Hogeschool Rotterdam Willem de Kooning Academie

No Humans Involved by HOWDOYOUSAYYAMINAFRICAN? at Witte de With

No Humans Involved by HOWDOYOUSAYYAMINAFRICAN? at Witte de With

Dates: 22 May 2015 – 16 August 2015
Opening: 21 May 2015, 5pm; Performances from 6pm
Location: Witte de With, Witte de Withstraat 50, Rotterdam

Witte de With is pleased to host HOWDOYOUSAYYAMINAFRICAN?, a multi-disciplinary arts collective made up of 45 artists who have lived and worked together, in various iterations, for the past twenty years. The collective consists of visual artists, writers, poets, composers, academics, filmmakers and performers from around the world who collaborate across disciplines and cities. Projects conceived and created by this transnational collective ultimately function as laboratories for investigation, production and discourse.

Members of the collective will reside in Rotterdam for two months to produce new work, including video and sculptural installations, printed matter, sonic scapes and film shorts. Many of these installations include algorithmically produced sounds, piezoelectric material interactions and visual material from social media, which are explored in relation to the body. By pushing the notion of technology in conjunction with socio-political questions into the physical, sensorial and hence affective realm the Collective is invested in aesthetically emphasizing what writer Sylvia Wynter called “sociogenic principle”. A concept that can be understood as a result of processes of social conditioning and culturally prescribed “sense of the self”, drawing from the work of the writer and activist Frantz Fanon.

The exhibition will be organized around the central question: “What does it mean to be human in a world which is continually contesting ‘certain’ people’s humanity?” and will explore different modes of perception as forms of aesthetic conceptual protest and disobedience to normative orders.The ‘new default’ position, which the collective aims to initiate, opens up a conversation around the multiplicity of our identities. Is it possible to move outside of aesthetic strategies that art, through ideological and institutional framings, has for a long time been complicit with? Can art subvert and truly free the body outside the peripheries of myth and representation to open up a debate that might lead to an understanding of what it “feels to be human”?

Exhibition Readings
Exhibition readings are offered throughout the summer by experts including:
5 June, 2015: Teana Boston-Mammah (Researcher, Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences)
3 July, 2015: Samir Bantal (Executive Manager, OMA)

Symposium
Between Nothingness and Infinity
14 July 2015, 6pm
Bringing together artists and scholars in the physical environment of the exhibition NO HUMANS INVOLVED, this symposium acts as a point of departure for an understanding of the ‘nothingness’ and forms of alternative knowledge production that underpin the historically produced dilemma of the position of Blackness. From an acknowledgement of this ‘no-place’ as neither pessimistic or optimistic, the notion of subjectivity and self is questioned and challenged by investigating what Edouard Glissant calls the consent to not be a single being and instead many beings at the same time. Through this lens, key themes such as materiality, time and sound will be reflected upon in contributions and performance lectures by Nana Adusei-Poku (Curatorial Fellow, Witte de With), Karan Barad (Professor of Feminist Studies, Philosophy and History of Consciousness, University of California), Kara Keeling (Associate Professor of Critical Studies, University of Southern California), and Alexander Wehelyie (Professor of African American Studies, Northwestern Unversity) and members of the artist collective HOWDOYOUSAYYAMINAFRICAN?

The exhibition is curated by Nana Adusei-Poku (Curatorial Fellow, Witte de With and Research Professor in Cultural Diversity at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences), Sienna Shields and Christa Bell of HOWDOYOUSAYYAMINAFRICAN?, together with Defne Ayas (Director, Witte de With) and Natasha Hoare (Associate Curator, Witte de With).