Witte de With, Rotterdam, Netherlands
22 May 2015 - 16 Aug 2015


Jasmine Murrell, Immortal Uterus, 2014, courtesy the artist

Witte de With is hosting 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”?

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).

22 May – 16 August 2015
Opening: 21 May 2015, 5pm
Performances from 6pm