#Justice4ZakZachie!

Justice For Zak/Zackie Oh! 
Screening/Discussion/Exhibition ,15 February 2020 @Pianofabriek
Visual material designed by Mirra Markhaeva and Elli Vassalou.

On 21 September 2018 Zak Kostopoulos, an activist of the LGBTIQ+ movement, HIV+ and drag queen (Zackie Oh), was brutally assassinated in the center of Athens in public view. He was fighting against all forms of discrimination and violence. Zak/Zackie Oh was murdered in Gladstonos street by two ‘respectable’ shop owners and eight cops, under the eyes and the phone cameras of passersby. Almost nobody reacted to the horrible sight.

Zak/Zackie Oh had been attacked several times in the past and said in interviews that he was getting away because he screamed loud and run fast. On that day Zak/Zackie Oh was not lucky. Kicked to death he succumbed to the wounds caused by the violent beatings of the owner of a jewelry shop (where he was supposedly entered to steal, which has proved false) and the owner of a real estate company (who is member of a far-right group). The Police then mistreated Zak/Zackie Oh who was lying on the ground, his face full of blood. He was transferred to the hospital handcuffed, while he was most likely dead.

After 16 months of unjustified delays and flaws in the investigation and disciplinary procedure and an unprecedented operation of covering up the murder, misinforming the public and re-victimizing the victim, the two shop owners and four Policemen have been prosecuted for negligent manslaughter (and not voluntary homicide).

The Greek justice has estimated that those who have beaten and handcuffed a helpless man bleeding on the pavement have killed him by negligence. This is an insult to Zak/Zackie Oh’s memory and goes against commonsense justice. We stand with his family to demand justice for Zak/Zackie Oh. We don’t forget, we don’t forgive, we are not afraid. We will keep on fighting against homophobia, fascism and “normality”. Our lives matter!

The event is supported by CADTM Belgique, Campagne ROSA, Zin•Tv, De Pianofabriek Cultureel Centrum.

Visual material for the Protest Justice For Zak, Long Live Zackie Oh! that took place at Bours, Brussels at 21 October 2018, Queer Pride Ghent and Pride Brussels 2019.

 

Invitation

Lecture-Performance, 30′

Radical Imagination, Integrated 2019, Biennial International Arts & Design Conference, 5-6-7 November 2019, DeSingel, Antwerp
https://integratedconf.org/

Who we are:
We are members of the Post Collective or POCO for short. We are artists, designers, activists, students, social workers, teachers, researchers etc. We formed the collective just under a year ago from the 2018 Open Design course for refugees and asylum seekers conducted at KASK in Gent. This course is a groundbreaking educational initiative that allows those who would not usually have access to education institutions and resources, namely refugees, asylum seekers and sans papiers, to develop over a period of three month skills and knowledge across a range of floss software, peer to peer learning activities, design making and co-creation projects. Our collective arose out of the wish to continue working together after the completion of the course and to continue developing possibilities for co-learning and co-working directed towards establishing a sustainable and collaborative platform for all the collective participants, regardless of their legal status.

 

We Invite you.
As our opening piece demonstrated in a rather vocal way we invite you as the participants of this conference to join us in thinking about, discussing and implementing our collective aims and aspirations. Not just at the conference but into the future and especially in regards to our three month residency at the Kunsthal in Gent. One of our fundamental aims is to build a environment where people like us do not need to struggle to be assimilated but instead are able to begin to rethink and re-conceptualize critically a future where the identity of the refugee is celebrated and valued; and as Hannah Arendt argued “to become the vanguard of their people.” It is usual to’ invite’ refugees into one’s world and society but the collective is about reversing this mindset and of inviting you to participate in our world and our project. The collective seeks to forge ongoing connections and modes of exchange with a range of other groups, individuals and organizations.

 

What needs are there?
It’s crucial for the collective to achieve a level of participation in society and the local communities and not just fill in the gaps of representing diversity and token inclusion. To achieve this we aim to bring about a situation where refugees, asylum seekers and sans papier are able to access resources and levels of agency that are usually denied them.

We are here to find allies and accomplices, to advice and support in accessing such resources, facilities and instigating these forms of agency?

Collective action
That we are a collective rather than another type of group or organization is significant. For one thing it indicates the importance of an equal level of involvement and participation by all its members in the all processes of co-production and co-management. A collective provides more fluid and open capacities for exchange with other organizations, institutions and individuals. 

It calls for collective action towards accessing resources and employment for its members and also of actively advocating and working towards bringing about increased access to resources and levels of agency for the broader community of refugees and sans papier.

