Beyonding Urbanity

Together with the Prince Claus Fund and Creative Industries Fund NL, we organise the symposium Beyonding Urbanity, where the participants of Building Beyond, together with students of Sandberg's Blacker Blackness programme will reimagine the future of cities. This collaboration was initiated by current Rijksakademie resident Ola Hassanain, who will also be moderating the panels.

Please register for attending the live event or watch on vimeo.

African cities are the fastest urbanising spaces in the world. They host the youngest populations and are sites of new financial channels, ecologies, and spaces. We see these conditions as forms of futurity, where further reinscriptions of Africa as a global capital take place. By extension, reconstitutions of Urbanity. However, in this context a young population of Africans embodies the future as present.

Beyonding Urbanity is a two-part symposium bringing together different perspectives, practices, and forms of expression of artists, designers, architects, and researchers from Egypt, Rwanda, Nigeria, Algeria, South Africa, Ethiopia, Uganda, and the African diasporas. Through conversation they will create a constellation of remembrances, entanglements, concerns, pauses, prompts and offerings of imagination that are centered in cultivating a symbiotic relation to different forms of expression that reconstitute urbanity. In two panels, the participants reflect on the human and non-human ecologies that are 'vital' to the process of erecting buildings, and to organising, designing, resisting, and growing our cities.

This symposium brings together the participants of the Building Beyond Mentorship Programme with the students from the Blacker Blackness Programme at the Sandberg Instituut. Building Beyond is an alternative educational programme that invites 12 creatives from the African continent to reimage the future of African cities through design and creative problem solving. We invite you to join the ongoing conversation on how creative practices rooted in locality and community can lead to new perspectives and promote transformative urban agendas that change how we inhabit our world.

26 October 2022
Rijksakademie, Sarphatistraat 470

12:15 / Doors open
12:30 – 12:45 / Intro
12:45 – 13:15 / Keynote by Jeanne van Heeswijk
13:30 – 17:30 / Panels
17:30 – 18:30 / Drinks

Curatorial: Ola Hassanain
Conceptual development: Khensani Jurczok-de Klerk

Panel 1

13:30 – 15:00

Beyond heritage, time and preservation

Building Beyond participants, Blacker Blackness students

Ola Hassanain + Khensani Jurczok-de Klerk

Simone Zeefuik (others to be confirmed)

Echoing the title of the 36th issue of the Funambulist 'They Have Clocks, We Have Time', we challenge the canonical and universalised notion of reading history chronologically, retrospectively, and significantly. We depart with a recognition of the futurity of African cities in their disobedience, irrespective of scale and frequency, to Western norms and standards that have not aligned or embraced the development of African modes of being in spatial terms. We come together to exchange and suggest modes of operating outside of measurement, where values exist but are shifted through the offerings of how we read space in relation to time.

The work of the participants and conversations between discussants aims to electrify and fabulate ways in which we, as Africans, are already remembering 'otherwise'. Further, how might we come to terms with thinking beyond the status quo, reflecting on our operations, and furthering sensible and careful ways of narrating, listening, seeing, hearing, and coming closer to ourselves through spatial practice. We cause a necessary and positive collapse in our standardised perceptions of archiving and drawing significance, in order to thinking beyond the oppressive nature of preservation, heritage and power embedded in architectural intervention, as it is exists today. We recite to ourselves as a provocation in this panel that – spatial matters are inherently temporal matters.*


Panel 2

15:30 – 17:30

Beyond cultural capital, impact and appropriations

Building Beyond participants, Blacker Blackness students

Ola Hassanain + Khensani Jurczok-de Klerk

Simone Zeefuik (others to be confirmed)

As spatial practitioners concerned and driven by the ever-changing and culturally rich contexts of our African cities, how do we see our impact in society? Being actively critical of the epistemic universal canonical modes of gatekeeping knowledge through archives, one-way resource flows and authorship; how do we participate as producers of space without being apprehended in, being complicit to and becoming ignorant of the current status quo of spatial practice? Urbanity is fast changing, giving exciting possibilities for reframing not only that which we create, but also the ways in which we practice.

In this panel, we ask how we as African practitioners consciously design the ways in which we work, safeguarding the conditions in which we’d like to work. Further, how might we actively participate without re-enforcing the hegemonic norms and standards complicated with power, politics, and extractive forces embedded in the global market — one that at the same time, brings us together.

When we ask, how we travel? we call for a critical discussion, through a reflection on the processes of the participants’ work, to share the ways in which we are already directing how our work is engaged with and positively appropriated. Through an entangled reflection and from multiple perspectives, we fabulate on ways in which we disobey controlling images of African urbanity, reasserting what Patricia Hill Collins calls, the Power of Self Definition (Black Feminist Thought, 2000), as a means of trying to do spatial practice ethically, if at all possible.


Building Beyond: Flavia Gwiza, Hana Tefrati, Nifemi Marcus-Bello, Russel Hlongwane, Ikram Hamdi Mansour, Inam Kula, Katesi Jacqueline Kalange, Kwasi Darko, Salma Belal, Youssef El Idrissi, Mohamed Sirra, Yishak Teklegiorgis

Blacker Blackness Students (to be confirmed): Rhoda Davids Abel, Marly Pierre-Louis, Jaasir Linger, Ivna Esajas

Beyonding Urbanity is made possible by the Creative Industries Fund NL and the Prince Claus Fund.


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