key note lecture by artist & urbanist Dr. Adeola Enigbokan. Her manifesto:

ART & AFFINITY

In the wake of recent world events, art should help us to modify the groups or classes into which we organize ourselves. Art could also help us transform our thinking around where, and to whom, we belong. Art should create experiences that challenge us, forcing us to ask:

who are our “natural” companions?
who is our “true” family?
where do our obligations lie?
what are the stories we insist on telling ourselves about our “family,” our “nation,” and how can we leave these stories behind and tell new stories?

Art should constantly form and re-form us into associations along affinities we could not have imagined on our own.

After the keynote speech by Adeola Enigbokan after the lunch three interactive parallel workshops given by Maria Guggenbichler, Charl Landvreugd and Patricia Kaersenhout.

Programme

Patricia Kaersenhout

Patricia Kaersenhout

11.00-11.30 Doors open, coffee/tea and registration workshops
11.30-11.35 Welcome
11.35-12.20 Keynote by Adeola Enigbokan

12.20-13.00 Discussion/Q & A
13.00-14.00 Lunch
14.00-16.00 Parallel Workshops
16.00-16.20 Plenary wrap up
16.20-17.00 Drinks

See our Facebook Event for more information. Please make sure to book your Ticket(s) now.

Seminar on Critical Pedagogies

Seminarcritical pedagogies

Critical Pedagogies

Friday 20 January 2017

Friday 10 March 2017

From January through March 2017, Castrum Peregrini will host the Master Education in Arts students from the Piet Zwart Institute. The group will be meeting regularly in both Rotterdam and Amsterdam for a seminar on critical pedagogies.

Co-taught by Prof. Frans-Willem Korsten (The University of Leiden) and artist, Renee Turner, the seminar looks at critical pedagogies in the plural, meaning a range of educational theories with one common denominator, the term ‘critical’, which refers to the ability to analyze the social, cultural, pedagogical and institutional processes that are inherent to every form of education.

The seminar will also include a semi-public event on March 10th with guest speakers: Peter Kraftl (Chair in Human Geography at the University of Leicester), Esther Peeren (Associate Professor of Globalisation Studies at the Media Studies Department at the University of Amsterdam) and Jack Halberstam (Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity, Gender Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Southern California).

 

If interested please send us an email: mail@castrumperegrini.nl

More information on the event and registration will follow.

Home and Belonging

Roundtable Discussion
Home and Belonging

28 February 2017, 20.00 hrs

Mathhew Wiebe Unsplash photo-1423958290593-a8eff6d8e583While the ongoing war in Syria has caused millions of people to be displaced rendering them homeless, questions of identity and home have become acutely topical. Castrum Peregrini and the Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux are organizing a discussion event on the topic of “Home and Belonging”, investigating mobility of people and belongings. The panel of speakers will discuss the process of the formation of value and function, but also the utopias and realities of human migration.

Havaintokuva_PulkkinenThe discussion event is part of the Finnish Cultural Institute’s artistic project Mobile Home(less). The institute has commissioned a new artwork, Street View (Reassembled), from Finnish sculptor Anssi Pulkkinen.  The art work is dealing with present day homelessness, and takes as its starting point ruins of a destroyed Syrian home, to create an installation that brings a caravan-like, mobile, temporary street view into an urban European city space. The work brings homelessness from behind news images into our everyday reality. The artist will be present at the event.

Castrum Peregrini’s exhibition Emerging [Hi]-Stories also looks at the symbolic value of material and objects as they move from one place to another. The exhibition (open 27.1.-10.3, Tue-Fri, 12-18 hrs) shows objects chosen of refugees to take with them on their journey and the stories they tell.

 

SPEAKERS

Umayya Abu-Hanna is an Amsterdam-based journalist and writer. Originally from Palestine, Abu-Hanna spent many years living and working in Finland prior to her re-location to the Netherlands. She has worked at the Finnish Broadcasting Company, Yle, as a columnist for the Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat, as a multi-cultural expert at the for the Finnish National Gallery and a board member of the Finnish Central Art Council. At the moment she works as an adviser in Pakhuis de Zwijger, a cultural organisation in Amsterdam.

Özkan Gölpinar is publicist and a member of the Dutch Cultural Council. The Cultural council is the legal advisory organ of the Dutch government on the arts, culture and media. He was attached to the Leiden University Center for the Arts in Society on the research program Contemporary Art Beyond Boundaries. As program maker he was attached to the Mondriaan Foundation and the Foundation for The Arts, Design and Architecture (BKVB).  He has 20 years’ experience as reporter with:  Volkskrant, Trouw etc. Gölpinar has written several books, essays, theatre plays, and documentaries.

Aleksi Malmberg is the director of the Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux. Amongst other things, he has worked as the programme manager for the Helsinki Festival, the largest cross-disciplinary art festival in the Nordic countries, the managing director for publishing house Tactus, as well as the executive director for Our Festival. The common thread of his manifold professional history has been the relationship of influence between art and society, and he has, for example, edited the history of Kulttuuritalo, a concert venue in Helsinki that has functioned at the collision point of politics and culture.

 

Partners

Castrum Peregrini, ‘the fortress of the pilgrim’, is the nom de guerre of a WWII safehouse in the city centre of Amsterdam. Driven by her beliefs of art and friendship artist Gisèle van Waterschoot van der Gracht (1912 – 2013) helped young intellectuals and artists survive the war by offering them refuge in her house. Many parts of this canal house remain unchanged, making its history palpable. The human values of the House of Gisèle have grown and deepened in post-war years. On this background, Castrum Peregrini has developed into a lively house which organizes debates, publications and exhibitions.

The Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux is an independent, non-profit cultural organisation located in Brussels. As part of the network of Finnish Cultural and Academic Institutes abroad, it serves as a liaison between stakeholders in the field of culture from Finland and the Benelux countries. The Institute is an expert organisation which offers artists and organisations opportunities to create discussion, new projects and new possibilities of collaboration.

Conflicting Memories: Ukraine

 Round Table Conversation

Conflicting Memories: Ukraine
A political crisis from a cultural perspective, part 2

16 February 2016, 20.00 hrs12-debat by Pip Erken

Language: English
Price: 7,50 euro, reduced fee 5 euro
RSVP at productie@castrumperegrini.nl

A collaboration between Castrum Peregrini and the European Cultural Foundation

 

Participants: Ivan Krastev, Centre for Liberal Strategies, Sofia, Vasyl Cherepanyn, Visua10-debat by Pip Erkenl Culture Research Centre, Kyiv and 2015 laureate of the ECF Princess Margriet Award and Fleur de Weerd, journalist and former correspondent in Ukraine.

The participants will each give a short contribution on their view of the current conflict from the perspective of collective memory, followed by a panel discussion including the public moderated by Katherine Watson, director ECF.

The conflict in Ukraine is often seen in a global perspective: geopolitical spheres seem to compete again, often with reference to cold war rhetoric.
On the ground the conflict has another dimension: clashing collective memories resulting in seemingly different cultural identities. Panellists will try to deconstruct cultural reference points that form the basis of the conflict and talk about what would be needed to construct new, inclusive narratives.

The evening follows up a similar discussion one-and-a-half years ago, when the images of the Maidan clashes where still fresh in mind. What has happened since, what is the perspective for Ukrainian identity internally and internationally at the moment?

On the participants:

Ivan Krastev is the Chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies in Sofia, and permanent fellow at the IWM Institute of Human Sciences in Vienna. He is a founding board member of the European Council on Foreign Relations, e.a. He was ranked in the 2008 Top 100 Public Intellectuals Foreign Policy/Prospect List. Since 2004, he has been the executive director of the International Commission on the Balkans chaired by the former Italian Prime Minister Giuliano Amato.

Vasyl Cherepanyn is director of the Visual Culture Research Center (Kiev), works as a senior lecturer at the Cultural Studies Department of the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, and is an editor of Political Critique magazine. Cherepanyn holds a Ph.D. in philosophy (specialisation – aesthetics). He has also worked as a guest lecturer at the Institute for Advanced Studies of the Political Critique in Warsaw, Poland and the Krupp Wissenschaftskolleg Greifswald of the Greifswald University, Germany.