The paradigm
Giorgio Agamben in his 1993 essay ‘Beyond Human Rights’ refers back to Hannah Arendt’s article “We Refugees” to argue that the role of the refugee in today’s world provides ‘a paradigm of a new historical consciousness. ‘  He explains that “ if we want to be equal to the absolutely new tasks ahead, we will have to abandon decidedly, without reservation, the fundamental concepts through which we have so far represented the subjects of the political, Man, the citizen and its rights, but also the sovereign people, the worker, and so forth) and build our political philosophy anew starting from the one and only figure of the refugee.”

Co-working Speculations

Transnational Alliance of schools: We Cannot Work Like This

Contour 9 Biennale  Assembly at Thomas More – Campus De Vest, Mechelen
18 May – 19 May 2019 12:00 – 17:00

The cross-disciplinary alliance We Cannot Work Like This: Decolonial Practices and Degrowth brings together several departments of academies and universities in the region in Belgium, France, England, and Hong Kong, and enables that students work together in each of their schools on a proposal for sustainable, decolonial and inclusive practices in relation to, on one hand, cultural institutions, and on the other, their own professions (artistic, architectural, design or research-related). The students are invited to look at sustainability through the self-reflexive, intersectional feminist, anti-capitalist, and anti-racist lens. The participating professors prepare a joint curriculum and discuss it with the students in each of their schools. The aim of this alliance is that it stirs interest in the creation of a legal document or charter that would promote sustainable and decolonial practices for the institutions and for the practitioners themselves.

Members of the Transnational Alliance are HISK (Ghent), Department of Architecture, Hong Kong University (Hong Kong), St. Lucas School of Arts (Antwerp), School of Architecture at the Royal College of Art (London), Royal Academy of Fine Arts (Antwerpen), Thomas More University (Mechelen), Ecole de recherche graphique (Brussels), Ecole européenne supérieure d’art de Bretagne (Rennes), Open Design for Refugees and Asylum Seekers, KASK (Ghent).

Opening statements 

The Open design Course for refugees and asylum seekers is an educational platform based on peer to peer learning and co-creation taking place at KASK, Ghent. The 2018 generation of participants invite you to a speculative presentation of the course, as well as to imagine a post O.D.C future. Taking the next step, the POST COLLECTIVE grew out of the 2018 version of the course. It continues to try to develop possibilities for co-learning and co-working directed towards the building of a sustainable and collaborative environment for its participants, regardless of their legal status. The handout provided today explains some of the goals and aspirations of The Post Collective.

The Open Design Course began in 2016 by the initiative of Bram Crevits. This initiative was approached as a way of trying to formulate an answer to some urgent needs: but mainly as a way to offer support for an unseen influx of people fleeing war and seeking refuge in Europe. Due to regulations of higher education it was (and still is) almost impossible for most of these refugees to start or to continue their studies as ‘regular students’ within the Belgian education system. The ODC initiative is intended to create a space within KASK, where it is possible to bypass the technical/administrative restrictions, to welcome refugees and asylum seekers, and provide them with a high-quality learning context.

As well as being a specific initiative taken for refugees and asylum seekers the course reflects the broader project of rethinking education and which is something that the ODC team is working towards and actively involved. The perspectives and motives that were behind the setting up of ODC are closely intertwined forms of dissatisfaction with education / or higher education. For it was felt that higher education is mainly organized to further sustain and reproduce this system, by mainly focusing on ‘innovation’; in order to further support a logic of endless economic growth. This is not only about pedagogy and content, but also the way higher education is governed and financed. In the same way, art education (and even art in general) is not immune to this logic of reproducing a failing system. But here some hope is possible – as a way of offering unique opportunities to fight or overcome such failings. Bram Crevits and the team that continues now ODC believes that there was an urgent need for a type of education that brings together different voices from different fields and that might be used towards activating change within society generally. Bram Crevits wrote about the origins of ODC: “It was thought that a school can and should be an open tool for society. Schools should resist by all means to reproduce the system we feel trapped in, i.e. by what they focus on and by the way they organize themselves.” Bram also stated “But as long as we can overcome our fixation on the identity of the artist, and on what art has been or should be, institutes of higher art education could be the ideal context for this -combining theory and practice. Critique and creativity. Creation and reflection. Art education should challenge itself and urgently needs to re-invent itself.

To activate as much as possible what art education is good at being a place of creation, of imagination, of constructive experimentation… but at the same time a place of resistance and of dialogue. To further activate art as the collective conscience of our society. And what is needed now is not a silent conscience, but a highly engaged conscience ….”  

P E R F O R M A N C E 

“The form of the poem is like the form of a new public sphere, as the structure of a new idea. Looking for forms in the arts is like looking for new standards of what we may regard as a society, power, and so on.”

-Paolo Virno

 

After the performance, we initiate a 20-minute discussion with all those attending.

