LATEST NEWS!

ONGOING GRATITUDE to the MONDRIAAN FUND , the AMSTERDAM FUND for the ARTS , CBK-Zuidoost
and Stichting Stokroos for their generous support!
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2019, 12 December
Patricia’s Sunday Night LIVE

I’ll be a guest on Patricia’s Sunday Night Live radio programme on Salto, local Amsterdam radio, on Sunday Decemeber 15th at 9pm. Talking about my installation Nr.1 Tourist Attraction in the Amsterdam Museum, and what inspires and drives me in my activist-artist practice. It will be in Dutch. If anyone wants to tune in live, here’s the link https://www.salto.nl/stadsfm/
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2019, 27 November
POLISH NEWS
A Polish news site in the Netherlands has published an article about my exhibition in the Amsterdam Museum. Click here for the link.
Here’s what Gggle makes of the Polish:
“What’s behind attraction # 1 in the Netherlands? Red Light District – prostitution, violence, human trafficking

It’s almost a must on the tourist map of Amsterdam. The Red Light District. A paradise for lovers of sex entertainment, a curiosity for tourists. And in the background – prostitution, violence, fear, exploitation and human trafficking.

An attraction with the taste of forbidden fruit in the center of the capital of the Netherlands. Medieval De Wallen, with narrow streets, crossed by canals. Illuminated with thousands of red lanterns and neon lights at night.

Hence the name – Red Light District. Tourist attraction number one Amsterdam. A must-see for every foreign trip. About 2.5 million tourists come here every year.

Behind the scenes of this tempting world in which male prostitutes have recently appeared, in addition to women, we prefer not to look. Because there is violence, ruthless exploitation, fear, despair. And human trafficking.

(We wrote about this dramatic phenomenon in the article The Netherlands: Human Trafficking – it’s worse than you think)

Dark side of attraction 1
From November 1, 2019 at the Amsterdam Museum you can see the exhibition of the artist Jimini Hignett under this name – “Nr.1 Tourist Attraction”. The creator takes us back to the Red Light District. Unsparingly and without mercy.

The exhibition is a kind of artistic installation, consisting of films, unique self-portraits of sex industry employees, souvenirs that we can buy at De Wallen.

Hignett talks about exploitation, hypocrisy, double standards and human trafficking.

Souvenirs and confidences of prostitutes
If you look at the exhibition, you’ll see about 200 items – souvenirs that every tourist can buy in the Red Light District. Of course, connected with the erotic industry.

And all the symbols of prostitution and sex – literally or not – are smoothly woven into the traditional souvenirs, which we usually bring from the Netherlands. Clogs combined with giant phalluses, and nude women with bottle openers and windmills.

Right next to the video installations. Authentic confessions told by actors, testimonies of women (and one man) practicing prostitution in the Red Light District. How did they find themselves in this “industry”? What led them to De Wallen? What kind of life is this – being an object for use standing in a window?

The artist painted each of the people he talked to with special portraits. On paper, gray bags applied to the heads. Rather, they resemble medieval hoods of convicts or instruments of torture. Symbols of something that we are afraid to name.

It is a provocative, not easy (contrary to appearances), liberating difficult emotions exhibition. In this way, the Red Light District has not yet been shown.”

Practical information
the exhibition at the Amsterdam Museum will last until March 1, 2020.
address: Amsterdam, Kalverstraat 92
open daily from 10.00 to 17.00
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2019, 20 November
BOYCOT
Despite the call to boycot the Amsterdam Museum for showing my installation Nr.1 Tourist Attraction there are still a nice lot of visitors going to see the exhibit – on until March 1st 2020.
Until I make the separate page for this project, here are a few pictures…


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2019, 18 November
NEWSWORTHY!
And on it goes… there is even a film on Youtube protesting the my installation in the Amstedam Museum and calling for a boycot! Interesting to note that of all the people that have something to say, it would seem that none of them are actually working as ‘sex workers’, in the specific prostitution sense of the word… Make what you will of that…


The whole topic is an incredibly important one which requires discussion on a deep and serious level, and there is a plethora of information out there which can all go to support my views on the topic of ” rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”>Nordic Law versus decriminalisation. For those interested learning more on those views you could read this interview, or simply buy a copy of A Small Collection of Innocuous Objects (see Books page). then, for the information that formed those views, you can click your way through the links in the footnotes (!) If you prefer a shortcut, just go straight to nordicmodelnow.org
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2019, 15 November
ARTIST/ACTIVIST
In order to encourage debate on the topic, the museum is developing a programme which includes different points of view on the subject of the sex industry, prostitution and legislation.

The first event programmed was yesterday – Artist/Activist. The auditorium was filled, with people at the back having to stand as there were no more seats. On the panel along with myself were Patricia Kaersenhout, Matthijs de Bruijne, Elke Uitentuis and Quirine Lengkeek.

(Photo credit Facebook page Annemarie de Wildt)

Following Annemarie de Wildt’s lecture on the history of fine art imagery of prostitution, attendees went to view the installation before returning to the auditorium for the debate on Artist/Activist.

(Photo credit Facebook page Annemarie de Wildt)
A number of people involved with the sex industry were quite vociferously present and it was not long before the debate became focussed on the issue of prostitution legislation. The discussion was very heated, but (thanks to Margriet Schavemaker’s strict moderation) remained reasonably polite. Afterwards they set up a chant of Human Rights are Sex Workers’ Rights – couldn’t agree more! In fact, when the debate dissolved into smaller groups, opposing parties managed to agree on quite some of their aims, despite their differences.
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2019, 9 November
ONGOING PROTEST
Apparently one or two die-hards are continuing to protest outside the museum.

(Photo credit Facebook page of Alexis Wilson Briggs)
If only all this energy could be spend campaigning for something really worthwhile… Like trying to get all the councils in the Netherlands that have a prostitution policy in place to also instigate programmes to enable those who want to exit…
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2019, 3 November
AIR at CBK ZO
Museum Night at CBK Zuidoost with the opening of the annual AIR group exhibition.

The other artists in the exhibition are: Ephrem Solomon Tegegn (Ethopie), Maga Berr (Peru/NL), Lebohang Tlali (ZA), Valerie van Leersum (NL), Sander Troelstra (NL) and Hili Greenfeld (ISR)
I was invited to give an artists talk about my series of Prostitution Monologues, great that so many people stayed until almost midnight to hear it.

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2019, 1 November
Nr.1 TOURIST ATTRACTION!

What a lovely evening yesterday’s opening was. Here are a few photos, (mainly of the visitors not of the work!)


Thank you to everyone who came.

And special thanks to Jolanda de Boer who gave a speech and Sally who came from far to receive the first Dutch copy of my new book.

My mum got the first English one, which made her cry, aaaah.

Then she and Elise manned the sales table….You can see where I get my cheeky grin from!
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2019, 30 October
A SMALL COLLECTION OF INNOCUOUS OBJECTS
My new book, A Small Collection of Innocuous Objects, has arrived on time to accompany the exhibition Nr. 1 Tourist Attraction in the Amsterdam Museum.
It’s available in English or in Dutch (Een kleine verzameling onschadelijke objecten). As well as the collection of souvenirs from the Amsterdam Red Light District, it has the stories of eight survivors of prostitution in the Netherlands.

The wonderful design was done by Marit van de Meer.

The exhibtion is open from November 1st and runs until the end of February 2020.

To order a copy of the book please go to BOOKS.


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2019, 29 October
COUNTDOWN
Counting down… only a few days to go until the opening. Friday was a moment of panic as it seemed as though all 13 screens would have to be switched on by hand, not only first thing in the morning but every 4 hours, which would have been impossible… Luckily, this morning everything had switched itself on – phew!

My mum and Elise are here from the UK and were set straight to work tie-ribbing all the postcards to their racks so that people don’t think they’re there for the taking.
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2019, 28 October
BYE BYE BELLE
Unfortunately the responses concerning my work Belle Revisited, a sculpture carved from a huge tree trunk which was inspired by the tiny bronze statue of Belle on the Oudekerksplein threatened to overshadow any larger debate concerning prostitution in general and Dutch legislation in particular. This discussion became so heated that, together with the museum, I decided that it would be better to not include the sculpture in the installation, in order to avoid the debate being derailed.

The consternation came from people connected with the sex industry who understood that my point of view was in favour of the Nordic Model (possibly because of the online interview I did in Kosovo).
The information about the installation which was on the museum’s site prior to the opening, was so brief that it was possible for them to (wilfully?) misinterpret my intentions with the sculpture, and, in an attempt to get the museum to close down the whole exhibit, they insisted that Belle Revisited is an incitement to violence against sex workers. Of course it isn’t! That’s like saying that a film which shows a man beating his wife is an incitement to all men to beat their wives – precisely the opposite, by showing these images it is drawing attention to the harsh realities of what goes on behind closed doors. Having seen how tourists blythely snap selfies alongside the original statue – which shows a strong, independent ‘happy hooker’ in a bronze doorway – taking away an image that for me shows only one side of the business, I wanted to get show something beneath that surface and to visualise the very real pain suffered by the real women on display in the real windows of the world’s red light districts. I invited a number of people to carve a heart and/or their initials into the body of the sculpture. The act of carving one’s initials into her body conveying complicity in, (through our complacent acceptance of,) the pain that is inherent to the prostitution industry.
Anyway, after a lot of discussion we decided that the installation is strong enough without the inclusion of the sculpture, plus, her absence gives more space for the reading table and discussion corner – which at this rate we might well end up needing!
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2019, 26 October
SHOCKING…?
The last few days have been very hectic, not simply because of getting this exhibition on the road but because since a couple of days ago members of the PIC and/or PROUD have been targetting the Amsterdam Museum, CBK South-east, me (and possibly others) with emails trying to get the exhibition closed – even before it has opened!