Fleur de Weerd is a historian, and independent journalist, who has written extensively about Germany and the former Soviet Union for various newspapers in the Netherlands and Belgium. She was the official correspondent for Dutch daily Trouw in Ukraine during the Euro-Cup Soccer championship and has visited the country often in 2014. Her book Het land dat maar niet wil lukken was awarded the prestigious Bob den Uyl-prijs for best literary travelogue. It recounts various diverse and complex (hi)stories of Ukraine and its inhabitants.

see also at the European Cultural Foundation

share our invitation: Conflicting_Memories_Ukraine_ECF and CP_16Feb2017

 

Important Souvnirs

Exhibition

Amie Dicke: Important Souvnirs

castrum_24On show until 23 december 2016 during guided Visits House of Gisèle and during events.
Important Souvnirs is also part of Amsterdam Art Weekend 24-27 November

Since 2009 Amie Dicke is attracted to the house of Castrum Peregrini, its interiors and its stories. She has made work related to the place, in situ or conceptually. Her artistic interventions have challenged the development of the place. Simultaneously the place had a significant impact on the artistic development and the works of Dicke. Starting off with bold statements like the work Claustrophobic (2009) her perspective and approach has changed from that of an intervenor towards that of an observer, reading traces, isolating images from their contexts and therefore challenging our perspectives. Since 2014 Dicke has put her focus on the private apartments and the studio of Castrum Peregrini founder, the artist Gisèle van Waterschoot van der Gracht (1912 – 2013). Dickes research fed into important-souvnirs.com named after a brief note by Gisèle: ‘do not touch I am sorting Important Souvnirs’ During the whole autumn season – in conjunction with other events – Castrum Peregrini will show work of Dicke within the historic contexts that are challenged by the work.

During Amsterdam Art Weekend, on Friday 25, Saturday 26 & Sunday 27 November from 14.00 – 15.00 hrs Amie Dicke will illustrate her approach in situ, from the historic material in the House of Gisèle to the outcomes presented in the studio of Gisèle.  Upon resservation only through mail(at)castrumperegrini.nl. Price: 10 euro per person in groups of 12 persons max. See http://weekend.amsterdamart.com/event/important-souvnirs-amie-dicke

screening ‘Herengracht 401’

Film Screening

‘Herengracht 401’ poster

Tuesday 20 December, 20 hrs

A documentary about the fascinating house of ‘Castrum Peregrini’ and a document that shows from different perspectives how the memory of the house is captivated and owned. ‘Herengracht 401’ had its première at the Dutch Film Festival in Utrecht last September 2016. And will make a tour in the art house cinemas in the Netherlands and abroad. A film by Janina Pigaht. With aftwards a talk moderated by Rosemarie Buikema, professor Gender studies University of Utrecht. 

Tuesday 20 December entrance: € 7,50, reduced € 5,-

RSVP: mail@castrumperegrini.nl

Residencies supported by Mondriaan Fund

2017 artists in the residence at Castrum Peregrini supported by the Mondriaan Fund

 

March & April 2017: Pieter Paul Pothoven 

pothoven_castrum_peregrini_2017

The work of Pieter Paul Pothoven (1981, NL) comprises sculpture, installation, and includes different forms of writing as well. In his projects, he searches for alternative ways of engaging with the past through study of historical sites, artifacts and resources, in ord

logo-downloads-en-web-rood

er to mediate new relationships with history often based on their potential use-value in the present. During a 2-month residency at Castrum Peregrini, he will continue to study socialist resistance before, during and after the Second World War in Amsterdam. Central to his project is a comparative study of three groups that organized their actions in radically different times but share similar motives.

pothoven_castrum_peregrini_2017Pieter Paul Pothoven received his BFA at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam (NL) and his MFA at Parsons The New School of Design, New York. He was a resident at Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown (US), Van Eyck Academie, Maastricht (NL) and Instituto Sacatar, Salvador (BR). His work has been shown in various solo and group exhibitions. Recent exhibitions include: ‘You talkin’ to me?’, Barbara Seiler, Zürich (CH); ‘Sunsets never looked as stunning as through the haze of factory sooth’, Van Eyck Acadamie, Maastricht (NL); ‘Territorial Drift’, Garage, Rotterdam (NL); ‘Listen to the Stones, think like a mountain’, Tatjana Pieters, Ghent (BE); ‘Lapis Lazuli from Serr-i-Sang’, PuntWG, Amsterdam (NL); ‘11:59, on a date of no particular significance’, Hudson D. Walker gallery, Provincetown (US); ‘The intelligence of Things’, The Kitchen, New York (US). He initiated and co-curated ‘Weight of Colour’, a symposium about the materiality of color, Amsterdam (NL) and the group exhibition ‘I scarcely have the right to use this ghostly verb’, New York, (US). His texts have been published in amongst others: Anamesa Journal, Simulacrum, Volume, De Gids and Beyroutes, an Alternative Guide to Beirut. Currently he lives and works in Amsterdam. pieterpaulpothoven.com

 

October & November 2017: Aimée Zito Lema
Rond de Jambe, video still, 2015

Rond de Jambe, video still, 2015

Expanding an insignificant event, isolating a sudden movement, choosing an affective gesture and zeroing in on it until we lose ourselves in the sounds it emits, the grain of the photo or the word that names it, furnishes us with a chance to reinterpret the events as they are presented to us, and of understanding history from new perspectives.

The Subversive Body, 2016 / Installationview @ Wilfried Lentz Rotterdam/ Photo: Sander van Wettum

The Subversive Body, 2016 / Installationview @ Wilfried Lentz Rotterdam/ Photo: Sander van Wettum

Aimée Zito Lema grounds her practice in this premise. Based on a process of selection and appropriation, Zito Lema zooms in on the detail of gestures, often by using archive images taken of working class demonstrations or counter-cultural movements. This motif, once enlarged almost to the point of abstraction, brings to mind the mechanism that enables cooperation and development within a community, or a movement, or an affective structure than bonds a group or a family. It is revealed to us in her work, just as a tiny detail can give rise to a community spirit and all that this brings with it. Her artistic practice structures the narrative around the process, triggering a dynamic that, taken together, lends meaning to the work. The idea leads to an expression, act or performance. This work in turn gives rise to the object that, inasmuch as a metaphor, returns us to the expression from which it came, only to be recycled and give birth to new possibilities.*

For her residency at Castrum Peregrini Zito Lema will focus on the role of friendship within adverse social-political circumstances.  She will research different notions of friendship in political contexts, taking as starting point the history of the house of Gisele van Waterschoot. Looking at past and present, searching for traces of these notions of friendship, understood as solidarity and support structure.

Portrait Aimée: Photo by Hugo Tillman

Portrait Aimée: Photo by Hugo Tillman

Visual artist Aimée Zito Lema (born in Amsterdam, 1982, grew up in Buenos Aires) studied at the University of the Arts, Buenos Aires, the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam, and followed the Master Artistic Research program of the Royal Academy in The Hague (2009 – 2011). She was artist-in-resident at the Rijksakademie (2015-2016). Her recent exhibitions include: The 11th Gwangju Biennale; The Dorothea von Stetten Award, Kunstmuseum Bonn; Hors Pistes: L’art de la Revolte, Centre Pompidou Paris (all in 2016); the long-term project Body at Work at Casco, Utrecht (2013 – 2014); and the residency ‘Het Vijfde Seizoen’, Den Dolder, (2011).

Emerging [Hi]-Stories

Logo+raster_600_rgb_72dpiDe overlevering van overleven; verhalen en objecten van vluchtelingen. Samengesteld door Özkan Golpinar en Nadette de Visser.

Vernissage, 27 januari 2017, 17 uur
Te zien tot 10 maart 2017
O
pen dinsdag t/m vrijdag 12-18 uur

Een verzameling van twintig symbolische objecten en verhalen over vlucht, beproeving en groei. Via de verhalen en voorwerpen, verzamelt aan de Turks-Syrische grens, in Nederland en in Duitsland, worden ‘wij’ met ‘de ander’ verbonden. Emerging [Hi]Stories vertelt over over de menselijke conditie van het vluchtelingschap.

Door voorwerpen, verhalen en installaties op verschillende plekken in het Atelier van Gisele, wordt de menselijke conditie van dat vluchtelingschap uitgebeeld. Deze vertolkingen gaan een dialoog aan met de geschiedenis van Castrum Peregrini. Soms worden objecten getoond als kostbaar artifact, op een pilaar in een display case, dan weer uitvergroot afgedrukt op plexiglas of doek, altijd vergezelt door het voorwerp en het verhaal waaraan zij hun betekenis ontleenden. Vluchtelingen zelf leiden bezoekers langs hun verhalen.