_the idea of the post collective was already born inside ODC_

The Post Collective offers an autonomous platform for co-creation, co-learning, and cultural activism for refugees, asylum seekers, sans papiers, and invited participants. It seeks to introduce a range of artistic, cultural, and employment opportunities as well as provide an overall collaborative environment for the participants regardless of their legal status

We at the post ODC collective believe that it is essential to create an environment where people like us do not struggle to get assimilated but strive to rethink and reconceptualize critically a future where the identity of the refugee is celebrated as Hannah Arendt would say: as “the vanguard of their peoples”, people who can think beyond the limits of the nation-states constructions, where “history is not a closed book to them”. for this to happen these people deserve a level of participation in the society that is not just filling in the gaps of representing diversity but allows them to take active control as stakeholders. 

The agency and existential empowerment of the individual “arise only when people act together” and, as such, the collective seeks to forge ongoing connections and modes of exchange with other groups and organizations. 

This call allows us to ask questions and to do the inviting rather than just getting invited to be present. As Tania Cañas would stress “This is a conceptual shift from working for the community, and not even with, but as a community.” 

We should have a number of points and questions ready that we can use to initiate discussion if need be. Important is to try to bring Post Collective and ODC into comparison/relation to the goals and methods of The Alliance and the different issues raised at Mechelen.

How members of the alliance can take action and provide space for research, exploration, and partnership for such projects to exist and to not stay in the margins of education/art and design? Mention the Kunsthal application maybe? Also the example of the post collective teaching in the next ODC 2019.
How institutions can help a project as the post collective to find its way?
Is there someone in the alliance with expertise in financial management? Is there a legal status that can help us develop the post collective as we imagine it? Should it be an art project or an organization? Speak about the idea of Mirra of organizing workshops of exchange.
Taking on the example of the critique of the silent university where the power it created was monopolized by the most recognizable, already with agency members -How can we distribute the power but also seek support from powerful allies? 
How do we deal with the black or invisible work of those sans papiers? Are there sustainable alternatives?
As an individual, you cannot have access to education if you do not have legal papers, but you can get a visa if you are accepted in a school. Is there a way through this for sans-papiers to gain legal status and proceed in higher education? How could we create such solidarity hacks?

Sawsan Maher

Sawsan Maher is a Syrian researcher, activist, philosopher and designer.
She studied Philosophy and social science and specialised in political science .
Her passion to find communicative tools to connect academic humanities and activism activated her great interest in design and methodology.

Kinda Ghannoum

Kinda Ghannoum was born in 1991 in Poland, she is a Syrian/Polish graphic designer coming from Damascus. She graduated from the faculty of Architecture in Damascus University. She worked as an Architect at the beginning of her career, and as a volunteer with many NGOs and startups in Syria. She participated in the second Startup Weekend in Damascus as a graphic designer and her team won the first prize. She will start her master degree on Graphic design in Saint Lucas Antwerp on September 2020.

https://www.behance.net/kindaghannoum

Mohammed Tawfiq

Iraqi. Current residence, based in Gent, Belgium.
Studied graphic designs at Arteveldehogeschool.
Drawing, painting, photography, animation, graphic work, performance.
Mohammed’s work was presented to the larger public in the past year. In Kiosk, the gallery linked to Kask Ghent, he exhibited the animation “Liquid of life” with ODC (Open Design Course). This work was shown again in Thomas Moore, Mechelen, during “We can not work like this”, a project in collaboration with Contour.
Together with the Post-ODC collective he participated in two sound poetry performances, among others in Kiosk. He worked on photography, painting, graphic and drawing on assignment, among others for Constant vzw, Association for Art and Media, based in Brussels.
You can find other projects he worked on online, the images are clickable and show a whole spectrum of his artistic creative work. https://www.behance.net/tawfiqmoha58c3

Syntrofi “An Invitation to Dine on Privilege”

Participatory lunch performance produced with the School of Love for the “Exercises in Awareness” program, “Women and Children First” festival, Vooruit, Ghent | January – February 2019.

Syntrofi [σύντροφοι] is a Greek compound word – coming from feed [trofi] and together [syn] – which translates to: “companions, comrades, lovers…”

Syntrofi takes on a perspective of a vulnerable observer, who looks into art and education institutions from within the position of the marginal and the excluded. Around the lunch table, the audience and performers will become Syntrofi. Personal stories on privilege will be served, chewed on, and digested through the conversations and engaged togetherness that acknowledges the complexity of contradicting desires.

This project was first initiated in 2017 by Elli Vassalou and developed within the School of Love [SOL]. In this iteration, Syntrofi will be co-created and performed by the School of love and The Post Collective members: Yared Yilma, Elli Vassalou, Hazal Arda, Weronika Zalewska, Adva Zakai, Martina Petrovic, Marcus Bergner, and Sawsan Maher.