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Impossible Stories: Linking Colonial Collections and Climate Change Through Critical Fabulation

Fr 20 May 2022 11:00 – 14:00

How to tell stories about colonial encounters in relation to the contemporary climate change urgency? During a plenary program curated by Maastricht University, KABK Den Haag and the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, participants are invited to respond to podcasts and short videos which presenters distribute online.

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This symposium is centrally about the re-imagination of colonial collections through the lens of the Anthropocene. Colonial conquests and the exploitation of beings, species and territories in Africa, Asia or Latin America result from and produced intimate nature culture relations.

Participants are, amongst others Ola Hassanain, Natalia Sliwinska (KABK), Alexander Cromer, Angela Jerardi and Rolando Vasquez will exchange insights on how to tell stories about these colonial encounters in relation to the contemporary climate change urgency. How do we mobilize the colonial archive to construct and to imagine the voices that have been silenced? Writer Saidiya Hartman refers to a style of creative and interpretative practice as critical fabulation. How can we use techniques such as, perhaps, collage, speculative narratives, or montage in exhibitions, in writings, or in moving image or spatial design as a way of bringing about key questions about collected specimens, colonial encounters and climate justice? Decolonial thinker Rolando Vasquez: can we envisage the possibility of an ethical research life that is “not mediated by and dependent on the destruction of earth and relational worlds?”

The seminar is planned against the backdrop of the launch of an online exhibition Day Zero / Ground Zero Cape Town. A Decolonial Walk along the Liesbeek River, which reflects on the water crisis in this South African city through the lens of colonial occupation of the Cape. This exhibition by Dr Christian Ernsten (FASoS) curated as an online exhibition in collaboration with Erik Wong (Gerrit Rietveld Academie), Dirk-Jan Visser (KABK) and students from Maastricht University. Day Zero / Ground Zero Cape Town. A Decolonial Walk along the Liesbeek River reflects particularly on two illustrated early 18th century works from the Jesuits Collection. Illustrations and fragments from the Naauwkeurige beschryving van de Kaap de Goede Hoop (1727) (The present state of the cape of Good-Hope) by German travel writer Peter Kolb (1675-1726) are juxtaposed with the contemporary work on the Cape by photographer Dirk-Jan Visser.

Where and When?

Friday 20 May 11:00-14:00 at Het Nieuwe Instituut Rotterdam (Museumpark 25)

Entry free, register HERE

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