De geschiedenis van de mens is er een van mobiliteit. Terwijl het Westen grote stromen mensen uit het Zuiden en Oosten ziet, tekent zich een schisma af. Een onzichtbare scheiding die de wereld in ‘wij’ en ‘hun’ verdeelt.

Daar wordt communiceren en verbinden moeizaam. Politici zetten hekken neer en wedijveren voor muren. Als men een muur bouwt, sluit men dan de ander buiten, of sluit men zichzelf in? Deze selectie persoonlijke verhalen en voorwerpen wil gaten maken in de onzichtbare hekken van de geest. Lees je iemands verhaal, dan kun je de ‘ander’ worden, als een karakter in een roman. Dit is een zoektocht naar een universele werkelijkheid.

radio-1Nasser Fakhteh vertelt ons zijn verhaal. Hij zat gevangen in Iran, eerst onder de Sjah, later onder de Ayatollah’s. Zijn vader kocht een radio met wereldontvangst toen hij, op 17 jarige leeftijd, voor het eerst werd opgepakt.

“Ik kon met vrijwel niemand meer communiceren terwijl hij een deur naar de wereld vond, onzichtbaar, over de radiogolven. (..) De gevangenis van de Sjah waarin ik zat is nu een museum. (..)Op twee eindeloze bakstenen muren zijn plaatjes bevestigd met de namen van alle voormalige gevangen. In grote letters daarboven staat: ‘De muren spreken’(..)Maar die andere gevangenis, die van de Ayatollahs waar ik met heel veel van hen daarna in terecht kwam, daar hebben ze het niet over.”

Zie ook www.emerginghistories.com

Workshop Dirt, Punk, Trash UvA

Workshop

Dirt, Punk, Trash

Thursday 1 December 2016, 14 hrs

‘Dirt, Punk, Trash’ is a workshop where art/cultural theoreticians and practitioners theorize the notions — which are now often employed interchangeably — in two ways. They discuss concrete punk-, dirt- and trash-focused cultural practices and objects; and they map and unravel conceptual interrelations between the notions. Speakers are dirt/punk/trash experts Gluklya (Factory of Found Clothes, St. Petersburg / A’dam), Caleb Kelly (University of New South Wales), Natalia Samutina (Higher School of Economics, Moscow), Yngvar Steinholt (Tromso University). punk-dirt-trash-worksop-dec-2016

The workshop is introduced and moderated by the members of the VIDI Sublime Imperfections team Fabienne Rachmadiev, Jakko Kemper, and Ellen Rutten (all UvA). Click here for more information and abstracts Guests are welcome; for questions, registration and more information please contact Omar Elgendy OmarElgendy@live.nl

Le musée imaginaire by Jean-Hubert Martin

Lecture

Le musée imaginaire

by Jean-Hubert Martin 

25 November, 08:30 – 10 uur

  • this lecture is sold out

amsterdam-art-weekendDeze lezing is georganiseerd door Frans Hals Museum | De Hallen Haarlem, Oude Kerk, Museum van Loon en Castrum Peregrini in samenwerking met Amsterdam Art. Het ’transhistorische’ – het verbinden van heden en verleden – is voor elk van deze instellingen is een belangrijk onderwerp. Ze beogen erfgoed te verbinden aan hedendaagse kunst en sociale kwesties, bevragen traditionele kunsthistorische categorisering en ontwikkelen nieuwe inzichten hoe (kunst)objecten betekenis krijgen los van hun oorspronkelijke context.

Jean-Hubert Martin geeft tijdens het Amsterdam Art Weekend 2016 een lezing over ‘transhistorical curating’ in de Oude Kerk. Martin is een van ‘s werelds meest toonaangevende curatoren. In zijn loopbaan als onder meer directeur van Museum Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf en curator van de legendarische tentoonstelling ‘Magiciens de la Terre’ (1989) heeft hij bijgedragen aan de verbreding van het begrip hedendaagse kunst.

Tijdens ‘On Transhistorical Curating’ zal Martin zijn transculturele en transhistorisch tentoonstellingspraktijk toelichten, met de nadruk op zijn meest recente tentoonstelling, Carambolages (2 maart tot 4 juli 2016, Grand Palais, Parijs).

location and tickets at: Oude Kerk. €10 (incl. koffie & croissant)  Vrije entree met Museumkaart, ICOM card, stadspas, I Amsterdam Card
Beperkt aantal plaatsen – this lecture is sold out!

Imagine IC & Castrum Peregrini N8 2016

Museumnacht 2016

Roti Rollen & Bitterballen

5 November, 19-02 uur

Grootse dromen, geringe kansen. Castrum Peregrini en Imagine IC kijken dit jaar tijdens de Museumnacht samen naar overeenkomsten tussen onderduikers in WOII en jonge migranten net in Nederland aangekomen. Hoewel er driekwart eeuw tussen zit, vertellen de paralellen een universeel verhaal over de mensheid, niet tijdsgebonden en vrij van culturele en etnische verschillen. ‘Selfies as Footprints’ en ‘Remnants of a lost world’. Leer van het verleden en neem het mee voor nu.

selfies-as-footprints-n8-2016

Ook de bar is zat 5 nov. een hotline van Amsterdam Zuidoost waar Imagine IC is gevestigd naar de Herengracht in het centrum; met Roti Rollen & Bitterballen, Wodka/Red Bull, Hernandez & Gin Tonic.

Met live optredens van de band ‘Burning Down the House’

Kaarten en meer info via www.n8.nl

Film ‘Herengracht 401’

Film 

Herengracht 401

Herengracht 401A film by Janina Pigaht
Première Saturday 24 September, extra screening on Thursday 29 September at Nederlands Film Festival 2016 Utrecht
Screening dates at Castrum Peregrini and other partners to be announced soon.

Tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog was het statige grachtenpand aan de Herengracht 401 een onderduikadres. Na de oorlog vormden de onderduikjaren de basis voor een hechte leefgemeenschap, die door de bewoners Castrum Peregrini werd gedoopt. 2013 is de oprichtster en patrones, Gisèle d’Ailly van Waterschoot van der Gracht, overleden. Nu is het de taak van de huidige bewoners -Michaël, Frans en Lars- om het huis een nieuwe bestemming te geven. Terwijl zij opruimen en verbouwen om het huis open te kunnen stellen voor publiek, begint regisseur Janina Pigaht te graven in het verleden. Ze wil het verhaal van het huis vastleggen. Maar is er eigenlijk wel een eenduidig verhaal te vertellen?

ENDS MEET – Marijn Bax

Exhibition

Marijn Bax: Ends Meet.

Unseen beeld Marijn Bax

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Vernissage
Friday 16 September, 16 hrs by Stijn Huijts, artistic director Bonnefanten Museum Maastricht
16 – 25 September 2016
Open daily 12 – 18 hrs
Ends Meet is part of unseen photo festival 
Lecture: Thursday 22 September, 20 hrs ‘RUIMTE, bron voor GELIJKTIJDIGHEID’ by Fons Elders, philosopher


For Ends Meet, Marijn Bax has investigated the archive and studio of the artist Gisèle van Waterschoot van de Gracht. Gisèle’s note “Where is the frontier of like and love?” formed the basis for her new work which will be exhibited by Castrum Peregrini in Gisèle’s former studio.

Marijn Bax’ work and aspiration is driven by a deep interest in the human psyche and how humans relate to their physical and mental environment. Based on personal stories she addresses universal themes and creates opportunities to question our own behaviour and how our perception is continuously influenced.

Photography is her stepping stone towards a variety of media and materials such as video, audio, writing, 3D installations and public opinion, to reflect upon this invisible and complex matter.

Marijn Bax (1981) graduate from the Academy of Art and Graphics – Sint Joost, Breda, NL. Site-specific installations based on historical stories are her main focus. In  2015 she received the Talent Development Grant from the Mondriaan Fund for emerging artists.

On Saturday 17, Sunday 18 and Sunday 25 september, between 14 – 17 hrs the artist will be present in a ‘dialogue with the audience without words’. For additional programme see our Facebook page.

Call for volunteers!

IMG_3352Are you interested in contemporary culture combining a heroic past with pressing social issues? Would you like to support a non-profit arts organization with a long and unique history?

Castrum Peregrini is looking for volunteers:

Host in the exhibition space: As part of the on-going public program Memory Machine Castrum Peregrini organizes exhibitions in collaboration with cultural producers, taking place in the old studio of founder Gisèle van Waterschoot van der Gracht.

