Kunsthal Development Residency: Collaborative Speculation

“The only thing that is radical is space that we don’t know how to inhabit. This means space where we have to invent the ways to act and to live.”
Lebbeus Woods
Architect

From February 2020 to the end of 2020 the collective is hosted by Kunsthal Gent for a development residency. In these 3 months, the collective aims to build up artistic practices that transcend language and cultural barriers and address a broad audience. it also seeks to extend its network and knowledge on how to sustainably structure itself and its agency.

The group will work on the fields of speculative design, self-publishing, graphic design, performance/sound art, collective reading and viewing, cultural activism, and other artistic and critical practices.

PUBLIC PROGRAMME
The Post Collective offers free workshops, screenings, and public meetings in Kunsthal Gent between March and May 2020. Please join if you want to learn new skills, share stories and practices, want to augment your voice, and find new ways of expressing your voice:

– LUNCH ASSEMBLIES: COLLABORATIVE SPECULATIONS
Saturdays 22.02, 29.02, 07.03, 04.04, 11.04, 18.04, 13:00-17:00
Facilitated by Elli Vassalou, Sawsan Maher, and Mirra Markhaëva
The Post Collective is researching its own modes and conditions of collectivity and legal presence. How to design a collaborative environment regardless of the legal status of its participants? How to structure codes of conduct and build agency inside a group of people who do not only struggle with structural exclusions of race, class, and sex but also legal exclusions, citizenship, and human rights? How to surpass cultural barriers and create a safe environment of trust, commitment, and opportunities for all?

– VOCAL PERFORMANCE WORKSHOP
Fridays 13.03, 03.04,10.04, 17.04, 10:00 – 15:00
Conducted by Marcus Bergner
Visual work lead by Mirra Markhaëva
No previous experience required other than being prepared to use your voice and language in new and exploratory ways. We will create a chorus where participants can write and design their own songs for collaborative performing. After the introductory workshop (13.03) those who wish to continue will meet on a regular Friday basis to develop material for public performances. We will draw from the diverse musical, language, and poetical experiences of those participating.
The process will be documented by the visual representation of spoken sound by the use of different languages in their traditional calligraphies fused together. The letters will be done in lino cutting in order to create an abstract calligraphic ornament.

– PARALLEL PERCEPTIONS: a workshop on video walking
Friday 20.03, 10.00 – 15.00
developed by Elli Vassalou and Maya Dalinsky, with the insights of Christina Phoebe Thomopoulos
Since 2015, Elli and Maya have been making and researching video walking as a creative tool for community building, proprioceptive expression, group composition, environment-based art, participatory design, choreography, and counter-mapping.
On 20 March, together with Christina Phoebe and the post collective participants, they will explore the medium as another non-verbal tool of exploring collectivity.

– DESIGN A BOOK COVER WORKSHOP

Saturday 21.03 + Sunday 22.03, 10:00 – 15:00
Conducted by Hooman Jalidi A workshop open to all. Learn how to design and produce a book cover using the participant’s own illustrations, drawings, pattern making, collage, and handmade prints. Material such as paper, inks, and basic printmaking equipment will be provided.

– SCREENING ‘ON BELONGING’
Saturday 21.03, 15.30 – 18.00
introduced by Elli Vassalou
invited guests: Christina Phoebe Thomopoulos and Maxime Jean Baptiste
A dialogue between two filmmakers, the Post Collective and the audience. Screening of 2 poetic documentaries which merges questions of belonging, borders, and foreign-hood through dreamlike images and fleeting voices
– 15.30 introduction Elli Vassalou
– 16.00 “Nou voix” by Maxime Jean Baptiste (15′)
– 16.15 film fragments of Christina Phoebe Thomopoulos films
– 17.30 discussion with the audience

– ZINE WORKSHOP

Sunday 19.04 +Monday 20.04, 13:00 – 17:00
Conducted by Mirra Markhaëva
Open to all. A workshop about the designing and making of Zine publications.
Learn how to compose collectively a visual diary-like documentation, using your drawings, texts, and notes. We will work with the material created from the different workshops and art projects to create a small zine publication of our work together.

– FILM SCREENING – The Wasp and the Weather (2019, 19′, EN )
Wednesday 22.04, 20:00
Robin Vanbesien

In Robin Vanbesien’s new film poems ring out. At former youth centre Rzoezie, founded by young folks of Moroccan and Amazigh descent in Mechelen, some of the youngsters wrote poetry. Some of the original authors (M’Hamed El Ouali, Abdelhay Ben Abdellah) and contemporary poets (Samira Saleh, Mathieu Charles, members of the Post Collective) revisit, recite, and discuss these poems, probing their resonance in today’s social and political climate.