In one sense it’s great that they are so concerned about the effects that a work of art might have, on the other hand it’s annoyingly time consuming to have to be worrying about carefully formulated answers to their online onslaught.
They are even planning to pass the museum on opening night with a demonstration against the installation… Oh well, No such thing as bad publicity, as they say!
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2019, 23 October
LOOKING GOOD
All the tv-screens have been hung up and all the vitrines are in place, and now I actually really like the mix-and-match aesthetic of the way that they now mirror the tied together socles…


A happy accident – though I could have done without the stress of the mix-up!
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2019, 19 October
MISMATCHED!
The vitrines and socles arrived yesterday, carefully selected (several times because of not up-to-date information) from the website of the place that stores all the museum’s extra exhibition stuff… But when the stuff was unloaded from the lorry it turned out that almost nothing matched! The socles almost all too small, and the glass caps almost all huge – how am I supposed to fit an 80 x120cm glass cap onto a socle measuring 33 x 27cm! Panic…

Spent today figuring out how to solve the problem and came up with this genius idea (even if I say it myself) of binding the tiny socles together so that larger caps can fit onto them.
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2019, 18 October
SPRAYTIME
Hoping my postacrds survive their spraying with fireproofing liquid…

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2019, 17 October
PAPER PLAN
So… the videos are with the Museum’s techie guy, and the book PDFs are off to the printer, everything bang on time! And now I have to concentrate on the installation of the work in the Amsterdam Museum. Making a plan, on the kitchen table, how to fit videos and vitrines into this long narrow space…

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2019, 16 October
SIN MUJERES…
Patricia Kaersenhout just gave me this lovely present, a little purse made by one of the female Zapatistas- Sin Mujeres No Hay Revolucion – Without Women there is no Revolution – damn right!

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2019, 14 October
STERN WITNESSES

Spent the best part of a day with Rose’s help, fixing all the self-portrait masks to the rafters in the museum where they look down from on high sternly observing the whole process. I hope they are not displeased!
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2019, 13 October
STOKROOS!
Hurrah! Just heard from the Stokroos Foundation that they are going to give some financial support to enable the production of my new book, A Small Collection of Innocuous Objects, that will be part of my installation, Nr. 1 tourist Attraction which opens October 31st in the Amsterdam Museum.

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2019, 23 September
PROOF READING
Taking a ‘break’ (ha ha) from editing and subtitling videos to proofread the first complete PDF of the book design which Marit van de Meer has made. Note to self: a book in two languages doesn’t just mean twice the printing costs, it also means twice the editing and proofreading!

Sorry for the crap photograph!

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2019, 20 September
44 Minutes!
‘Henry is edited, but oh dear… the first, already massively cut, version of ‘Sally’ is still 44 minutes!

Back to the editing table…
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2019, 8 September
COMPLEX CHARACTER

Special monologue recording today – the script is ‘Henry’, the only man I have so far interviewed who has is a survivor of trafficking into the Dutch sex industry.

He was sent to people’s houses to have sex with white women, often blindfolded so that he could not see her face, whilst the husband looked on…

The reason this monologue was not recorded earlier is because I could not imagine the right actor for this part. I didn’t want to simply switch gender and skin colour, as we are so used to this being a woman’s story I felt this would undermine the uniqueness of it.

In the end I asked my beautifully androgynous looking old friend Markha… she took a long time to think it over but in the end she decided she wanted to do it, and even managed to find time in her hugely busy agenda.

Thank you Markha!
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2019, 3 September
BACK PAGE
In all this writing and editing (I am on final version number six of the souvenir collection texts) I totally forgot that the back cover needs a text too… Add that to the Urgent list!
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2019, 30 Augustus
RACE to the FINISH
Recorded ‘Sally’s story’ with actor Eli Thorne…

Great actor, happy I went with my intuition about him.

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2019, 16 August
CUT & PASTE
Determined to get one last video made in time for the installation in the Amsterdam Museum… This one’s a challenge, I interviewed Sally (not her real name) over a year ago, and the interview was eight-and-a-half hours long… the transcription – almost 59,000 words – has been ongoing in fits and starts since.

Just started the work of editing it down to a script-seized text. Impossible to oversee in the computer so I have resorted to old-fashioned paper, scissors and sellotape cut and paste. Little piles of paper paragraphs, sorted by topic, covering the whole table. I have an actor in mind… I haven’t met him, just seen videos. He has a curious face, somewhat elfin which can be innocent and cunning in equal measure. I’ve put myself under pressure by booking the studio and him… though I still have to sort out the script!
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2019, 7 August
ENDLESS SUBTITLES
Trouble with more videos is that it means more editing, more translations and never-ending subtitles!
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2019, 28 July
EDITING ZANDPAD
Been editing Zandpad Revisited with Hens all this week… looking good!


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2019, 18 July
SHOOTING
Shooting the video of Zandpad Revisited yesterday, all went well. Cameraman, sound-man, catering, ten extras for carving.

We were lucky with the weather though the sun went behind the clouds a couple of times it stayed dry and more or less light. Very curious to see the results.
The sculpture has now been delivered to the oxygen-free room so that she will be allowed into the museum. She has to stay there for a few weeks in order to kill off any lurking parasites!
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2019, 8 July
CARVING
The statue has been in the studio since the base got finished and people have been visiting for me to take pictures of their hands carving their initials.


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2019, 7 July
PHOTO STUDIO
Spend four whole days, non-stop taking photos of all the souvenirs on first a white, and then a black background for the book. Set up a huge roll of white paper, and then a black velvety cloth, and had to buy some special lighting.

Of the 180 souvenirs about 80 will make it into the book and into the video/slide show. Pffff, a huge job, but pleased with the almost professional looking results.
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2019, 12 June
ZANDPAD REVISITED
Went yesterday with cameraman Wiro Felix to check out the Zandpad again as filming location…

He was not so happy with it as it’s ugly (granted) and will be difficult to film circling around because of all the nasty industrial tanks in the background. Also, trees are going to cause difficulties with shadow if we are to work in the couple of hours before sundown. He has a great wee camera, really tiny, that can record onto his phone. The site as yet still unbuilt though it has been levelled and there are some skips lying about. Fingers crossed!
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2019, 7 June
CHAINSAW GANG
Early start to spend all day with Huip at his workshop to carve a new base for Belle Revisited…


More work than I had envisaged… (isn’t it always!)
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2019, 4 June
TOTALLY CRASS
This T-shirt leaves me speechless…

(Sorry about the bad photos, just using my phone…)
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2019, 28 May
CAN’T RESIST!
Although I surely have enough souvenirs for the exhibition in November, I couldn’t resist these…

The brothel depicted on these tiles has an interesting name…. The word Lichtekooi most probably comes from the words meaning ‘lightly to berth’ as in easy to get to bed with, and was used to refer to the women. Still, it’s quite a humorous name for a brothel, if one is in the mood to find such things funny.
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2019, 27 May
MOUSE MATS!

Mouse mat… That’s a first! The combination of texts, Red Light District and Dutch Girls makes a careless combination, making it sound like all Dutch girls are available.
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2019, 24 May
ADDICTIVE!
I suddenly understand the urge to collect things… nipping into souvenir shops to see if there is any choice item of tourist paraphernalia I had not yet come across is becoming addictive! Still it provides a very welcome excursion away form the computer where I am otherwise heads-down editing the five videos recorded at the beginning of the month.
Here are a couple of choice items…
Hard to know if the designer is taking the Mickey with this one! Sunbathing on the blades of a windmill… In the Red Light District…?!

Got the association right this time though with the phallic bollard… and these are either twins or else it’s a kind of before-and-after fridge magnet.
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2019, 12 May
NEW ZANDPAD
On the road all day yesterday scouting a location for the video I want to make showing people carving their initials into the wooden sculpture. Decided that context was more important than aesthetics and so went in search of a meaningful location. First stop was the G.J. de Jonghweg in Rotterdam, a ‘toleration zone’ for prostitution frequented mainly by drug addicted women, and where a serial murderer killed at least five.

Secondly went to Nijmegen where there is one of the few remaining officially recognised zones for street prostitution is coupled with a so-called ‘afwerkloods’ – translates roughly as ‘finishing-up shed’ – an empty warehouse in which plywood partitions have been installed so that sex-buyers can drive in with their cars to ‘finish up’.

The signs outside, hung high on the walls presumably to avoid derogatory graffiti, explain that, other than police and health workers, entry is limited to “street prostitutes and their customers”. This is followed by instructions, “Drive at walking pace and follow the driving direction. Park your car in the finishing-off area and switch off the engine. Deposit waste in the bin and leave the finishing-off area clean. In the shed it is forbidden to: shelter or take a break; use drugs or alcohol; sell drugs or other goods; cause (noise) nuisance.” I hoped to find out who was in charge and to see if it would be possible, for a fee, to record the video actually in the garage, during the day when it was not in use, but the local policeman passing on his big, just laughed and saying he didn’t know who to contact and the it was obvious what I needed to do, just go there at night when it was open. No thanks.

Last location was The New Zandpad in Utrecht. The old Zandpad was the location of a number of Red Light houseboats which were used for window prostitution. The city was forced to close the site in 2013, due to extreme violence and ongoing exploitation. The sex industry, then campaigned to re-open the site, and consequently a patch of land has now been designated for the building of a series of new ‘windows’. Construction on the new site has, however, been delayed as the companies vying for the rights to ‘manage’ the new brothels failed to satisfy the demands of the Bibob laws pertaining to criminal activities such as exploitation. At present it is a building site, totally unaesthetic, but I have the feeling this is the right place to shoot the video. Hope it’s not all built up too in the next few weeks!
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2019, 4 May
BIJLMER STORIES
Been in the studio all week recording four of the Bijlmer stories and one other short but emotional testimony. Two stories are going to have to wait until the actors I want to work with are free, as this week was a school holiday, so people were away.
Kaisa Pohjola comes from Finland and her accent made an interesting combination with the story of a woman from Madagascar.


This was the first time working with someone from the USA, and i was worried that the accent would be disturbing in a non-constructive way, but Harmony Shaikin performed wonderfully and the accent was not a distraction at all!


Matt Carney comes from the North of England and is a proper actor. I thought it would work best with native English speakers as the African sentences and grammar were going to be tricky for anyone for whom English was already a step removed.


Thom Driver is a fellow artist and got landed with the longest text… all about Shell Oil’s bad behaviour in the Niger Delta… I’m hoping I won’t be forced to cut too much of it to keep the video within limits.