Bartender: Castrum Peregrini regularly organizes lectures, debates, performances and movie screenings that target a broad audience, including creative producers, artists, students, teachers and academics. Afterwards visitors meet in the bar.

Tour guide: Castrum Peregrini offers guided tours of the historic house, visiting the authentic hiding floor and studio of Gisèle van Waterschoot van der Gracht is. As a guide you tell the story of Gisèle and the history of Castrum Peregrini to groups of up to 12 people who sign up in advance.

Exhibitions are open from Monday to Friday, from 12:00 – 18:00.
Events take place in the evening or during weekends.
Tours by appointment.

IMG_3485What we ask:

  • Proficiency in Dutch or in English
  • Available from 4 hours per week (host shifts are from 10:00 to 14:00 and from 14:00 to 18:00, bar shifts from 18:00 to 22:00)
  • A representative, friendly attitude to visitors
  • Willingness to learn more about the exhibitions
  • Dedication: the hosts, bar staff and tour guides keep the program running!

What we offer:

  • Invitation to all our openings and events (and free drinks during events)
  • Annual Festive event for all people involved
  • A chance to work together with the international network and team of Castrum Peregrini, and meet international artists and other professionals from the art and cultural world
  • Work at an inspiring place
  • Specifically during your shifts:
    • A place to read / study / work• Free drinks (coffee / tea / juice) and cookies

Enthusiastic? Please e-mail Judith, j.couvee@castrumperegrini.nl, for questions or to apply, including your motivation.

Castrum Peregrini zoekt vrijwilligers!

IMG_3352Ben je geïnteresseerd in een heroïsch verleden dat hedendaagse cultuur met acute maatschappelijke vraagstukken verbindt?

Wil je een non-profit kunstorganisatie met bewogen geschiedenis steunen?

We zoeken mensen voor verschillende taken:

  • Host in de expositieruimte: In het kader van het doorlopende publieksprogramma Memory Machine organiseert Castrum Peregrini in samenwerking met culturele producenten verschillende tentoonstellingen in het oude atelier van oprichter Gisèle van Waterschoot van der Gracht.
  • Barmedewerker: Castrum Peregrini organiseert regelmatig lezingen, debatten, performances en filmavonden die zich richten op een breed publiek, zoals creative producers, kunstenaars, studenten, docenten, academici en opiniemakers. Na afloop ontmoeten mensen elkaar in de barruimte.
  • Rondleider: Castrum Peregrini biedt rondleidingen aan in het historische huis, waarbij onder andere de authentieke onderduiketage en het atelier van Gisèle van Waterschoot van der Gracht te bezichtigen zijn. IMG_3485Als rondleider vertel je het verhaal van Gisèle en de geschiedenis van Castrum Peregrini aan groepjes van maximaal 12 mensen die zich van te voren aanmelden.
Tentoonstellingen zijn geopend van maandag t/m vrijdag van 12:00 – 18:00.
Evenementen vinden plaats in de avond of in het weekend.
Rondleidingen op afspraak.


Wat we van jou vragen

  • Vaardigheid in het Nederlands of in het Engels (beide is een pre)
  • Beschikbaarheid vanaf 4 uur per week (host shifts zijn van 10:00 – 14:00 en van 14:00 – 18:00, bar shifts van 18:00 – 22:00)
  • Een representatieve, vriendelijke houding ten opzichte van bezoekers
  • Bereidheid je te verdiepen in de tentoonstellingen
  • Toewijding: vrijwillig maar niet vrijblijvend, de hosts, barmedewerkers en rondleiders houden het programma draaiende!

Wat we je kunnen bieden

  • Een plek in een hecht team
  • Uitnodiging voor al onze openingen en evenementen (en gratis drankjes tijdens evenementen)
  • Jaarlijks feestelijke bijeenkomst voor alle betrokkenen
  • Een kans samen te werken met het internationale netwerk en het team van Castrum Peregrini en internationale kunstenaars en andere professionals uit de kunst- en cultuursector te ontmoeten
  • Werk op een inspirerende plek

Specifiek tijdens je shifts

  • Een plek om aan te lezen/studeren/werken
  • Gratis drinken (koffie/thee/fris) en iets lekkers
Enthousiast? Email Judith j.couvee@catsrumperegrini.nl om je aan te melden!

DSC08080IMG_4616

Exhibition Marijn Bax

Unseen beeld Marijn BaxWhere is the frontier of LIKE and LOVE?

16-30 September 2016
Open 12 – 18 uur, vrij toegang
part of Unseen Photo Fair

The work of Marijn Bax is often site-specific. Her new work Ends Meet is the second work she presents at Castrum Peregrini. For this work she did an investigation into the archive of Gisèle van Waterschoot van der Gracht, focussed on the question found on one of her own notes: Where is the frontier of LIKE and LOVE?.
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New 3Package Deal coalition: Transhistoricity

De Oude Kerk, Museum van Loon, Castrum Peregrini and De Reinwardt Academie make up the new coalition “Transhistoriciteit” supported within the framework of 3Package Deal. It wants to stimulate ‘creative producers’ to develop activities that connect and combine historic periods and cultural contexts.

RPThe coalition partners have selected Tel Aviv based artist Ronit Porat to live and work in Amsterdam for a year as of September 2016. Her studio will be based, in turn, at the host institutions.

Artist Ronit Porat writes about her art, “My engagement with times and places is not an external one, but applies a subjective circular motion that begins with the personal, shifts to the collective, and then returns to the self.” So then, according to Porat – who holds a MFA from the esteemed Chelsea College of Art and Design and who has exhibited her art in dozens of shows from Paris to Warsaw to Jerusalem to Albania and beyond – time and history are transcendent and the mistakes and victories of our histories reside with us now and here.

‘Untitled’ , 2012, The Kids who were shot, (The Marching Children, Alfred Alfred Eisenstaedt)

‘Untitled’ , 2012, The Kids who were shot, (The Marching Children, Alfred Alfred Eisenstaedt)

Her art clearly explores these concepts of subjectivity and transcendence and connectedness, and her primary tools are juxtaposition, overlay, and mixed media. Using these tools among many, she shows us that time and history are not just one thing, but they are cobbled together to forge a collective memory that colors the way we see the world: on top of an image of an unidentified boy, she scribbles a Hitler mustache; she juxtaposes a nose-diving war plane with a nose-diving woman dressed in a short white garment; she tears in half a self portrait of Marianne Breslauer; in several images of unusual bodies, she convolutes anatomy and physiology to craft images that are at once familiar and alien. And the wondrous, whimsical, challenge of her work is tempered with a muted grayscale color scheme that unites each of her pieces as sentences in one large conversation about what it is to be alive.

One inspiration for Porat’s work is the Kibbutz in which she grew up, a “unique place which derives it identity from its history and the story behind its settlement.” Through her upbringing there, Ronit Porat began to understand how important it was to analyze histories holistically, incorporating objects and artifacts that come from various periods and cultural contexts. One can clearly see this in her work, which is radically inclusive and pleasantly jarring because of its unexpected pairings of disparate images and texts. Regarding her reasons for mixing so many images, Porat says that “everything can be included in order to create new narratives from the images that resonate with memory, pain and belonging.” And indeed, viewers are sure to experience visceral emotions when enjoying the Israeli artist’s work; it is easy to feel as though we too are included in her art, that she is telling our personal histories.

Ronit Porat’s art has resonated with audiences all over the world, and she has received coveted awards from organizations such as America-Israel Cultural Foundation, the Arab Jewish seminar on Creative Environment, the Ministry of Culture and Sport, and the Hadassah College of Technology. She was also named Musrara, Jerusalem’s Artist for Social Change in 2009.

Lychnari – Gisèle (1988)

LYCHNARI – GISÈLE

verkenningen in het Griekenland van nu

publiceerde in 1988 in het kunstkatern het artikel ‘GISÈLE’ geschreven door archeoloog en Griekenland expert Stella Lubsen.

Lychnari is sinds 1987 een Nederlandstalig tijdschrift over het hedendaagse Griekenland, met als ondertitel: “Verkenningen in het Griekenland van nu”. Het verschijnt vier keer per jaar. Het Griekse woord lychnari betekent olielampje: het tijdschrift wil — voor een breed publiek, maar met een zekere diepgang — licht werpen op de moderne Griekse wereld: van Griekenland, van Cyprus en van de Grieken waar ook ter wereld.