– ‘ON CO-ELABORATION’, study circle
Thursday 23.04, 10.30 – 18.00
with Robin Vanbesien, Vooruit, Ghent – Theaterzaal Foyer

The study circle facilitates an encounter of two artist’s collectives, The Post Collective and The Living and the Dead Ensemble, that both, through the exploration of storytelling, performance, and poetry, look for ways to compose new forms of alliance and common-ability. These are artistic practices that take up the role to reframe our gaze toward a work on co-elaboration. It is a work whose composition is continuously incomplete, ever to be sculpted – like a gift in the expanded present.

– COLLABORATIVE DRAWING WORK
ongoing
Conducted by Mohammed Tawfiq
An ongoing collaborative drawing that is open to everyone to contribute to producing a large onsite drawing work.



The Post Collective
is a young collective striving to establish an autonomous platform of co-creation, co-learning, and cultural activism created by and for refugees, asylum seekers, sans-papiers, and accomplices. 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. The collective arose from the ‘Open Design Course for Refugees and Asylum Seekers’ 2018 at KASK school of arts, Ghent (BE) when some alumni and teachers decided to continue working together.

The Post Collective are Mirra Markhaëva, Marcus Bergner, Elli Vassalou, Sawsan Maher, Mohammed Tawfiq, Hooman Jalidi and Kinda Ghannoum

Supported by: Kunsthal Gent, Stad Gent, Arts in Society Award 2019 – 2020, Refu Interim, KASK School of Arts

#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.

 

About That Magic Circle

“The meaning of existence comes in a full circle, where the journey of life ends another one begins.”
About that magic circle is a book by Hooman Jalidi. He initiated and invited a collaboration between himself and the participants of Open Design Course 2019 at KASK (School of Arts), Gent. Under one common theme – magical circle – Hooman curated and oversaw the creation of the book.

Open Design Course LAB version 0.3

Posters, catalogue and invitations designed by Kinda Ghannoum

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.”

The Wasp and the Weather

unnamed

the wasp and the weather’ is Robin Vanbesien’s new film that focuses on Rzoezie, a former youth center in Mechelen, Belgium. Rzoezie was founded and organized in 1978 by young people of Moroccan and Amazigh descendent. Inspired by Paulo Freire’s ‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed’, the center focused on education and organization by the youngsters, for the youngsters: bottom-up and from the inside. “Rzoezie” is the Arabic word for “wasp”.

In the center, the youngsters wrote poetry. These poems preserve to various extent the activist history of the moment in which they were written and dedicated to (1990-2000). In ’the wasp and the weather’, some of the original authors (M’Hamed El Ouali, Abdelhay Ben Abdellah) and contemporary poets (Samira Saleh, Mathieu Charles, members of The Post Collective) revisit, recite, and discuss these poems.

The vocal score ‘Twelve Words’ is a response to Rzoezie’s poetry by The Post Collective.  The performers of the collective – Fatma Alomrani, Muhned Bnana, Hooman Jalidi, Marcus Bergner, and Mohamed Tawfiq – improvise with twelve alliterating words in their mother tongue: Amazigh, Arabic, English, and Farsi.
 

’the wasp and the weather’ (2019) is part of an ongoing study of the imaginary which holds together self-organized social practices (starting with the film ’Under These Words (Solidarity Athens 2016)’ 2017).

Q&A

The premiere was on Sunday October 20th (20:30 – 22:00) and was followed by a conversation between the artist and M’Hamed El Ouali, Samira Saleh and Mathieu Charles, Abdelhay Ben Abdellah, Mirra Markhaeva, Elli Vassalou, Hooman Jalidi, Fatma Alomrani, and Muhned Bnana.

Photos from the Q&A at Nona by Daan Broos.

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?

CATCALL ME AGAIN

CATCALL ME AGAIN is a series of illustrations made by Markhaëva Mirra. It is an expression of disagreement and anger collected through years of sexual harassment endured by girls on the city streets and other contexts. Most of the time women undergo this unwanted attention from the men and do not respond, leaving the harassment unpunished and keeping negative feelings that are created by that. To express those feelings Mirra with help of her ODC comrades has come with several colorful, fun, and angry designs to put them on the streets in form of stickers and posters for everybody to see.

May 2019, The queer market – participation in the 1st Queer Pride Ghent 2019.

May 2019, Engagement Arts Fanzine Edition 1 May 2019, Brussels.

November 2018, Open Design Course for refugees and asylum seekers, KIOSK exhibition, KASK, Ghent.