Another artist, Rosie Heinrich, who studied at the Dutch Art Institute in the same time I was there. Extremely perfectionist… I’m going to have my work cut out for me editing all those takes!
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2019, 25 April
SOCIAL COGNITION
Invited by department head and fellow abolitionist Sheetal Shah to lecture yesterday at the Webster University on Leiden to a group of psychology students for their Social Cognition class.

Photo by Koen
Wonderful mix of nationalities, including two Nigerian students which prompted me to change my presentation at the last minute and show the video monologue based on the testimony of a Sengalese ‘sex-workers’ rights activist and prostitution survivor. Interesting to hear foreign students’ first reactions to the Dutch system and the red light district.
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2019, 18 April
STRANGE BEDFELLOWS!

Yesterday there was a presentation by Per-Anders Sunessen, the Swedish Ambassador charged with Combatting Human Trafficking during which he presented, and then took questions on, the ‘Nordic Model’ – whereby it is the purchasers of sex who are prosecuted rather than those selling it. The organiser, Renate van der Zee, had asked if I could help find a location in the Red Light District, and so we ended up in the hall of the Salvation Army, with a rather stern portrait of Majoor Bosshardt looking on.

Prior to the Ambasssador’s talk one of my Prostitution Monologues was shown to the assembled crowd, which well superceded the 50 people we had expected.
Afterwards the ambassador asked if he could have a copy of the video to show when he travels around promoting the Swedish model… Yes of course! This is precisely how I hope my work can contribute to political change – art-activism in the best possible way… very happy indeed for it to travel with him.
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2019, 30 March
TRAFFICKED MAN
Today was the first time I encountered a man who had been trafficked for sex with women. Another incredibly moving story. He was very brave to overcome his fears and embarassment and come to speak with me.


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2019, 27 March
MISSING PIECES
Today I had the feeling there are pieces of her story she has deliberately skipped over… either from shame, or from fear…

In my role as interviewer it must have been easy for her to feel like I am trying to set a trap, like the authorities that have interviewed them… yet I feel I cannot challenge them on the truth of the tale, or dig harshly into parts they want to remain silent about… still, it sometimes leaves me with a story that has so many missing pieces that I will not be able to work with it.

Despite her reticence with the story, she was happy to make a mask and be photographed wearing it.

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2019, 20 March
AMAZING OPTIMISM
‘Queenie’ has managed to keep a huge smile and amazing optimism, despite having been betrayed on so many levels – by the grownups who were supposed to care for her, by the man who supposedly loved her, and by the Dutch judicial system which has meant she has spent 27 years in the Netherlands, first as a captive trafficking victim, and then, failed by the system, as an undocumented immigrant unable to build up her life.
She likes to read and would love some English books, those I can provide, so we will meet again soon.
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2019, 19 March
LIMBO
She studied medicine and worked as a matron in the hospital until when her eldest child died as the result of burns when her house was deliberately set on fire, and then the woman whom she was staying with was shot… Here in Amsterdam she is undocumented and her skills not put to use, she cleans houses to survive, and to send money back to help her two daughters finish studying. Even with her mask on she was afraid to have her picture taken.

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2019, 15 March
GUIDED TOUR
Tomorrow Rosalie van Deursen will be giving a guided tour of the exhibition Free Radicals at CBK-Zuidoost…


These great pictures of my videos showing there were taken by Les Adu.
(c) CBKZO/Les Abu
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2019, 10 March
TOO MUCH HARDSHIP
She came to me after she’d been to church today.

Despite everything that’s happened to her – trafficked at the age of 16, lost a baby, her son lost an eye due to cancerous tumor, the insecurity of undocumented life – she has still emerged hopeful and strong, hoping to train as a nurse once her papers are in order.
Her mask looks shocked and young, the terrified 16 year old arriving in paradise only to discover hell.

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2019, 9 March
NO HAPPINESS
Today I listened to a very sad story, a woman tricked into sex-slavery by a Dutch man promising to marry her.

Her whole life seems to have been misfortune after misfortune. And when I asked her what was the happiest moment in her life, she was silent, and finally said, that no, she could not think of one.

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2019, 8 March
WOMEN’S DAY IRONY
Today is International Women’s Day and I went on two women-related outings – first to the Amsterdam Museum to catch the exhibition 1001 Women of the 2oth Century, before it ends in a few days. And secondly, how ironic… to some tourist shops on the edge of the red light district where I found some new souvenirs to add to my collection for my upcoming installation in that same museum.

Ashtrays… Fun for whom, we might ask…

Glasses with windows allowing you to view the woman once you’ve drunk up… One with an impossible thin waist, the other with a few more kilos on her, presumably catering to the S&M market – does this reflect something in the real world, does a prostituted women end up having to turn to S&M business once she has gained a few kilos (or years)?

Happy to have found this glass as it it has one of the few images of punters in my collection, two in fact, both looking horribly unsavoury – one with beer belly and beer, the other louche in an old mac.

Lastly two new fridge magnets, that section of the collection is really expanding.
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2019, 7 March
AIRPLANE TO HEAVEN
Today the second interview with a trafficked woman with connections to the Amsterdam Southeast. When ‘Ocean’ took her first plane flight, she imagined she was going to European heaven in the hope of providing a better life for her four children. Instead she was trafficked into a hellish life being passed from one brothel to the other between the Netherlands and Germany. It has been 14 years since she last saw her kids.

Her mask has both teeth and tears, anger and sorrow.

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2019, 6 March
BIJLMER SURVIVORS
This morning the first interview with a trafficked woman connected to the Bijlmer, let’s call her Joy – not her real name, she needs to remain anonymous. A tragic and harrowing story, but she has managed to find strength to keep going and support not only her three children here in the Netherlands, but her other four in Nigeria.
I think some of that determination speaks from the self-portrait mask she painted.

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2019, 1 March
NEIGHBOURHOOD ETIQUETTE
Wonderful sign in the stairway of my BijlmAIR flat. Very p.c. in terms of colour, but gender bias… hmmmn… no women are doing anything naughty, but they are busy cleaning!

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2019, 28 February
BIJLMER!
Starting my residency at BijlmAIR – thanks to CBK-Zuidoost – and looking forward to working on my new project Number One Tourist Attraction!
This is the view from my workspace…

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2019, 3 February
TALK at CBK-ZUIDOOST
Yesterday’s talk during Free Radicals at CBK-Zuidoost was very well attended and a good discussion ensued. Here are some photographs of the discussion, and of the audience watching my video works.


Thanks to CBK-ZO for the photos.
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2019, 28 January
ARTISTS’ TALK
Coming Saturday together with other artists from FREE RADICALS – Tyna Adebowale, Patricia Kaersenhout and Ephrem Solomon Tegegn – I will be be talking about my work during the Kunstcafe at CBK-Zuidoost (Anton de Komplein, metro BijlmerArena). Presenter will be is writer/journalist Babah Tarawally. Entrance is FREE!
2 February from 3-5pm.


2019, 26 January
GOOD START
2019 off to a good start with sessions in the studio recording the last two monologues of the current series. With the quintessentially English Philippa Collin, and natural talent, Karoenja Woudenberg.


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2018, 31 December
FREE RADICALS in JANUARY
Looking forward to being part of the FREE RADICALS exhibition at CBK Zuidoost.

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Poster designed by Victor Levie and Marit van der Meer
Opening Saturday, January 19, 2019 from 3pm – 6pm at CBK Zuidoost, Anton de Komplein 120, 1102 DR Amsterdam
Exhibition runs until March 2019. Closes 30th March withperformance Mariëlle Videler.
Curators: Rosalie van Deursen (Urban Africans) and Renske de Jong (CBK Zuidoost)
Artists: Tyna Adebowale (Nigeria), Raul Balai (NL), Stacey Gillian (Uganda), Jimini Hignett (UK/NL), Patricia Kaersenhout (NL), John Kamicha (Kenya), Ephrem Solomon Tegegn (Ethiopia) and Mariëlle Videler (NL).
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2018, 27 December
ENDLESS EDITING
Spending the end of the year editing the recently recorded Prostitution Monologues. Here’s a still from Yael
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.2018, 28 November
‘ARTIST ABOLITIONIST’
In connection with Handle With Care at Kosovo 2.0 in Pristina, I was interviewed by Cristina Marí resulting in this in depth article… thank you!
Photo:_Majlinda Hoxha / Kosovo 2.0
ONE-ON-ONE | SEXUAL VIOLENCEJIMINI HIGNETT: “IN THE SEX INDUSTRY, WE NEED TO PROSECUTE THE BUYERS”
By Cristina Marí – 26.11.2018

http://kosovotwopointzero.com/en/jimini-hignett-in-the-sex-industry-we-need-to-prosecute-the-buyers/?fbclid=IwAR0VqQ2rAvO22GndN-FgYQgDz0I2m5njzqzDw-UE8qvtYaGrhXgjHY_LXZ8
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2018, 20 October
MOVING ON
Handle with Care will be on its way to other cities in Albania, so today Patricia and I had the last morning of discussions with the panel of local experts, students and other interested parties.

The best gathering yet, lots of passionate audience comments, and at last the men are speaking out too.

Watching one of the video testimonies together with the audience had many people in tears.


Will be leaving Tirana feeling satisfied that the work has stirred things up a bit, and that prostitution and trafficking will perhaps no longer be such taboe topics.

Photos are by Edi Prifti.
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2018, 19 October
DISCUSSING PROSTITUTION
We are receiving daily visits from students and other young people at our installation Handle With Care in the National Historical Museum here in Tirana.

Each day a different panel of speakers involved in some way with the issue of trafficking and human rights brings their expertise to the discussion. We have a Dutch public prosecutor specialising in trafficking, the director of the refuges for survivors of trafficking, chief ombudswoman, and many others.


It’s hard to get the students to speak out, especially the boys, but once the microphone was turned off there was a lot of discussion, and it was clear that the stories have affected them, and that awareness about this issue had been raised.