Lees hier het hele artikel ‘Gisele’ in Lychnari Jaargang 2 Nr 1 1988

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In 1988 blikt Gisèle (1912 – 2013) in gesprek met Stella Lubsen terug op de zomers die zij vanaf de jaren zestig op het Griekse eiland Paros doorbracht, een periode die weer een heel nieuwe dimensie aan haar brede oeuvre toevoegde. Haar atelier in haar kloostertje Aghios Ioannis op basis waarvan Gisèle haar laatste grote atelier in Amsterdam inrichtte.

 

De 2e jaargang van dit academische tijdschrift verscheen bijna 30 jaar geleden, toen begon het editorial met de onderstaande inleidende kop en tekst. Die regel sluit nog altijd nauw aan bij de huidige situatie, zou je kunnen zeggen.

Spannende Tijden Het nieuwe jaar is in Griekenland begonnen met allerlei belangrijke ontwikkelingen, die een stempel kunnen gaan drukken op de binnenlandse verhoudingen en de buitenlandse politiek van het land.

 

Kenan Malik: Living in Diversity

Kenan Malik‘s lecture ‘Living In Diversity’ at Castrum Peregrini, 2 May 2016, was organised on the occasion of the launch of the Gisèle House.
He writes about his experience at Castrum Peregrini on his personal blog.
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KnipselLiving in Diversity  

‘Can Europe be the same with different people in it?’ So asked the American writer Christopher Caldwell in his book, Reflections on the Revolution in Europe, published a few years ago. It is a question that has been asked with increasing urgency in recent years as the question of immigration, and in particular of Islamic immigration, has taken centre stage.

At the heart of this question lies the dilemma of how Western societies should respond to the influx of peoples with different traditions, backgrounds and beliefs. What should be the boundaries of tolerance in such societies? Should immigrants be made to assimilate to Western customs and norms or is integration a two-way street? Such questions have bedeviled politicians and policy-makers for the past half-century. They have also tied liberals in knots.

The conundrums about diversity have been exacerbated by the two issues that now dominate contemporary European political discourse – the migration crisis and the problem of terrorism. How we discuss these issues, and how we relate the one to the other, will shape the character of European societies over the net period.

The migration crisis is often seen as an issue of numbers. More than a million irregular migrants arrived on Europe’s shores last year. The images of thousands of migrants desperately crossing the Aegean, or trudging their way through the Balkans, or arriving at railway stations in Hungary, Austria and Germany filled our TV screens for much of the past year. They give a sense of a continent under siege, of seemingly the whole world wanting to come to Europe.

The numbers of migrants coming to Europe are indeed large. But it is worth putting these numbers in context. One million migrants constitute less than 0.2 per cent of the EU’s population. Turkey, the country to which migrants are being deported under the new deal signed with the EU, has a population one seventh that of the EU, but is already host to some 3 million Syrian refugees. There are already 1.3 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon – 20 per cent of the population. That is the equivalent of Europe playing host to 100m refugees. Pakistan and Iran each have over 1 million refugees within their borders.

Some of the poorest countries in the world, in other words, already bear the greatest burden when it comes to helping refugees. If these countries were to adopt Europe’s attitude, there really would be a crisis.

Debates about immigration are, however, rarely about numbers as such. They are much more about who the migrants are, and about underlying anxieties of nation, community, identity and values. ‘We should not forget’, claimed Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán, as Hungary put up new border fences, and introduced draconian new anti-immigration laws, ‘that the people who are coming here grew up in a different religion and represent a completely different culture. Most are not Christian, but Muslim.’ ‘Is it not worrying’, he asked, ‘that Europe’s Christian culture is already barely able to maintain its own set of Christian values?’

Many thinkers, Christian and non-Christian, religious and non-religious, echo this fear of Muslim immigration undermining the cultural and moral foundation of Western civilization. The late Oriana Fallaci, the Italian writer who perhaps more than most promoted the notion of Eurabia – the belief that Europe is being Islamicised – described herself as a ‘Christian atheist’, insisting that only Christianity provided Europe with a cultural and intellectual bulwark against Islam. The British historian Niall Ferguson calls himself ‘an incurable atheist’ and yet is alarmed by the decline of Christianity which undermines ‘any religious resistance’ to radical Islam. Melanie Phillips, a non-believing Jew, argues in her book The World Turned Upside Down that ‘Christianity is under direct and unremitting cultural assault from those who want to destroy the bedrock values of Western civilization.’

To look upon migration in this fashion is, I want to suggest, a misunderstanding of both Europe’s past and Europe’s present. To understand why, I want first to explore two fundamental questions, the answers to which must frame any discussion on inclusion and morality. What we mean by a diverse society? And why should we value it, or indeed, fear it?

When we think about diversity today in Europe, the picture we see is that of societies that in the past were homogenous, but have now become plural because of immigration. But in what way were European societies homogenous in the past? And in what ways are they diverse today?

Certainly, if you had asked a Frenchman or an Englishman or a Spaniard in the nineteenth or the fifteenth or the twelfth centuries, they would certainly not have described their societies as homogenous. And were they to be transported to contemporary Europe, it is likely that they would see it as far less diverse than we do.

Our view of the Europe of the past is distorted by historical amnesia; and our view of the Europe of the present is distorted by a highly restricted notion of diversity. When we talk of European societies as historically homogenous, what we mean is that they used to be ethnically, or perhaps culturally, homogenous. But the world is diverse in many ways. Societies are cut through by differences, not only of ethnicity, but also of class, gender, faith, politics, and much else.

Many of the fears we have of the consequences of modern diversity are in fact echoes of fears that were central to what we now see as homogenous Europe. Consider, for instance, the debate about the clash between Islam and the West, and fear of Islamic values as incompatible with those of the West. It may be hard to imagine now but Catholics were until relatively recently seen by many much as Muslims are now.

The English philosopher John Locke is generally seen as providing the philosophical foundations of liberalism. His Letter Concerning Toleration is a key text in the development of modern liberal ideas about freedom of expression and worship. But he refused to extend such tolerance to Catholics because they posed a threat to English identity and security. Until the nineteenth century Catholics in Britain were by law excluded from most public offices, and denied the vote; they were barred from universities, from many professions, and from serving in the armed forces. Protestants were banned from converting to Catholicism, and Catholics banned from marrying Protestants.

Such vicious anti-Catholicism existed well into the twentieth century, and not just in Europe. In America, the historian Leo Lucassen observes, Catholicism was perceived as ‘representing an entirely different culture and worldview, and it was feared because of the faith’s global and expansive aspirations’. ‘It is the political character of the Roman Church’, wrote the essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, ‘that makes it incompatible with our institutions & unwelcome here.’

Today the idea of the Judeo-Christian tradition as the foundation of Western civilization is taken as received wisdom. But the concept of a ‘Judeo Christian tradition’ is an invention of the 1930s, arising out o the attempt to create a broad front to challenge the menace of anti-Semitism. Its invention is testament to the fact that, in the eyes of many people, Jews constituted a mortal threat to European identity, values and ways of being, so much so that they became victims of the world’s greatest genocide. The very existence of Castrum Peregrini is testament to that view of Jews as a civilizational menace.

From the creation of the first Ghetto, in Venice, exactly 500 years ago, to Martin Luther’s fulminations against Jewry, to the Dreyfus affair in France, to Britain’s first immigration law, the 1905 Aliens Act, designed principally to stem the flow into the country of East European Jews, a central strand in European historical consciousness was the portrayal of Jews as the elemental ‘Other’.

Europe was rent not just by religious and cultural but by political conflict, too. From the English civil war to the Spanish civil war, from the German Peasants’ rebellion to the Paris commune, European nations were deeply divided. Conflicts between communists and conservatives, liberals and socialists, monarchists and liberals became the hallmark of European societies.

Of course we don’t think of these conflicts as expressions of a diverse society. Why not? Only because we have a restricted view of what diversity entails.

But even within that restricted notion of diversity, our historical picture of European societies is mistaken. We look back upon European societies and imagine that they were racially and ethnically homogenous. But that is not how Europeans of the time looked upon their societies. In the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth, the working class and the rural poor were seen by many as racial distinct.

