A project with Kader Attia, Kristina Benjocki, Marcel van den Berg, Alexis Blake, Aslan Gaisumov, Quinsy Gario & Glenda Martinus, Yoeri Guépin, Gert Jan Kocken, Dana Lixenberg, Taus Makhacheva, Uriel Orlow, Pieter Paul Pothoven, Bert Scholten, Aimée Zito Lema, and guest curator Vincent van Velsen.
“No you won’t be naming no buildings after me
To go down dilapidated
No you won’t be naming no buildings after me
My name will be misstated, surely”
– Erykah Badu
Monuments, street names and national holidays are official forms that keep people and events in the public memory, turning public space into a physical archive. But memory and commemoration can be expressed in other forms, especially when it concerns people or events that are not necessarily represented in the public realm. No You Won’t Be Naming No Buildings After Me interrogated our physical modes of commemoration, while addressing different ways to pass on memories or reclaim historical events from denial or oblivion. Throughout, the human body is an essential medium for memory and a beacon of legacies lived.
The exhibition featured a series of live events, with performances by Alexis Blake and Quinsy Gario & Glenda Martinus, music events with Marcel van den Berg and Morabeza Records, and artist talks with Uriel Orlow and Pieter Paul Pothoven.
Voices on Vers Beton
In conjunction with the exhibition, online magazine Vers Beton published a series of interviews. Different voices from Rotterdam take us to city places entwined both with personal memories and the events they would like remembered.
Artists in the exhibition
At the intersection of visual art and choreography Alexis Blake worked with breakdance to respond to histories of empowerment associated with hip hop culture and to test ‘breaking’ as a freedom-claiming gesture. She designed a dance floor with glass elements and invited percussionists, a singer, and a group of B-girls for public rehearsals and two performances on vulnerability and strength: Sketch ACT ONE and ACT TWO.
In a new sound artwork, artist and contemporary troubadour Bert Scholten sang about forgotten Dutch traditions, in which the consumption of a body made of bread turns out to play a pivotal, ever-changing role.
Kader Attia’s film ‘Reflecting Memory’ looks at the connection between phantom pain and social trauma. His practice revolves around repairing history: making visible and caring for wounds that have failed to reveal practices and patterns of violence.
Together with the Theater of the Oppressed Group, Aimée Zito Lema used theatre techniques to investigate how memories are transferred from generation to generation and how we can become the bearer of other people’s memories.
Kristina Benjocki observes how multiple, sometimes contradictory memories and views arise as the distance of history grows. In a new textile work, she continued the weaving tradition of three generations of her family’s women, each of whom managed to survive radical histories.
A malleable perception of history was also the subject of Yoeri Guépin‘s work. Hiw film narrated how the ruins of the last imperial palace in China are retroactively subject to official and unofficial interpretations and appropriation by various ideological groups.
Gert Jan Kocken conducts meticulous research into the visual origins of laden histories. He reworked his map of Rotterdam, in which he combined a range of maps used by different parties during the Second World War into a complex matrix of the city during wartime.
Aslan Gaisumov lets found objects speak of the turbulent history of Chechnya. His installation of Soviet-era street nameplates testifies to various episodes in the ongoing battle.
Names also informed Uriel Orlow‘s ‘What Plants Were Called Before They Were Given a Name’. This sound installation recalls the rich indigenous knowledge of plants that was obliterated by European scientific and colonial expeditions.
Powerful language plays a prominent role in Marcel van den Berg‘s paintings. He takes inspiration from hip-hop, funk, techno, jazz, and reggae, music genres where the voice discloses inequality, injustice and racism, as well as pride and protest.
Pieter Paul Pothoven showed part of his long-term research into the motivations behind RARA’s (Revolutionary Anti-Racist Action) activism of the 1980s and 90s. In his sculptural installation, a historical façade is the key to an alternative perspective on RARA’s legacy.
Photographer Dana Lixenberg presented a selection from her celebrated ‘Imperial Courts’ project. Over twenty years, she created portraits of and with residents of Watts, Los Angeles, to document how they shape their lives in the face of stigmatising media coverage, the politics of segregation, and a lack of everything.
Taus Makhacheva‘s performance video stems from conversations with Caspian Sea fishermen about surviving its waters and their fear of disappearing at sea. Her work also reflects on the art world’s fascination with marginal stories, which are often reduced to simple anecdotes.
For more info about the works in the exhibition, download the exhibition booklet here .
With thanks to Mondriaan Fund and Stichting Stokroos.