Tomorrow we will have our last group of visitors before the intstallation moves on to Shkoder, Berat and Vlore, then, after that to Macedonia and Kosovo.
Photos taken by Edi.
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2018, 17 October
OPENING TIRANA
Handle With Care opened in Tirana tonight. The Dutch embassy suported this project and the ambassador was present to open the event.


The ambassador also kindly encouraged the rather reticent Albanian audience to join her in sitting on the carpet of red, worn women’s clothing, made by my colleague Patricia Kaersenhout, to watch three of the Prostitution Monologues as performed by wonderful Albanian actresses Erjona, Ema and Raimonda, who had me, as well as the audience in tears with their moving performance.


Photos taken by Edi (whose surname I don’t know!)
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2018, 16 October
HANDLE WITH CARE
Back in Tirana with Patricia Kaersenhout to install our exhibition Handle With Care in the National History Museum…

Lots of technincal complications but at the end of the day everything looking really good.

Nice to have space to display so many self-portrait masks, each one painted by a survivor of trafficking.

2018, 14 October
IT’S a WRAP!
The last of this run of recordings, today with dancer/perfromer/artist Alice Pons in the studio, performing the sad story of ‘Day-of-Joy‘…

The final video will be shown (with others) at Free Radicals, which opens in the CBK- Zuidoost, in January 2019.
The extended series can be seen in the Amsterdam Museum toward the end of 2019.

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Thanks to the Mondriaanfonds for supporting this project!

2018, 13 October
3-in-a-ROW…
Working for the first time with a performer who is not deliberately dis-similar to the protagonist being portrayed…. Oliva who is Hungarian and pregnant, performing the gruelling testimony of a pregnant Hungarian woman survivor of trafficking…

The final video will be shown (with others) at Free Radicals, which opens in the CBK- Zuidoost, in January 2019.
The extended series can be seen in the Amsterdam Museum toward the end of 2019.

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Thanks to the Mondriaanfonds for supporting this project!

2018, 12 October
EXTENDED FAMILY
In the studio with the extended family to film a second Albanian story – a fifteen year old trafficked and sold to men in old-people’s homes… My ex-step-son Joep Meilof in front of the camera and son Flint taking over from Hannah assisting. Another very satisfying day!

The final video will be shown (with others) at Free Radicals, which opens in the CBK- Zuidoost, in January 2019.
The extended series can be seen in the Amsterdam Museum toward the end of 2019.

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Thanks to the Mondriaanfonds for supporting this project!

2018, 11 October
GREAT STUDIO DAY
Wonderful day in the studio today for another round of recordings, this time with multi-talented singer/actor/song-writer Easy May Walker performing the script taken from the testimony of Senegalese womens’ rights activist.

The final video will be shown (with others) at Free Radicals, which opens in the CBK- Zuidoost, in January 2019.
The extended series can be seen in the Amsterdam Museum toward the end of 2019.

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Thanks to the Mondriaanfonds for supporting this project!


2018, 23 September
MARATHON
And the last of this marathon weekend of recordings, with super-young actor Tex Fonds who did a wonderful job of interpreting the story of a young Senegalese girl who an away from her abusive aunt… out of the frying pan into the fire.

Three of the final videos will be shown at Free Radicals, in the CBK- Zuidoost,in January 2019.
And the extended series in the Amsterdam Museum toward the end of 2019.

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Thanks to the Mondrianafonds for supporting this project!


2018, 22 September
TEARS
Day two, with British actor William Sutton, who managed to move me to tears with his performance of a Dominican woman’s testimony.

Some of the final videos will be shown at Free Radicals, in the CBK- Zuidoost,in January 2019.
And the extended series in the Amsterdam Museum toward the end of 2019.

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Thanks to the Mondriaanfonds for supporting this project!


2018, 21 September
DANIEL
In the studio for the second of this series of recordings… this time with French actor, Daniel Rovai performing a tale of violent misogyny in northern Argentina.

2018, 20 September
BACK in the STUDIO
Recording another of The Prostitution Monologues – one of the testimonies from trafficking survivors from Albania, in the studio with Tara Margo.

2018, 30 August
The PROSTITUTION MONOLOGUES
Hurrah!
The Mondriaanfonds has honoured my application for funding for my ongoing project, The Prostitution Monologues. So the coming months will be fulltime busy making eight videos of the stories of prostituted women from Senegal, Paragay, Dominican Republic, Albania, Rumania, Argentina and the Netherlands.
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2018, 27 July
PUBLISHED PIECE
Nice that my piece about the research in Senegal has been published in the current issue of BK-Informatie magazine for artists. (in Dutch)

2018, 20 July
FORCED BY NECESSITY
Phew! That was the longest interview ever… eight-and-a-half hours! So far the only testimony from a woman of Dutch origin. An eight-and-a-half hour waterfall of recollections which spread like a delta of tributaries before rejoining the main topic.

Her mask is a fantasy self-portrait, she explained it thus: one half brain, the other half heart, both are hurt, both are crying, and the voice has been silenced.
We had met one another at a symposium in an academic setting in Amsterdam. She had been one of the subjects of the research being presented there. During a round of audience questions, she spoke out, condemning the research, (which was slanted to provide ammunition for the pro-prostitution, decriminalisation lobby), as superficial and thus inaccurate. Her comment went something like this, ‘I don’t know who all you spoke to for this so-called research, because we can call ourselves lucky that we are part of the two percent who have supposedly ‘chosen’ to do this – although as I see it, forced through necessity is also forced. All those other women, you don’t get to speak to them. I can hardly find a way to exchange two words with them, so you certainly didn’t. And without their voices, this whole presentation is just nonsense.’ The microphone was swiftly passed to someone else. But this comment, particularly coming as it does, from someone who still finds themselves in a situation of prostitution, hits the nail on the head – exactly whose voices is it that we are hearing when we are told that ‘sex workers’ have supposedly been included in the debate or decision-making process?
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2018, 11 July
SURVIVORS of TRAFFICKING
Have managed, here in Albania, to interview five survivors of human trafficking, with the aid of an interpretor. Each individual story both heartbreakingly personal as well as encompassing many of the standard elements of abuse, lack of support, unplanned pregnancy and violence… but above all, abusive, callous, misogynistic men…

Here is one of the young survivors painting her self-portrait mask so that she can be photographed anonymously. At the last moment she decided to add a crown, to make herself a princess – beautiful!

2018, 9 July
RELICS of COMMUNISM
Our work Handle With Care is to be installed in this magnificent building, the National History Museum. Opening date, sometime in October, to conincide with international anti-trafficking month.

(Thanks to Jona Dividi for the photograph.)
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Everywhere there are relics of Albania’s once die-hard communism still visible in Tirana and the surrounding countryside.

Wayside monument to the ‘resistance’…
And what appears to be the old Socialist Party headquarters (if my non-existant Albanian is to be trusted!) now crumbling.


2018, 7 July
PREPARATIONS in TIRANA, ALBANIA
In Tirana Albania with Patricia Kaersenhout to prepare the ground for the revival of an enhanced version of our joint installation Handle With Care.

2018, 15 May
1st INTERNATIONAL ABOLITIONIST CONFERENCE
Very honoured to have been invited to present work at this important international conference in Buenos Aires, the first of its kind. (Abolitionist as pertaining to prostitution, for those of you who weren’t clear.)
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As part of the symposium on Prostitution and Trafficking in Europe, two videos from the ongoing series The Prostitution Monologues, are being shown, as well as a shorter video introducing the topic op trafficking and a video introducing me and my work. Delighted to be in such good company – the other names on the Friday evening programme are Ingeborg Kraus (psychotherapist specialisig in trauma), Amelia Tiganus (survivor, activist, founder of femicidio.net), and Angela Vallina (member of the euopean parliament).
If you’re in Buenos Aires on Friday night, May 18th, you can check the conference’s Facebook page for details.
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web roze-85px My current project, with the working title Collapse of Justice
is supported by the Mondriaan Fund.
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2018, 14 April
MAGIC WOMAN

Today a different kind of visit… to a woman who has, or at least channels, magic powers. One of the Lebou fisher-people. As well as performing ceremonies to appease the sea gods, she also throws cowries as a guide to giving device about which sacrifices are needed to asuage maleveolent spirits.
The skills are passed down the generations and the little girl next to her is the child expected to follow in her footsteps. Girl-power in a society where women are relatively powerless.
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2018, 13 April
2 x BARAK OBAMA!
Wonderful wall-of-fame at the photo-lab to print photographs to distribute to my collaborators.
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And two more random street signs…
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2018, 12 April
ISLE de GORÉE
A rare day with no commitments so a day spent on a touristy outing to Isle de Gorée with its dark slave-trade history – now an overabundance of souvenir touting women with baskets of beads or young men with maracas, but also no cars, beautiful colours and crumbling architecture.
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2018, 11 April
CITY LIFE
Although after only three weeks, things which at first were so surprising have become commonplace – children leading blind beggars to beg from car windows at traffic lights; horses and carts on the multi-lane highway; blue and yellow car-rapides belching black smoke around their conductors hanging on to the ladder on the back; sheep that look like goats, tehtered by one leg under a washing line full of brightly coloured clothes, chewing on cardboard boxes, in the middle of the city; the amount of plastic rubbish disfiguring the landscape is still horrifying.

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2018, 10 April
ON THE ROAD AGAIN…
Back inland for an interview with a woman for whom, ultimately, prison has meant some education and a chance for independance on her release. She now batiks and dyes fabric and also teaches these skills to other disadvantaged women.
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2018, 9 April
YEARS IN CUSTODY
Despite all the copies of passports, official applications and assurances, I have still not had any direct contact with the prison authorities nor any indication that permission is imminent. Somewhat frustrating. Nevertheless, I have managed to interview lots of other women this week. Women who have been forced through poverty to sell their bodies in order to buy food.
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Others have been imprisoned for up to 5 years for having an abortion or a stillbirth and had been reported to the police by neighbours. Some of these women were even later declared innocent having spent years in custody awaiting trial before being sent home.