A vignette of working-class life in Bethnal Green, a working class area of east London, that appeared in an 1864 edition of The Saturday Review, a well-read liberal magazine of the era, was typical of Victorian middle-class attitudes. ‘The Bethnal Green poor’, the article explained, constituted ‘a race of whom we know nothing, whose lives are of quite different complexion from ours, persons with whom we have no point of contact.’ ‘Distinctions and separations, like those of English classes’, the article concluded, ‘which always endure, which last from the cradle to the grave… offer a very fair parallel to the separation of the slaves from the whites.’

There were similar attitudes in France. In a speech in 1857, the Christian socialist Phillipe Buchez wondered how it could happen that ‘within a population such as ours, races may form – not merely one, but several races – so miserable, inferior and bastardised that they may be classed as below the most inferior savage races, for their inferiority is sometimes beyond cure.’ The ‘races’ that caused Buchez such anxiety were not immigrants from Africa or Asia but the rural poor in France.

The concept of a homogenous Europe made diverse by modern immigration crumbles when shake off our historical amnesia. We only imagine our societies as particularly diverse because we rewrite the past, and because a very peculiar definition of what constitutes diversity allows us to ignore the diversity – and the fears and the conflicts – that then existed. European societies have always had, or were perceived to have had, ‘different peoples’ within their borders.

And this brings us to the second question: why should we value diversity, or indeed, fear it? I will return later to the question of why we may wish to value diversity. But I want to begin with the question of why many fear it. Consider two contemporary French thinkers from opposite ends of the political spectrum, for both of whom Islam represents a threat, but for very different reasons: the liberal philosopher Bernard-Henry Lévy and the conservative thinker Pierre Manent.

In 2010, during the debate about whether the burqa should be banned, Lévy came out ‘in favor of a law that clearly and plainly declares that wearing a burqa in the public area is anti-republican’. But, he insisted ‘This is not about the burqa. It’s about Voltaire. What is at stake is the Enlightenment of yesterday and today, and the heritage of both, no less sacred than that of the three monotheisms.’

Where, for Lévy, Islam represents a threat to Enlightenment liberalism, for Manent it is the corrosive impact of Enlightenment liberalism that has allowed Islam to be a threat. The French have no choice but to surrender to Islam, Manent argues, because they have become decadent and ‘tired of freedom’. By emphasizing rights rather than duties, our desiccated democracies have dissolved social bonds leaving nothing but a ‘dust’ of isolated egos. ‘The most striking fact about the present moment’, Manent writes, ‘is the political and spiritual enfeeblement of the nation. … If Islam is extending and consolidating its influence … in a region where all social forms are vulnerable to corrosive critique in the name of individual rights, then there can scarcely be any future for Europe other than Islamization by default.’

Many liberals have echoed Levy’s warnings, many conservatives Manent’s fears. Both view Islam as a threat to European values, but disagree on what values are being threatened. For liberals, conservative Islamic doctrines run counter to the values of the Enlightenment. For conservatives, it precisely the corrosive impact of liberal Enlightenment values that have allowed Islam to triumph.

The fear of diversity, in other words, is itself felt from a diversity of standpoints. And fear of the Other is rooted primarily in anxieties about the Self. The Other becomes a problem – indeed the Other needs only to be conjured up – when there is social apprehension about who we are or what we stand for.

The claim that Islam poses a fundamental threat to Western values draws on the ‘clash of civilizations’ thesis, popularized in the 1990s by the American political scientist Samuel Huntington. The conflicts that have convulsed Europe over the past centuries, Huntington wrote in a famous 1993 essay, from the wars of religion between Protestants and Catholics to the Cold War, were all ‘conflicts within Western civilization’. The ‘battle lines of the future’, on the other hand, would be between civilizations. And the most deep-set of these would be between the Christian West and the Islamic East, a ‘far more fundamental’ struggle than any war unleashed by ‘differences among political ideologies and political regimes’.

Civilizations, however, are not self-enclosed entities. They are ‘civilizations’ precisely because they are porous, fluid, open to wider influences. Because they are open to diversity.

There are no historically transcendent civilizational values. There is a view of European civilization as developing along a linear line from Ancient Greece through the crucible of Christianity to the Enlightenment and modernity. Yet, what many today many describe as ‘European’ values would have left most of the major figures in that European tradition bewildered – Aquinas and Dante, for instance, and even more so Augustine and Plato. On the other hand, Aquinas and Dante certainly would have understood the values of many of their Islamic contemporaries, such as the great philosophers Ibn Sina or Ibn Rushd, values that many would now consider as existential threats to the very being of Europe.

There is, in other words, no single set of European values that transcends history in opposition to Islamic values. Nor is there a single Islamic tradition that transcends history. Norms and practices have inevitably varied over time and space. They inevitably mutated in a faith that has lasted for almost 1500 years. They inevitably diverged in an empire that once stretched from the Bay of Bengal to the Bay of Biscay, and do so even more in a community that is now spread out across the globe from Indonesia (which has the largest Muslim population in the world) to America, from Scotland to South Africa.

Consider a recent poll of British Muslim attitudes that generated a national debate. The poll was conducted for a TV documentary fronted by Trevor Phillips, former head of Britain’s Equalities and Human Rights Commission, and of its predecessor, the Commission for Racial Equality.

The poll revealed a deep well of social conservatism within British Muslim communities. Just 18 per cent of Muslims thought that homosexuality should be legal (compared to 73 per cent of the general population), 4 in 10 thought wives should always obey her husband. A third wanted girls to be educated separately to boys. Almost 9 out ten thought that the law should not permit mockery of the Prophet.

Trevor Phillips, who as head of the EHRC and the CRE played an important role in shaping integration policies, wrote of ‘a chasm opening between Muslims and non-Muslims’ and ‘the unacknowledged creation of a nation within the nation, with its own geography, its own values and its own very separate future.’ Europe’s Muslims, he suggested, were different from previous waves of migrants because they had have refused to ‘abandon their ancestral ways’. ‘The integration of Muslims’, he concluded, ‘will probably be the hardest task we’ve ever faced’.

Seen by itself, the poll might indeed lead one to such a conclusion. But any poll provides at best a snapshot of the views of people in one place, at one time. People, and communities do not, however, exist as a snapshot.

Had you taken this poll 30 years ago, when I was growing up, you would have found very different results. For the contemporary social conservatism of British Muslims has not always been present. The first generation of Muslims to Britain were religious, but wore their faith lightly. Many men drank alcohol. Few women wore a hijab, let alone a burqa or niqab. Most visited the mosque only occasionally, when the ‘Friday feeling’ took them. Islam was not, in their eyes, an all-encompassing philosophy. Their faith expressed for them a relationship with God, not a sacrosanct public identity.

The second generation of Britons with a Muslim background – my generation – was primarily secular. Religious organizations were barely visible. The organizations that bound together Asian communities (and we thought of ourselves as ‘Asian’ or ‘black’, not ‘Muslim’) were primarily secular, often political.

It is only with the generation that has come of age since the late 1980s that the question of cultural differences has come to be seen as important. A generation that, ironically, is far more integrated and ‘Westernised’ than the first generation, is also the generation that is most insistent on maintaining its ‘difference’. Much the same process can be sketched out in France, in Germany, in the Netherlands. It is a paradox that questions the conventional view of the relationship between diversity and integration. Yet it is one that is rarely discussed.

One reason for that is that we rarely take a step back to give ourselves a broader perspective on social problems. What one might call the ‘snapshot’ view of communities and cultures has become central to much of the discussion about diversity and integration. So, Trevor Phillips claimed in his TV documentary that British Muslims ‘don’t want to change’ and ‘still hold views from their ancestral backgrounds’.

The real problem is, in fact, the very opposite. British Muslims have changed. But many have changed by becoming more socially conservative. The question we need to address, therefore, is why has this change taken place? But blinded by a snapshot view of Muslim communities, most policymakers and ask the opposite question: Why hasn’t any change taken place? If we cannot even ask the right questions, it is little wonder that we fail to find the right answers.

At the same time, the fact that significant sections of British Muslim communities have become conservative, even reactionary, on many social and religious issues, does not mean that all have. No community is homogenous. To say that Christians have become more liberal on issues of gay marriage over the past thirty years is not to deny that there is a diversity of Christian views on this issue. The same is true of Muslims. There is evidence that British Muslims have become more polarized on social issues – that a large proportion have become more conservative, while small minority is far more liberal than much of the population at large. There is polling evidence, too, that Muslims in many European countries, and in the USA, are more liberal than Muslims in Britain.

