publication date 24-7-2018

When we Speak about Colonisation: Rijksakademie Reading Room Program on Friday 27 July


When we Speak about Colonisation

Friday, July 27th, 16:00 – 18:00
Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten

On Friday July 27, as part of the new public Rijksakademie Reading Room Program, artists Vesna Faassen & Lukas Verdijk together with Mathieu Charles, staff member of culture at the Minderhedenforum (Minorities Forum, Brussels), will discuss the foundations of the publication 'When we Speak about Colonisation' (2017). This book is the very first Dutch bundling of texts about colonisation written by Congolese historians, who were educated and are working in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

In collaboration with Mathieu Charles, the artist duo will speak about their project and the fact it took almost sixty years after the independence of Congo to publish the very first book written by Congolese historians in Dutch. A vast majority of the books on the Democratic Republic of Congo that have been translated into Dutch, are not written by Congolese natives. When it comes to the DRC, one mainly finds travel stories, (exoticising) fiction and (pseudo-) scientific works with a Eurocentric view on the 'Other' that create false stereotypes through their narratives and related imagery. Mathieu Charles will address these issues and share his thoughts on his work in which he stimulates and challenges publishers, libraries, bookshops and literary organizations to adapt their policies and include a broader range of narratives.

About ‘When we speak about colonisation’:
To create a multi-vocal narrative around the theme of (de/post-)colonisation, is the goals of the book project “When we speak about colonisation” by artists Vesna Faassen and Lukas Verdijk. Up until now, only white Dutch speaking historians had a voice in the Flemish debate around the colonial history. With their project, the artist-duo aims to change the agency and agents present within the debate. On the one hand, this means they let Congolese natives tell their story from their own perspective. On the other hand they want to activate the ideas behind their publication project in several different ways. The book itself, in this sense, merely focuses as a starting point for a versatile dialogue – for which reading groups, talks, lectures discussions and presentations are being organised. Before, such events took place at spaces such as Mu.Zee (Oostende), Festival Congolisation #3 at the Pianofabriek (Brussels), and Framer Framed (Amsterdam).

About the Rijksakademie Reading Room Program
The Rijksakademie Theory Workshop has invited Vincent van Velsen as a guest resident to develop a public program that will bring people together in an informal setting at the Rijksakademie Library. This central space functions as the symbolic heart of the Rijksakademie, and alike the institute, fosters practices relatively outside the realm of daily business. Both institute and library are considered to be places where thoughts can be developed in relative isolation - as much individually as in collaboration with others. Similarly, the RRRProgam serves as a place for research and as safe haven. It provides the opportunity to openly be, (inter)act, speak and think (different) – in relation to historic and contemporary sources. In that line of thought, Van Velsen developed his RRRProgram that will question the structures of given frameworks: starting out with the concept and content of the Library itself.

Mathieu Charles is staff member of culture at the Minderhedenforum (Minorities Forum) and writes about representation in literature, theater and film.

Vesna Faassen and Lukas Verdijk
Vesna Faassen (1986, NL) and Lukas Verdijk (1984, NL) are an artist duo with, who live and work in Antwerp, Belgium. Their collaboration began with a shared interest in the relationship of photography with culture and heritage. Explorations of contemporary socially engaged art in relation to (post-)colonial, cultural and photographic theory led to the development of their collaboration. With a background in psychology and history, Faassen and Verdijk look into the historical connection of photography and its involvement in the production and fixation of identity, the politics of representation, and power relations.
Vesna Faassen obtained a Master degree in Psychology from the University of Nijmegen (NL) and Lukas Verdijk gained a bachelor in History at the HAN University of Applied Sciences in Arnhem (NL). They both moved to Antwerp to study Photography at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, completing a Master of Arts in 2015. In 2016/2017 they followed the two-year postgraduate course at the Higher Institute of Fine Arts (HISK) in Ghent, Belgium.

Vincent van Velsen
Vincent van Velsen is an Amsterdam based writer, critic and curator with a background in art and architectural history. He regularly writes for individual artists, institutions and magazines; amongst which Frieze, Flash Art and Metropolis M – where he also holds a position as contributing editor. He curated exhibitions for Castrum Peregrini, Framer Framed, Kunsthuis SYB and Museum Flehite, among others. In collaboration with Alix de Massiac, he won the second edition of the curatorial prize of the Dutch Association of Corporate Collections (VBCN, 2014) and in 2015/16 he was a resident at the Jan van Eyck Academy, Maastricht. Currently he is working on forthcoming exhibitions for TENT (Rotterdam) and Nest (The Hague). Van Velsen is a board member at Frontier Imaginaries and De Appel.
Vesna Faassen Vesna Faassen Lukas Verdijk Lukas Verdijk 'Wanneer we spreken over kolonisatie'(When We Speak About Colonisation), 2017 'Wanneer we spreken over kolonisatie'(When We Speak About Colonisation), 2017 'Wanneer we spreken over kolonisatie'(When We Speak About Colonisation), 2017 'Wanneer we spreken over kolonisatie'(When We Speak About Colonisation), 2017