2018, 7 April
BOABABS UNDERFOOT
My neighbourhood is called Baobab, after teh national tree that is aid to be growing upside down, its roots in the air, its branches to the ground, supporting the world, and occasionally, where the pavement is not red sand, rubble, or mosaic of broken bright coloured tiles, there are sections paved with appropriate baobab paving stones.
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2018, 5 April
STILL WAITING
…for permission to interview women inside the jail. Meanwhile each day we have had a visit from a woman who is part of And Soppeku, a group helping (often illiterate) prostituted women to understand their rights, and with information about HIV…
Stories and masks.

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2018, 1 April
BACK IN DAKAR
There is a message from Mami, who was to translate for me, she has had to go to Abuja for an ‘urgence’. Abuja turns out to be in Nigeria… so I am are left without an interpretor and have to cancel today’s planned interview. Instead, I go to take photographs of the outside of the Ancien Palais de Justice on Cape Manuel peninsula.

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2018, 31 March
GOODBYE DIOURBEL
The end of the course is a sad moment, they have to return to the rejections and cruelties of their regular lives. For many of these women it will have been one of the most enjoyable weeks of their lives, and I feel very lucky to have been there to share it with them and touched that they have shared so much with me. Here are some last photos from the town – roadside stalls selling, among other things, dried animal parts to be used for magic…
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2018, 30 March
TRANSLATOR IN TEARS
Aissatou is the indefatigable initiator of this project, and she arranges for me to record each of the women’s stories, as well as translating for the ones who speak no French, only Wolof.

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The stories are heart-rending and although Aissatou has heard them before, she is often brought to tears.

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Many of the women accept the proposal of painting a self-portrait mask, but some are too shy to share their unfamiliarity with a brush.

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Thanks to Hannah Manneke for the extra photos.

2018, 29 March
MAGIC
My hotel is the white building on the right. The room has crumbling plaster and cockroaches, but there are fancy curtains and a view of the beach!
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As the women have to concentrate on their ‘instruction’ in the mornings, there is time to dawdle, going through the street where there are all kinds of items being sold for use in ceremonies or magic charms.
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There are lots of wonderful painted signs.

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The prison is next door and the main door-guard wants his photo taken.

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At the end of the week there is a diploma ceremony and the director of the prison is invited.

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At least half of these women have never learned to read or write and this is the first diploma they have ever received.

2018, 28 March
OUR STREET
A lot of activity – dish washing, cauldron-boiling, etc. – takes place on the sandy area in front of the building, and even across the road, where there is leafy shade from a tree and a kind of temporary lean-to that is used as an extra on-site ‘office’.
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The street has a constant coming and going of hawkers of all sorts, people on their way to market with things to sell, and people looking for a hand out.
The building seems to have acquired a personal beggar who now sits in the same spot at the roadside in the burning sun, receiving an occasional helping of leftovers heaped on a sheet of cardboard torn from a box of tiles.

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2018, 27 March
SEATING ARRANGEMENTS
The women have to move out of the cultural centre, which is needed for Independence Day rehearsals. The project has received funds from the US embassy to build their own one-room building on the corner next to the prison and the inauguration is to be today, with deputies from the embassy coming to check that their money has been appropriately spent. More lime juice is prepared, the produce so far is put on show, and there are best dresses…
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IMG_3100… and a lot of waiting whilst the delegation finds an appropriate place for a toilet break as the centre’s toilet was initially built in the room, as opposed to as an add-on, so it had to be demolished and is being re-built but is not quite finished. Indeed all week there are builder’s mates in cementy work shoes traipsing back and forth to provide materials to the masons, tilers and plumber.
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Once the US delegation has left, all the chairs have to be returned to the cultural centre, so, in return for all their kindness and help with my project, I contribute a dozen chairs. These are sent by horse-taxi from the shop to the centre.
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2018, 26 March
PROJECT PRISON
There are ten women, ex-prisoners from three different prisons. This course is to teach them to turn seasonal fruits of vegetables into saleable products that can be kept longer, for sale out of season. When I arrive they are making orange juice, peeling ginger for ginger drink, and preparing hot chilis for sauce. Unsure is photographing them is ok, I take only pictures of their working hands.
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At first, most of the women are quite withdrawn and most of my contact is with the numerous entourage of people who work either for Tostan – the NGO that set up the project – or else in the prison, as wardens or as social workers.
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Only very few of the women speak French, the rest only Wolof, so we are limited in our communi- cations. I draw a few of the women in order to remember their names.
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Lunch is cooked in the corri- door of our hotel and arrives per taxi in huge aluminium bowls. These are dished out onto huge aluminium communal plates around which 5 or 6 people sit dipping in with their fingers or a spoon. Couscous with fish and hot onion sauce – a recurring theme.
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2018, 25 March
HEADING INLAND
After only three days in Dakar, headed inland to Diourbel where I have been invited to visit the first in a series of Project Prison, a project is aimed at helping women who have been incarcerated to become self-sufficient when they return to life outside the prison.
On a friend’s recommendation a taxi is called for, the railway has ceased to work, and by the intersection where we leave the motorway toll-road and turn inland, there are piles of uprooted rails and sleepers.
The route continues along the main road heading East from Dakar.
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All along the roadside there are village women plying their wares.
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These photographs were taken from the window of the moving taxi.
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Beautiful baobab trees.
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Herds of cows alongside the main road, and…
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… horse driven carts.
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Lots of great shop signs – marabouts,…
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… hairdressers and beauty parlours.
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Plastic rubbish is a HUGE problem!

2018, 24 March
DAKAR !
First three days, and already seem to have got lots done. Today, unexpectedly, an initial meeting with the director of a ‘Sex-workers’ Rights Organisation’ turned into a first interview for the Collapse of Justice project and for the ongoing prostitution monologues. She talked for so long that we had to arrange for her to come back another day to paint her mask… so no pictures yet!

2018, 10 March
READING, READING, READING!
In preparation for my research trip to Dakar I am reading all kinds of interesting articles and wonderful books by Senegalese authors.
Reading-matter
(Thank you Mondriaan Fund for supporting this project!)

2018, 27 February
HUMAN TRAFFICKING
Tomorrow evening I will be doing a short lecture performance as my contribution to a evening about human rights and human trafficking, in CREA, Amsterdam (Nieuwe Achtergracht 170), starts at 8pm.
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There will be two other speakers on the panel with me.
Click here for more info via the FB event

2018, 18 February
THANK YOU !!
Logo downloads EN web rood
Just received notice that the Mondriaan Fund have responded positively to my subsidy application for support for my research project plan with incarcerated women in Dakar, Senegal – yeah!!! More on this plan soon.

2018, 11 February
INTENSE ENCOUNTER
My very last days in Buenos Aires I met up again with someone I encountered in Chaco during the women’s gathering. We spent an intense afternoon and evening talking and recording their very moving life-story.
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The mask that was painted has beautiful bright red lipstick!

2018, 15 January
NEW INTERVIEW & MASK
Step by step my circle of contacts is widening, and last week I was able to interview another survivor of prostitution, and current activist, who is visiting Buenos Aires from another province. Today she returned to paint a self-portait mask.
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Her dream is for a world without prostitution, a world in which land is distributed more equally, a world in which she will have time, away from the abolitionist struggle, to learn to paint pictures, of the mountain landscapes surrounding her home.

2017, 20 December
GIANT PENIS!
I received this new fridge magnet for my collection of red-light souvenirs from a friend here in Buenos Aires who had bought it in Amsterdam with me specially in mind…. What a funny surprise!
Below is the provisional catalogue entry.
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Collection item nr.74: Fridge magnet: This row of faceless, interchangeable white women, differentiated only by their hair colour, posing as if being tortured, with their hands raised permanently above their heads, their legs cut off by a row of condoms, emphasising their bare buttocks. The condoms, in contrast to the undistinguishable women, are multi-coloured and form a festive streamer – Prostitution is fun… a party! To the sides, the women are framed by a dark column and an enormous, erect, brown penis which dwarves the women, hanging over them, hemming them in. Its dark colour and size refers us to another cliché, that of the oversized black member, and is a reminder of the exoticisation of black bodies of both sexes.

2017, 16 December
NEW INTERVIEWS & MASKS
Just arrived off a 14 hour bus journey back from another province (Argentina is so huge) where I met with Elena Moncada, author of the book, Yo Eligo – contar mi historia – who also introduced me to two other women, survivors of prostitution, with whom I spent the day talking and painting self-portrait masks. Mask-SantaFe-1
Now to start the huge job of transcribing the interviews…

2017, 30 November
SPEED READ
Prostitution in 25.000 Words – for the man in a hurry.
I finally found a copy of this little book. It’s one of an endless series, which includes Slavery in 25.000 words, and Capitalism in 25.00 words!
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2017, 19 November
BELLE IN BITS
Blimey…! Trying to get my sculpture, Belle Revisited, back from Buenos Aires to Amsterdam is proving incredibly difficult… I have already sawn her in half (!!!) to be able to transport her from storage in one friend’s house to another, but still the dimensions are too big, and it’s too heavy, to be checked as extra luggage, even if I pay through the teeth… belle-pedazos-(1)Other airlines make exceptions up to 45kg (which is what the body weighs) as long as you pay. Musical instruments, cellos and the like, can simply be bought an extra seat… but so far I haven’t found a way to persuade dear old KLM…
Shipping her (I can’t bring myself to say ‘it’) would be the obvious option, but all the customs papers would add up to more than simply flying my friend Gabriel over and paying him to help me make another one! I might have to take an extra trip back and forth with a more amenable airline, pfffff! Meanwhile, her upper body is standing proudly in the corner of my room whilst her legs are lying on top of the kitchen cupboard!