And this leads us to another of the ironies in the way we think of diversity. Many who view society as diverse often fail to see the diversity of minority communities. This is as true of those who welcome diversity as of those who fear or reject it.

Consider social policy in France and Britain. As forms of public policy, French assimilationism and British multiculturalism are generally regarded as polar opposites. Yet, from very different starting points, both kinds of policy have come to foster narrower visions of social identity, and both have tended to ignore the diversity of minority communities, treating them instead as if each was a distinct, homogenous whole, each composed of people all speaking with a single voice, each defined by a singular view of culture and faith.

‘What, in today’s France’, asks the novelist and filmmaker Karim Miské, ‘unites the pious Algerian retired worker, the atheist French-Mauritanian director that I am, the Fulani Sufi bank employee from Mantes-la-Jolie, the social worker from Burgundy who has converted to Islam, and the agnostic male nurse who has never set foot in his grandparents’ home in Oujda?  What brings us together if not the fact that we live within a society which thinks of us as Muslims?’

Of the five million or so French citizens of North African origin, just 40 per cent think of themselves as observant Muslims, and only one in four attend Friday prayers. Yet, Miské observes, all are looked upon by French politicians, policy makers, intellectuals and journalists as ‘Muslims’. Government ministers often talk of France’s ‘five million Muslims’.

The use of ‘Muslim’ as a label for French citizens of North African origin is not accidental. It is part of the process whereby the state casts such citizens as the Other – as not really part of the French nation. Faced, as are politicians in many European nations, with a distrustful and disengaged public, French politicians have attempted to reassert the notion of a common French identity. But unable to define clearly the ideas and values that characterize the nation, they have done so primarily by turning Islam into the ‘Other’ against which French identity is defined.

In his 1945 essay Anti-Semite and Jew, Jean Paul Sartre had suggested that the authentic Jew was created by the anti-Semite. Miské makes the same point about the authentic Muslim: that it is the way that the outside society treats those of North African origin that creates the idea of the authentic Muslim, and indeed of the Muslim community itself.

French citizens of North African origin who do not think of themselves as ‘Muslim’, can, writes Miské, ‘feign indifference’ and ‘appear to be French, secularist and republican, devoted lovers of our land and our territories’. But, he asks ‘how long can we seriously hold on to this voluntary position when we are constantly sent back to our ‘Muslim’ identity?’ In other words, the identity ‘Muslim’ is both created by the wider society, and appropriated by those defined as ‘Muslim’ as a means of asserting their own agency, ‘to regain possession of our diminished existences’, as Miské puts it.

Much the same is true of Britain. British multicultural policies do not, as in France, seek to define national identity against the Other, but rather portray the nation as ‘a community of communities’, as the influential Parekh report on multiculturalism put it. The authorities have attempted to manage diversity by putting people into particular ethnic and cultural boxes, defining individual needs and rights by virtue of the boxes into which people were put, and using those boxes to shape public policy.

Instead of engaging directly with Muslim communities, the authorities have effectively subcontracted out their responsibilities to so-called community leaders. Rather than appealing to Muslims as British citizens like all others, the ‘community of communities’ approach encourages politicians to see them as people whose primarily loyalty is to their faith and who can be politically engaged only by other Muslims. The result has been, as in France, to create a more parochial sense of identity and a more tribal vision of Islam.

One consequence of this perverse way of thinking about diversity is that the most progressive voices within minority communities often get silenced as not being truly of that community or truly authentic, while the most conservative voices get celebrated as community leaders, the authentic voices of minority groups.

The Danish MP Naser Khader tells of a conversation with a journalist who claimed that ‘the Muhammad cartoons insulted all Muslims’. ‘I am not insulted’, Khader responded. ‘But you’re not a real Muslim’, came the reply.

‘You’re not a real Muslim.’ Why? Because to be proper Muslim is, from such a perspective, to be reactionary, to find the Muhammed caricatures offensive. Anyone who isn’t reactionary or offended is by definition not a proper Muslim. Here liberal ‘anti-racism’ meets rightwing anti-Muslim bigotry.

The ways in which we conventionally look upon diversity, then, turn migrants into the Other, stripped of individuality, even, ironically, of diversity. Minority communities have become seen as homogenous groups, denied the possibility of transformation, defined by primarily by culture, faith, and place of origin.

The clash between the reality of living in a diverse society and the official insistence on putting people into cultural or ethnic boxes, and the creation of a more parochial, more tribal sense of identity, can have grave consequences. Consider, for instance, the second issue that, together with the migration crisis, dominates much of contemporary European political discourse: the growth of homegrown jihadists. The recent attacks in Paris and Brussels have brought the two issues together in many people’s minds.

The problem of jihadism, the argument goes, is a problem of migration, because it is the arrival into Europe of those with fundamentally different values and beliefs, and with a hatred European civilization, that lies at the root the European jihadist problem. Close off the borders, stop the influx of Muslims, and Europe will begin to be able to deal with the issue of jihadism within.

It is an argument that flies in the face of the facts. The vast majority of European jihadis are not migrants, but second or generation Europeans, and their relationship with Islam is far from straightforward. A high proportion – up to 30 per cent in France – are converts to Islam.

Many studies show, perhaps counter-intuitively, that individuals are not usually led to jihadist groups by religious faith. A British MI5 ‘Briefing Note’ entitled ‘Understanding radicalisation and extremism in the UK’, leaked to the press in 2008 observed that ‘far from being religious zealots, a large number of those involved in terrorism do not practice regularly’. The French sociologist Olivier Roy similarly observes of contemporary jihadis that ‘Very few of them had a previous story of militancy, either political… or religious’. A Europol review of Changes in modus operandi of Islamic State terrorist attacks also notes the ‘shift away from the religious component in the radicalisation of, especially, young recruits’.

We often look at the issue of European jihadism the wrong way round. We begin with jihadists as they are at the end of their journey – enraged about the West, with a back and white view of Islam, and a distorted moral vision – and often assume that these are the reasons that they have come to be as they are. That is rarely the case.

Few jihadists start off as religious fanatics or as political militants. Radical Islam, and a hatred of West, is not necessarily what draws individuals into jihadism. It is what comes to define and justify that jihadism.

So, if not religion or politics, what is it? ‘The path to radicalization’, as the British researcher Tufyal Choudhury put it in his 2007 report on ‘The Role of Muslim Identity in Radicalization’ ‘often involves a search for identity at a moment of crisis… when previous explanations and belief systems are found to be inadequate in explaining an individual’s experience.’

Jihadists, in other words, begin their journey searching for something a lot less definable: identity, meaning, respect. There is, of course, nothing new in the youthful search for identity and meaning. What is different today is the social context in which this search takes place. We live in a more atomized society than in the past; in an age in which many people feel peculiarly disengaged from mainstream social institutions and in which moral lines often seem blurred and identities distorted.

In the past, disaffection with the mainstream may have led people to join movements for political change, from far-left groups to labour movement organizations to anti-racist campaigns. Such organizations helped both give idealism and social grievance a political form, and a mechanism for turning disaffection into the fuel of social change.

Today, such campaigns and organizations often seem as out of touch as mainstream institutions. What gives shape to contemporary disaffection is not progressive politics, as it may have in the past, but the politics of identity. Identity politics has, over the past three decades, encouraged people to define themselves in increasingly narrow ethnic or cultural terms.

At the same time social policy has, as I have already observed, exacerbated these trends, helping create a more fragmented, tribalized society.

A generation ago, today’s ‘radicalized’ Muslims would probably have been far more secular in their outlook, and their radicalism would have expressed itself through political organizations. They would have regarded their faith as simply one strand in a complex tapestry of self-identity. Many, perhaps most, Muslims still do. But there is a growing number that see themselves as Muslims in an almost tribal sense, for whom the richness of the tapestry of self has given way to an all-encompassing monochrome cloak of faith.

Most homegrown jihadis possess, however, a peculiar relationship with Islam. They are, in many ways, as estranged from Muslim communities as they are from Western societies.  Most detest the mores and traditions of their parents, have little time for mainstream forms of Islam, and cut themselves off from traditional community institutions. Disengaged from both Western societies and Muslim communities, some reach out to Islamism. Many would-be jihadis, Olivier Roy observes, ‘adopt the Salafi version of Islam, because Salafism is both simple to understand (don’ts and do’s)’ and because it is ‘the negation of… the Islam of their parents and of their roots.’ It is not through mosques or religious institutions but through the Internet that most jihadis discover both their faith and their virtual community.

