The Full Moon Phase: Coltan as Cotton

Contour Biennale 9, Mechelen, Belgium
17 May 2019 - 19 May 2019

The Full Moon Phase: Coltan as Cotton

The projects presented during Contour Biennale 9: Coltan as Cotton are inspired by and relate to the city of Mechelen, its inhabitants and, more broadly, Belgium’s recent colonial history. It also poses more general questions about how to position a biennial, whom a biennial addresses and whether we can find sustainable ways to work on a biennial.

The curator, Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez, has designed this edition in phases: a continuum of projects in various formats, in contrast to earlier editions when the biennial ran for 10 weeks. Between September 2018 and October 2019, three major public presentations and several other events will shape the Contour Biennale 9: Coltan as Cotton. These phases will be aligned with the lunar cycle, one of our most natural rhythms, which induces a cyclical conception of time. The title is borrowed from the poem The Bear/Coltan as Cotton by the slammer, musician and poet Saul Williams.

The second weekend is aligned with the Full Moon Phase. This is mainly associated with completeness, sustainability, responsibility and accountability. The projects presented in this phase are critically engaged with the ongoing state of colonialism in former empires such as the former French and Belgian colonies, where colonialism makes itself felt in multinational extractivism activities or national and international laws for newcomers.

The final exhibition and presentation of the collective research by the alliance of schools and academies from Belgium, France, UK and Hong Kong will be held at Thomas More University in Mechelen. This Transnational Alliance accompanies the Contour Biennale and focuses on discussing certain practices with the new generation of cultural and social producers and artists. Topics such as ecological debt, environmental racism, decolonizing social relations, degrowth, hope, care, and solidarity represent not only the content with which they work, but also the materials, techniques and methods of that work.

Enough Room for Space, Brussels, and Marjolijn Dijkman have been organizing LUNÄ Talks at the time of the full moon, in reference to historical Lunar Society meetings in the second half of the 18th century in England. Their talk for Contour will address the intersections between technology, infrastructure, extractivism and Silicon Valley culture, as well as the possibility of lithium replacing silicon as the key technological resource and element. The LUNÄ Talk is part of the On-Trade-Off research collective.

2019 marks 25 years since the Rwandan genocide. Christian Nyampeta has been engaged with the question of how to live together. Christian situates this question in post-genocide Rwanda. He will lead contemporary Rwandese poetry and philosophy readings inspired by the “evening school” format designed by the Senegalese writer and cinematographer Ousmane Sembene, along with a group of guests, and present his new film.

After a symposium co-organised with Netwerk in Aalst in October 2018, Daniela Ortiz will present her video The Empire of Law, a proposal for transforming colonial monuments and a testimony to the artist’s anti-racist activism concerning the European law for the newcomers.

Coyote is a cross-disciplinary group concerned with art, ecology, ethnology and political sciences. Their project from the root to the transplant will follow the entanglements between the concepts of grounding and transplanting and their historical, territorial, and political paths through a series of meetings, workshops, drifts and collective exercises with local groups of agricultural ecologists.


The Full Moon Phase programme//

On Your Knees You Will Receive the Anti-Colonial Spirit installation at nona arts centre | golden hall with: Daniela Ortiz

On-Trade-Off | LUNÄ installation at nona arts centre | golden hall with: Marjolijn Dijkman

The Wasp and the Weather installation at nona arts centre | golden hall with: Robin Vanbesien

Environments/Language as Magic as Language installation at nona arts centre | golden hall with: COYOTE

The Battle of Bobigny: A Spatial Report of a Police Tear Gas Attack installation at nona arts centre | golden hall with: Léopold Lambert

Black Gold installation at Mechelen Academy with: Cadine Navarro

A Flower Garden of All Kinds of Loveliness Without Sorrow installation at nona arts centre | golden hall with: Christian Nyampeta

Dutch Cabinet installation at Mechelen Academy with: Sara Sejin Chang (Sara van der Heide)

Common Dreams | Piraten van Dijle installation at Dyle Path at the Vismarkt with: Maria Lucia Cruz Correia

We Cannot Work Like This Assembly at Thomas More | Campus De Vest with: Transnational Alliance


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