2017, 15 November
FIELDWORK FRUSTRATIONS
My mum, who is aware of the difficulties of pace (or lack of it!) in my work with women in situations of prostitution, whose lives are mostly precarious and thus it is often difficult to actually arrange anything, so that much of the time it looks like I am producing nothing at all despite feeling I haven’t taken a break in months… sent me this quote from the Innocent Anthropologist by Nigel Barley:
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2017, 18 October
32nd ENCUENTRO NACIONAL de MUJERES
AS part of my ongoing research into the issue of prostitution, I joined the National Gathering of Women in a town called Resistencia, in Chaco, an under-resourced northern province. Over 60 thousand women! Very empowering. The town opened up the schools so we had somewhere to sleep, and there was free public transport. Thank you Chaco! There were over 70 different workshop topics each day, as well as presentations and performances, everything organised totally non-hierarchically. I participated in the one on prostitution.
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2017, 4 October
WORKING ON ‘THE PROSTITUTION MONOLOGUES’
Having spent the lat months transcribing, translating, editing the recordings I made with survivors of prostitution, to produce scripts, I have finally been in the studio these last weeks with the actors. Performing these latest scripts from The Prostitution Monologues, my ongoing series of videos with testimonies from survivors of prostitution are Tom Pasman and Yael Grunwald, reading the stories of women from Hungary and from Dominican Republic.
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Huge thanks to Martijn Grunwald, and to Carlos at Teater Munganga, and Phronaise Jacobs at Pakhuis De Zwijger, for their generosity in helping this project.

2017, 21 September
HAPPY FAMILIES
I think this pack of red-light district Happy Families cards is an appropriate image for what will be an intimate presentation in a domestic setting.
On Monday, October 1st, Amsterdam, there will be a last chance to see something of my recent work from my ongoing project on prostitution before I return to Buenos Aires to continue my research there…
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If you aren’t on my mailing list for invites, send me a message to receive details.

2017, 28 March
ONGOING RESEARCH IN BUENOS AIRES
Working in Buenos Aires with survivors of prostitution here. Finally managed to arrange a first, long interview this week. And this afternoon, a lovely self-portrait mask session. mask2
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2016, 21 October
TODO SIGUE IGUAL (BUSINESS AS USUAL)
Para CASTELLANO… CLIQUEAR AQUI!
The solo exhibition Todo Sigue Igual (Business as Usual) revolves around the theme of prostitution as a worldwide phenomenon promoted by an industry that earns huge sums of money from the use (abuse) of women’s bodies.
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In Amsterdam, brothel-keeping was legalised in 2000, cleverly packaged as part of a liberal, forward-thinking attitude toward sex in general, and the antipathy of prim moralism, this move reinforced the country’s dubious honour of being the torch-bearer for liberalised prostitution laws and consolidated its reputation as a centre for sex-tourism. The exhibition uses video, photos, texts, and sculpture to navigate the haze of subtle propaganda concerning prostitution – imagery that promotes and reinforces the view of the prostituted woman as the self-reliant, strong, independent, ‘happy hooker’ – a notion that makes perversely clever use of the feminist principle of female autonomy whilst protecting the sex-industry’s interests and preventing us from seeing the very real pain and distress that exist.
Museo de la Mujer – Pasaje Dr. R. Rivarola 147, Buenos Aires

November 2016 – Tuesday – Saturday 15-20h
and on Museum Night – October 29th, 20-03h

CLICK HERE to SEE MORE about the exhibition.

2016, 23 September
WORKING ON BELLE REVISTED
Working in La Plata with Gabriel Adrian Piñero to carve a sculpture for my upcoming exhibition in the Museo de la Mujer in Buenos Aires, opening 29th of October.
Now that it’s starting to become visible what this tree trunk will become, it’s time to explain what the sculpture is about… Belle Revisited is a replica, a response to a smaller statue which stands in the centre of Amsterdam’s infamous red light district. The original is entitled Belle, and portrays a prostituted woman standing in a door frame – strong, self-sufficient and in control – sex-industry propaganda, the lie of the so-called independent sex-worker.
I am making a life-sized reproduction in wood will be life sized, and visitors to the exhibition will be invited to use a knife to carve their initials, and perhaps a heart, into the body of the sculpture – indicative of the very real pain suffered by the real women in the world’s red light districts.
The statue is also a response to a remark in Albert Londres’ book The Road to Buenos Ayres which so strongly influenced European perception of Buenos Aires in the early 2oth century as the centre of the so-called ‘white slave trade’. Londres scornfully suggests that a statue should be erected to the French prostitutes, as having supported the construction of the city more than anyone.
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Off to the Museo de la Mujer in Buenos Aires

2016, 26 May
IN DAKAR, SENEGAL
Now you can read the BK-blad article (in Dutch) about my visit to Dakar with Patricia Kaersenhout to present Handle With Care in the residency of the Dutch abassadeur there.
Click here for the link: Handle With Care, Dakar
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2015, 27 May
HONEY TASTING EVENT in MILAN
Yesterday was the honey tasting event with experts which Doris Denekamp and I organised as the culmination of our residency at CareOf in Milan.
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As well as the honey tasting, where we invited experts to determine the origins of the different honey we presented them with, I also read aloud from Simon Ings story from out book If Bees Are Few… in, occasionally hilarious, mispronounced, Italian. I can now have a conversation in Italian, as long as it is on the subject of bees and honey and nothing else!
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2015, 22 May
BACK IN ITALY
with Doris Denekamp to close our period of residency at CareOf. Arranging a honey-tasting event, meeting honey-tasters, and preparing the map to anonymise the locations or the origins of the honey we collected. One woman is a professional honey, wine, olive oil and water taster, whilst others are simply apiarists who have developed a this as a side-line.
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2015, 30 March
LAST DAYS IN DAKAR
On my free day I went sightseeing to Gorée, the island with a terrible slave trade history.
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As well as the Slave Museum this, wonderfully car-free island is now also home to an artist colony, many of whom live in these disused wartime bunkers.
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2015, 30 March
SPECIAL VISITORS
The Dutch embassy has been great in arranging for various groups to visit our exhibition. These included groups of women survivors of prostitution who are organised and helping one another, including running a soap factory to provide cheap soap, as washing clothes is one of the few ways to earn money for uneducated women who can no longer rely on their families. Here wit their back to the camera for anonymity´s sake.
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Another group were disadvantaged girls from a school in a difficult area of the city.
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2015, 26 March
´UNDERWEAR AMBASSADOR´!
Woken by a phone call from the Dutch ambassador this morning to inform me of a radio interview he held to discuss the exhibition and which has earned him the nickname of ´The Underwear Ambassador´ in the Dutch tabloid the Telegraaf!
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Luckily that´s been balanced by a good, long, intelligent review by a woman journalist, in Dakar paper today. dakarreview

2015, 24 March
PRESS
Short review (in French, obviously), in Dakar newspaper, the main news today being that the ex/president´s son has been sentenced to jail for six years.
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2015, 24 March
OPENING of HANDLE WITH CARE in DAKAR
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Big crowd for the opening yesterday. And the performance went really well, two of the women had even learned their texts by heart!
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2015, 21 March
INSTALLING HANDLE WITH CARE in DAKAR
Last couple of days spent installing this work, made together with Patricia Kaersenhout, in the residency of the Dutch Ambassador.
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The wood (to protect the floor from the staples holding Patricia´s carpet down) was delivered, and sawn, by hand.
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Patricia and I took turns stapling the carpet down.
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Adding some extra names to the embroidery cloth for the performance at the opening.
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Finally finished subtitling the videos in French…
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Exhausted and taking a nap in the heat of the day!
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2015, 18 March
FINAL REHEARSAL!
The last rehearsal for the live try-out performance of the Prostitution Monologues.
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The actrices have made some changes to the French translations, for which I am very grateful.
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Also, after a heated discussion, they decided it would be best to scrap the part which could construed to imply that the village priest was complicit, rather than accidentally responsible, for passing one of the women into the hands of the traffickers. The discussion was heated because it two of the women wanted the church to be implicated, whereas the others thought it would be detrimental in that often the church is the only place a woman in danger can go.
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Whilst recounting their individual stories the women will be embroidering a white cloth with Senegalese women’s names. A reference to the white headscarves, embroidered with the names of ‘the disappeared’ which the protesting ‘Abuelas del Plaza de Mayo’ in Buenos Aires wear.
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They decided to embroider their own names as well.
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Mami was concentrating so hard she accidentally stitched the cloth to her dress!dakarrep3

2015, 15 March
REHEARSALS
All the efforts of the last weeks translating scripts into French are coming into fruition…. Rehearsed today with wonderful Senegalese actrices for the first live performance of some of the Prostitution Monologues.
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Meanwhile our wonderful fix-it man, Cheik, has quietly made dinner for everyone!
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2015, 13 March
IN SENEGAL
In Dakar with Patricia Kaersenhout where we have been invited by the Dutch Ambassador to install a version of our work ‘Handle With Care‘ in his residence. First few days figuring out logistics, and, as I don’t feel I can photograph people, instead taking shots of the beautiful signs which are everywhere…
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2015, 6 March
OPENING at CARE/OF MILAN
Our installation Mappa Sensoriale di Milano, in collaboration with Doris Denekamp as part of our residency at CareOf in Milan for The Grand Domestic Revolution goes on in Milan, which opened yesterday. mappasensoriale1
The public could taste the many different honeys we collected from the Milan urban area.
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Above the map we projected a video loop with over 350 different terms used by experts to describe flavours and smells of different honeys – in the photographs, ‘Of Rotten Wood’and ‘Of Celery and Toast at the Same Time’ !
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2015, 1 March
MAPPA SENSORIALE DI MILANO
In Milan with Doris Denekamp for a residency at CareOf to make work for part of the Grand Domestic Revolution goes on in Milan. Researching into urban bee-keeping in the greater Milan area. Italy turns out to be way ahead of almost anywhere in terms of research into, and knowledge about, honey. There is a good bike-share scheme here so we spend much time cycling between urban-beekeepers and market places where their honey is sold. milanbeehives
Doris is working on mapping our finds, whilst I am also spending some days in the agricultural library dredging through huge books for terms used to describe honey taste and smell – there are many! Like the apples in our supermarkets all tasting the same, generic, watery apple-ish, honey too is being homogenised, and much (most) supermarket honey has been mixed in factories and so the various, distinct tastes ensuing from the different plants from which bees have collected, is lost. Our plan centres around the abundance of different origins, tastes and smells, even within a relatively small, and relatively built-up area. milandorismap
The Grand Domestic Revolution goes on in Milan opens on the 5th of March.

2015, 22 February
MULIER SACER PROMO VIDEO!
The English publication came out last year, now we are looking for the means to have the book translated into Dutch.
Coming soon to a bookshop near you!
Watch this space for more info or click the link below to pre-order your copy…

Mulier Sacer – Disposable Women from Jimini Hignett on Vimeo.