Disembedded from social norms, finding their identity within a small group, shaped by black and white ideas and values, driven by a sense that they must act on behalf of all Muslims and in opposition to all enemies of Islam, it becomes easier for wannabe jihadis to commit acts of horror and to view such acts as part of an existential struggle between Islam and the West.

How, then, should we look upon diversity? I have questioned the fear of diversity. But why, and how, should we value it?

When we talk about diversity, what we mean is that the world is a messy place, full of clashes and conflicts. That is all for the good, for such clashes and conflicts are the stuff of political and cultural engagement.

Diversity is important, not in and of itself, but because it allows us to expand our horizons, to compare and contrast different values, beliefs and lifestyles, make judgments upon them, and decide which may be better and which may be worse. It is important, in other words, because it allows us to engage in political dialogue and debate that can, paradoxically, help create a more universal language of citizenship.

But the very thing that is valuable about diversity – the cultural and ideological clashes that it brings about – is precisely what many fear. That fear can take two forms. On the one hand there is the nativist sentiment: the belief immigration is undermining social cohesion, eroding our sense of national identity, turning our cities into little Lahores or mini-Kingstons.

And on the other there is the multicultural argument, that respect for others requires us to accept their ways of being, and not criticize or challenge their values or practices, but instead to police the boundaries between groups to minimize the clashes and conflicts and frictions that diversity brings in its wake.

The one approach encourages fear, the other indifference. The one approach views migrants as the Other, whose otherness poses a threat to European societies. The other approach views the otherness of migrants as an issue that society must respect and live with.

Few events better express both the fear and the indifference than the fallout from the events of New Year’s Eve in Cologne. Large numbers of women were allegedly that evening robbed and sexually assaulted by men, many of whom were described as being of Arab origin. At first the authorities tried to cover up the events, pretending that nothing had happened. When details eventually emerged there was inevitably outrage.

The authorities’ initial response stemmed not just from a fear of the reaction and of racists exploiting the issue, but also from a sense that such events were inevitable in a diverse society in which different values and beliefs and practices clashed, and it was better quietly to let ‘Arabs be Arabs’ than to have a robust and difficult public debate about the issue. And when the truth began to filter out, public fury was directed not just at the men responsible for the sexual attacks, nor just the authorities who tried to cover up the incident, but also at migrants as a whole, becoming a reason for opposing all migration to Germany. Both perspectives view migrants as the Other, as people fundamentally different from Us, though they differ in how deal with the otherness. Fear and indifference, indifference and fear, twisted into a tight knot.

What neither approach begins to address is the question of engagement. Engagement requires us neither to shun certain people as the Other with values, beliefs and practices that are inevitably and fundamentally inimical to ours, nor to be indifferent to the values and beliefs and practices of others in the name of ‘respect’, but rather to recognize that respect requires us to challenge, even confront, that values and beliefs of others. It requires us to have an robust, open public debate about the values, beliefs and practices to which we aspire, accepting that such a debate will be difficult, and often confrontational, but also that such difficult confrontational debate is a necessity in any society that seeks to be open and liberal.

The retreat from engagement is perhaps best expressed in one of the most explosive issues of recent times – that of free speech, and the question of where one draws the boundaries, especially in the giving of offence. From the global controversy over the Danish cartoons to the brutal slaughter at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, the question of what is, and should be, acceptable in a plural society has become one of the defining conundrums of our age.

There has come to be an acceptance in many European nations that it is morally wrong to give offence to those of different cultures or faiths or beliefs. For diverse societies to function and to be fair, so the argument runs, we need to show respect not just for individuals but also for the cultures and beliefs in which those individuals are embedded and which helps give them a sense of identity and being. This requires that we police public discourse about those cultures and beliefs, both to minimize friction between antagonistic groups and to protect the dignity of those individuals embedded in them.

As the British sociologist Tariq Modood has put it, that ‘If people are to occupy the same political space without conflict, they mutually have to limit the extent to which they subject each others’ fundamental beliefs to criticism.’ One of the ironies of living in a plural society, it would seem, is that the preservation of diversity requires us to leave less room for a diversity of views.

I take the opposite view. It is precisely because we do live in a plural society that we need the fullest extension possible of free speech, because it is both inevitable and important that people offend the sensibilities of others. Inevitable, because where different beliefs are deeply held, clashes are unavoidable. Almost by definition such clashes express what it is to live in a diverse society.   And so they should be openly resolved than suppressed in the name of ‘respect’ or ‘tolerance’.

But more than this: the giving of offence is not just inevitable, it is also important. Any kind of social change or social progress means offending some deeply held sensibilities. Or to put it another way: ‘You can’t say that!’ is all too often the response of those in power to having their power challenged. To accept that certain things cannot be said is to accept that certain forms of power cannot be challenged.

The notion of giving offence suggests that certain beliefs are so important or valuable to certain people that they should be put beyond the possibility of being insulted, or caricatured or even questioned. The importance of the principle of free speech is precisely that it provides a permanent challenge to the idea that some questions are beyond contention, and hence acts as a permanent challenge to authority. Once we give up the right to offend in the name of ‘tolerance’ or ‘respect’, we constrain our ability to confront those in power, and therefore to challenge injustice.

It is not, however, simply Muslim, or minority, sensibilities that should be able to be offended. Liberal or European sensitivities, too, should be open to affront. Yet, too often those who demand the right of newspapers or novelists to offend Muslims, often are less robust when it comes to views that may offend liberal norms. Double standards are rife.

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, the French government organized a march through Paris in defence of free speech, a march that was attended by over a million and a half people and 40 world leaders. It also arrested more than 50 people, including the comedian Dieudonné, for seemingly showing sympathy with the gunmen. In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders presents himself as a warrior for free speech. But he wants to ban the Qur’an because he considers it hate speech. Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper that published the Muhammad cartoons had, a few years earlier, refused to publish cartoons about Jesus by the caricaturist Christoffer Zieler because they might ‘provoke an outcry’. And so it goes on.

The fundamental importance of free speech is that it is the very material of social engagement. When we restrain freedom of expression what we are really restraining is the capacity for social engagement. But social engagement has to be a two-way street, or it is nothing at all. Double standards undermine the very possibility of real engagement.

So, finally, let me return to the question that is the title of this talk: how should we live in a diverse society?

First, we need to recognize how narrow a view of diversity we have today. And that our narrow concept of diversity is at the very heart of many of our problem. If we look upon our differences in political or moral terms, they are often negotiable. If we see them in ethnic or cultural or religious terms, almost by definition they are not. Our peculiar perception of diversity has therefore made social conflict more intractable.

Second, we need to combat the pernicious impact of identity politics, and of the way that social policies have accentuated that pernicious impact. The combination of the two has ensured that social solidarity has become increasingly defined not in political terms – as collective action in pursuit of certain political ideals – but in terms of ethnicity or culture. The answer to the question ‘In what kind of society do I want to live?’ has become shaped less by the kinds of values or institutions we want to establish, than by the group or tribe to which we imagine we belong. From this perspective, diversity becomes a prison rather than the raw material for social engagement.

Third, we need to recognize that the issue of social fracturing is not simply an issue of migration or of minority communities. One of the features of contemporary Europe is the disaffection that many have with mainstream politics and mainstream institutions. It is one of the reasons for the rise of populist and far right groups, a disaffection fuelled by a host of social and political changes, that have left many, particularly from traditional working class backgrounds, feeling politically abandoned and voiceless, and detached from mainstream society.

There are certainly issues specific to immigrants and minority communities, but they are best understood in the context of the wider debate about the relationship between individuals, communities and society. Societies have become fragmented because these relationships have frayed, and not just for minority communities.

Finally, a guiding assumption throughout Europe has been that immigration and integration must be managed through state policies and institutions. Yet real integration, whether of immigrants or of indigenous groups, is rarely brought about by the actions of the state. Indeed , the attempts by the state to manage diversity has been at the heart of many of the problems.

Real integration is shaped primarily by civil society, by the individual bonds that people form with one another, and by the organizations they establish to further their shared political and social interests. It is the erosion of such bonds and institutions that has proved so problematic and that explains why social disengagement is a feature not simply of immigrant communities but of the wider society, too. To repair the damage that disengagement has done, and to revive what I call a progressive universalism, we need, not so much new state policies, as a renewal of civil society.

 

Een ingekorte Nederlandse versie van deze tekst verscheen tevens in De Groene Amsterdammer van 26 Mei 2016.