The Red Light District, Amsterdam tourist attraction, appears to be something taken for granted. Many people seem to have blinkers on – despite no-one being able to imagine that they themselves, or their mother, daughter, sister, would enjoy doing the work, they accept what the sex-industry wants them to believe – that it’s a ‘normal job’, that the women have all chosen to do it, and are earning buckets of money. It is as if prostitutes are not considered as people but, rather, as a kind of sub-class, for whom normal, human values do not seem to count.
(The title is taken from the Latin term Homo Sacer, one who is deprived of his or her full humanity, a non-citizen who does not enjoy the protection of the law and who can be killed without legal consequence.)
When I found myself having to explain Amsterdam’s red-light windows to my (then) seven year old son, I began to question this widespread acceptance of prostitution. I volunteered to help at a hostel for women who had escaped from forced prostitution in the Netherlands – the stories of these women form the basis of the book Mulier Sacer.
The English publication is already out. Now we are looking for the means to have the book translated into Dutch.
Soon there will be a link to the publishers webpage, but meanwhile… Pre-Order your copy here now!

2014, 24 September
A MOMENT FOR ART
On October 10th in Diepenheim as part of their Kunstmoment event, on October 10th I will be at the Bijentuin, our monument to declining bee populations, to discuss the work and do a performative presentation. There are lowers in the bee field now, and other works to see and other artists to speak with too!
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2014, 26 May
OPENING NON-URBAN GARDENS
Our sculptural work, If Bees Are Few… (in collaboration with Doris Denekamp) opened as part of the Non Urban Gardens project in Diepenheim this week.
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Unfortunately it rained like crazy so the bees sensibly stayed in their hives!
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2014, 14 May
IF BEES ARE FEW… THE BOOK!
The second part of my project with Doris Denekamp, If Bees Are Few… is a book. if-bees-are-few-still-1-webThis publication together with it’s companion piece, the installation in the landscape near Diepenheim, is our contribution to the ‘Non Urban Gardens’. Half of the book is formed by pictures, and archive about bees through the ages – photos, drawings and etchings, showing beekeepers, hives, honeycomb, pollen and much more.
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But nowhere is there a picture of an actual bee – they have already disappeared form the archive. We sent the compiled archive to prize-winning British science, and science-fiction, author, Simon Ings, with the invitation to write a story based on a future… If Bees Are Few… His short story, Jerk Dance, weaves three story lines together to reflect on a changing society in which humans are becoming organised like bee colonies in order to survive in a world where nature has been exhausted. As well as Simon’s story, the book contains an essay by Doris, The Beekeeper’s Veil – how our gaze became shrouded, on the changing relationship between man and bees, and a reflective bee text, Augury, by me.
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The cover of the book is made from special paper saturated with seeds… plant it to grow flowers for bees! The wonderful Swiss graphic designer Anna Haas collaborated with us for the deign of this book.if-bees-are-few-still-16-web
Doris has made a great VIDEO of the book, see it here.

2014, 10 May
THE NON URBAN GARDEN BOOK
Doris Denekmap and I are included in the book, The Non Urban Garden –BoekTHUG Gardens of the 21st Century, with our work If Bees Are Few… It’s in Dutch and English and is part of the project at Kunstvereniging Diepenheim.
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The book includes work by the artists as well as a number of experts (Peter Sonderen, Joop Hoogeveen, Ann Meskens, Erik A. de Jong, Sakia de Wit, Piet Oudolf en Jorrit Noordhuizen) who explain their vision on the topic.

2014, 3 May
BEEHIVES IN PLACE
Finally the concrete beehives and the information tables have arrived in Diepenheim. Yesterday Doris and her team of helpers installed them. (I have injured my foot so I couldn’t be there.)
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Sometime soon, once the weather has warmed up sufficiently (it’s a windy location until the trees mature) the live beehives will be delivered…

2014, 8 February
CONCRETE BEEHIVES
Some photos of the concrete beehives being made for the sculptural part of If Bees Are Few… on which Doris Denekamp and I are collaborating for the Non-Urban Gardens project at Kunstvereniging Diepenheim.
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Exciting!

2014, 7 February
BEE ARCHIVE
Doris Denekamp and I have selected 250 photographs of bee-related images and printed them as photographs to send to Simon Ings, the prize-winning, British science and science-fiction author who will use them as inspiration to write a short story for our book as part of the If Bees Are Few… project.
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We will send them off in this antique archive drawer. None of the pictures show actual bees… they have already disappeared from the archive…

2014, 16 January
ON THE ROAD with DORIS DENEKAMP
For our project If Bees Are Few… Doris Denekamp and I have been on the road, visiting the Bee Museum (Bijenteeltmuseum) in Lanaken, Belgium, where we took photographs of the plethora of wonderful bee-related objects stored there. Here Doris is photographing a basket-work St. Ambrose, patron saint of beekeepers.
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2013, 24 December
NEW BOOK, MULIER SACER
MULIER SACER is out! Order your copy at Books.
Also on sale now in Amsterdam at the Stedelijkmuseum bookshop, Tropenmuseum shop, International Bookshop Fort van Sjaako, Boekhandel van Pampus on de KNSM-laan, and of course, San Serriffe Art Bookshop at 30 St.Annenstraat where the launch took place on Thursday January 16th.
Books-0148The title is taken from the Latin term Homo Sacer. Giorgio Agamben in, Homo Sacer, takes the definition from Pompeius Festus’ – “the one whom the people have judged on account of a crime,” and who can be killed without legal consequence. Slavoj Žižek defines today’s homo sacer as “the privileged object of humanitarian biopolitics: the one who is deprived of his or her full humanity being taken care of in a very patronizing way” – a ‘fugitive’, ‘outsider’ or ‘non-citizen’ who neither makes, nor enjoys the protection of, the law.

“As an inhabitant of this city, which generates such a large proportion of its income through the prostitution industry, the issue is one I feel compelled to tackle with my work, but I struggle to find a way to approach it as an artistic project… so many feminist controversies, so many complexities ­ I am wary of the battleground. How to make art from something this desolate, this vulnerable?”

In Mulier Sacer I juxtapose the fragile stories and photographs of women who have escaped from forced prostitution in the Netherlands with other pieces of writing – ­ an essay about the uneasy relationship between prostitution and feminism by Professor Maggie O’Neill, a selection of blog entries by an ex-prostitute turned abolitionist, an interview with a sociologist who procures sex-workers for her handicapped clients, and a proposed change in Dutch legislation by a crown prosecutor specialising in human trafficking.

Read more…

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2013, 6 November
HANDLE WITH CARE
Duo-exhibition with Patricia Kaersenhout, in the Amsterdam Tropenmuseum
In conjunction with Black & White, the Tropenmuseum’s exhibition commemorating the 150 years since the abolition of slavery, Patricia Kaersenhout invited me to be her partner in dialogue for this exhibition. Our joint installation is entitled in Handle With Care and deals with the existence of present day enslavement, a brutal reality for the women who have fallen victim to human trafficking and the sex industry.
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My contribution to this duo-exhibition is a video installation entitled Mulier Sacer, a title meaning the disposable woman: a person who has so few rights left in society that the wrongs that are done to her are no longer seen as crimes. The work has been made as part of an ongoing project about prostitution and has been produced in collaboration with women who have escaped enforced prostitution here in the Netherlands.

Read more…

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2013, 6 November
NON-URBAN GARDEN
Non-Urban Garden in collaboration with Doris Denekamp
Our design for a Non-Urban Garden as part of the project Gardens of the 21st century at Kunstvereniging Diepenheim has been accepted. Hurrah!
The title for our project has been taken from a line in the poem To make a prairie by the American poet Emily Dickinson. The line, If Bees Are Few… used thus, as an unfinished sentence, raises questions about the far-reaching consequences of a seemingly frivolous statement. What happens if bees become few? This question, one of increasing urgency, has inspired our thinking about the design of a garden for the 21st century.
We have had to veer away from our original plan… a number of logistical factors, in particular the difficulty of finding a large location for the fantasy plan we had initially envisaged, as well as the problem of upkeep, have now prompted us to develop a new plan for this garden relating to the issue of worldwide bee deaths…
The definitive plan for If Bees Are Few… consists of two complimentary parts – a book and a sculptural work in the landscape.
The work in the rural landscape of Diepenheim will be a row of beehives, two of which are inhabited by bees and buzz with life, the others, their companions, are silent, fossilised. These other (five) hives have been cast in concrete and form a kind of burial monument for the honeybee. The row of hives will be situated on a ‘terp’, a raised mound of earth, and surrounded by a meadow of flowering plants which are useful to bees, either for their nectar or their pollen, or for bee well-being. hives1
The second part of If Bees Are Few… will be an artists’ book. This publication, together with the hives, is the ‘Non-Urban Garden’. In collaboration with Swiss designer Anna Haas (alumna Werkplaats Typografie) we will develop a book that propagates the story of the bee. The project’s title forms the premise for the book – what if bees die out, what is lost if bees are no more? Not only in the practical sense – the pollination of plants, the consequences for food and the economy – but also in the imaginative or symbolic sense – bees having had such a prominent place in mythology and legend, etc. As the book should encompass not only the past and the present in terms of bees, but also the future, we have decided to ask the British science and science-fiction author Simon Ings to write a fictitious story relating to the idea – If bees are few…
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We will send him a collection of ingredients relating to bees, a kind of ‘time-capsule’ that could have been launched in order to explain bees to some future generation at a time when bees no longer exist, as the basis for a story from the perspective of a future (or even from the perspective of the almost extinct bee in the future…) when this scenario has become reality. The contents of the capsule will function as a collage through which, in an associative fashion, the history of the bee from mythical creature to its marginalisation in current society. This archive of images, artefacts and articles will form the background for the story. In addition to this, the cover of the book will be impregnated with the seeds of plants propitious to bees, in this way the book If Bees Are Few… itself, when planted, really does become the Non-Urban Garden.

2013, 15 January
MULIER SACER – IN PROGRESS
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Couple of photos made in the workshop during preparations for a new video project to be exhibited, with Patricia Kaersenhout, later this year, for the Tropenmuseum (Tropical / Colonial Museum) here in Amsterdam, reflecting on 150 years since the abolition of slavery.

2013, 20 February
IF BEES ARE FEW…
Non-Urban Garden in collaboration with Doris Denekamp
Invited by Kunstvereniging Diepenheim to respond to the questions, ‘What is your vision for a garden of the 21st Century? Would you design it for us?’, and to submit a proposal for their project the Non-Urban Gardens.
Diepenheim is a rural village, in an environment nowadays dominated by large areas of maize, grown as cattle feed. This agriculturalisation of the landscape has formed the backdrop for our Non-Urban Garden.
In recent years, an alarming increase in the death of bee populations has been observed worldwide. In Europe, the Netherlands has the highest recorded percentage of bee deaths. The reason behind the deaths has, for a long time, been unclear, but now more and more independent researchers point at a connection with a relatively new insecticide: imidacloprid. This systemic insecticide, though not intentionally aimed at honey bees, is nonetheless absorbed by them. It affects the bee’s nervous system and causes a severe weakening of bee populations, which makes them vulnerable to moulds, mites and viruses. Despite partial banning in several European countries, the Dutch government, kowtowing to an aggressive lobby by pesticide manufacturers, has not taken any steps to prohibit these dangerous insecticides.Preliminary-design-booklet

For our Non-Urban Garden we are therefore planning a garden specifically for bees.
Our idea involves a garden filled with plants that that can provide food for the bees or that have other properties beneficial to them. The layout of the garden would follow the molecular structure of the insecticide imidacloprid, and refer to the tradition of geometrical floral clocks. Six beehives, cared for by a local bee keeper, would be painted with the portraits of people who ‘have bees in their heads’, people committed to the honey bee’s well being – Emily Dickinson (poet and gardener), Rachel Carson (writer and eco-activist), Henk Tennekes (toxicologist specialised in bee deaths), Jan Rabe (local bee keeper), St Ambrose (patron saint of bees and bee keepers) and Bhramari Devi (Indian bee goddess). With time, the geometric shape of the ‘enemy molecule’ would gradually become diffused and ‘conquered’ – a symbolic victory for nature.

Doris Denekamp and I will be presenting this plan at Kunstvereniging Diepenheim on March 6th… you are welcome to come!
The proposal comes accompanied by a small booklet of the design.

2013, 14 January
DIEPENHEIM
Collaborating with Dutch-Art-Institute colleague Doris Denekamp of Informal Strategies on an assignment to design a ‘Non Urban Garden’ for Kunstvereniging Diepenheim in the wilds of Twente close to the German border. Diepenheim-619This project, whereby six different artists are designing Non-Urban Gardens, is curated by Joop Hoogeveen (Kunstvereniging Diepenheim) and Peter Sonderen (Lectoraat Theorie in de kunsten van ArtEZ hogeschool voor de kunsten) for Kunstvereniging Diepenheim which aims to develop into a national centre for the investigation of the relationship between nature and art, with particular emphasis on gardens designed by artists. The project is part of the concept ‘Gardens of the 21st Century’ and presentations of the six design sketches will take place in Diepenheim at the end of February, four of which will be realised during 2013.
More on this project soon…

2012, 7 March
‘THE OLDEST PROFESSION’
As part of the Occupy Campaign in the Jan van Galen neighbourhood last weekend, we ‘occupied’ the news & opinion website Joop.nl with a series of twelve Occupy-related articles. You can access all the articles (in Dutch) on the Occupy Campaign site under the heading press. English versions will (hopefully) follow at some point. Meanwhile, here’s the English version of my contribution…

The Oldest Profession
Although much of the media attention seems dedicated to painting the Amsterdam branch of the Occupy movement as nothing more than a haven of criminal activity, grime and menace, care for co-Occupyers was precisely one of the most positive aspects of life on Beursplein. It was ensured that no-one became under-cooled, or over-upset, that food was distributed to one and all, etcetera. During the night the de-escalating tactics of the ‘peacekeepers’ maintained a level of quiet and safety (both, in fact, mainly threatened by outsiders, in particular visitors to the red Light District and the nearby student societies, who were often particularly aggressive)…
Read more…

2012, 28 February
OCCUPY CAMPAIGN
OCCUPY CAMPAIGN: Call for volunteers
Occupy Campaign is advancing – from the squares and into the streets – and your help is needed!
On March 2nd and 3rd, in the Jan van Galen neighbourhood of Amsterdam, an Occupy-inspired campaign modelled on the grass roots campaigns in the U.S., will take place.
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Occupy Campaign is not selling anything, nor is it a political party. Occupy Campaign aims to bring politics back to their source: to the neighbourhood and the street. We have no influence on many important decisions in our lives, and current politics have taught us to accept this. Politics have been reduced to casting your vote once every four years. The Occupy movement shows that politics cannot be claimed by politicians alone, but that they are a part of everyone’s lives – that everyone has the right to play a role. With this in mind, Occupy Campaign wants to give form to a new type of politics together with the largest possible group of people.
For this we need your help – in our neighbourhood teams, phone teams, writing teams, and hands-on teams making banners etcetera.
Occupy Campaign comprises different teams – a team that goes from door to door to discuss the relevance of Occupy is at street level, a team that makes banners which show the ideas and suggestions coming from the neighbourhood, and a ‘phone bank’ team that calls people in the neighbourhood to discuss the future of democracy.
Are you curious about Occupy Campaign? Do you want to debate, to bring politics back to the streets and give form to them? For a day, or even just for an hour? Then come to Smart Project Space in Amsterdam on Friday 2nd or Saturday 3rd of March between 10am and 8pm. Or contact us at occupycampaign020@gmail.com (with “volunteer” in the subject line).
We’re looking forward to it!

Occupy Campaign
Jan van Galen neighbourhood

For more information and to stay up to date with our various activities:
www.occupycampaign.nl
Smart Project Space- Events
www.facebook.com/occupycampaign/
www.twitter.com/occupycampaign/

2012, 16 February
ARTISTS IN OCCUPY AMSTERDAM, AT THE RIETVELD

2012, 23 January
MICHAEL HARDT – OCCUPY and the POLITICS of the COMMONS
Coming Saturday, Michael Hardt will speak about Occupy and the politics of the commons. Elke Uitentuis and I have been invited to contribute to the discussion with our experience of Occupy Amsterdam.
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In the last year, the Occupy movement has emerged as a global critique to austerity politics and corporate democracy. With the end of the financial crisis nowhere in sight, the question of alternatives and strategies of resistance is more relevant than ever. Is there some path out of this crisis? What next for the occupy movement? What are the commons and what role can they play in a new political practice beyond state and market?
We will discuss these issues with the internationally acclaimed scholar Michael Hardt, co-author (with Antonio Negri) of Empire (2000) Multitude (2004) and Commonwealth (2009).
Introduction by Fabiola Jara (Seminar of the Commons).
Location: Social Center De Valreep, Amsterdam Oost, Polderweg 120.
Time: 16:00 – 18:00
Entrance is free

2012, 1 January
NOOD BREEKT WET
Literally translated, Nood Breekt Wet means Emergency Breaks Law – in other words, if it’s an emergency, then breaking the law may be necessary. NoodBreektWet445
We hung this banner – a collaborative effort by Doris Denekamp, Elke Uitentuis/Wouter Osterholt and me – between a tree and a lamppost above the remains of Occupy Amsterdam on Beursplein. NoodBreektWet439
Unfortunately, no sooner had we tied the last string and I was slithering back down the rain-wet, art-deco ironwork, than a police van screeched across the square at exaggerated emergency speed to instruct us to remove it, or else it would be removed. Nienke Jansen, with whom I was hanging it, put up a brave round of stroppy argument but in the end we resigned ourselves to moving it to a less prominent, less legible, position along the side of the big tent.

2011, 3 December
REVOLUTIONARY KARAOKE
Here’s a first photo of the karaoke with protest songs, the lyrics being beamed onto the wall of the stock exchange at Occupy Amsterdam on Beursplein. Karaoke-Beurs-2dec2011
(Thanks to Taf Hassam for the photo)

EVOLUTIONARY KARAOKE EVENING at OCCUUPY AMSTERDAM
2011, 29 November
Please join us on the Beursplein to sing along with protest songs, in the big tent on Friday December 2nd at 20:30 (bear in mind that non-hierarchical organisation means things sometimes run a little off schedule…)
The wonderful Lennie St. Luce will be presenting the evening, and all are welcome to come along and sing.
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The list of karaoke songs is still being added to and will be updated – at present it includes:
Am I Black Enough for You
Bandera Rossa (IT)
Bella Ciao (IT)
Ben ik te Min (NL)
A Change is Gonna Come
De Bom (NL)
De Dievenwagen (NL)
Don’t Stop Til You Get What You Want
Do-Re-Mi
Don Vito y el Revuelto en el Frenetico (SP)
Eyes on the Prize
Guantanamera (ES)
Guns of Brixton
If There’s Hell Below…
If You Tolerate This….
Invincible
Know Your Rights
Le Triomphe de l’Anarchie (FR)
Menheer de President (NL)
Mississippi Goddam
Now (is the Time)
Red Flag
Someday We’ll All be Free
Turn Me Around
We Shall Not be Moved
When Will We Be Paid
Which Side Are You On?

Thanks to all those who have supplied songs – in particular Taf Hassam & Kees Smallegange.
Venceremos!

2011, 16 November
OCCUPY UTOPIA!
We hung up the new banner this morning outside the entrance to the stock exchange at Occupy Amsterdam on Beursplein…
Occupy-utopia94

2011, 14 November
ZWARTE PIET IS RACISME – ARRESTS!
ARTISTS wearing T-shirts bearing the text Zwarte Piet is Racisme were arrested yesterday in Dordrecht during the Sinterklaas parade in a disgraceful display of police brutality. A Danish researcher and a journalist were also arrested.
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PROTEST! – get a T-shirt here.
More information (in Dutch) on Zwarte Piet is Racisme site.
Watch on Youtube here.
zartepietisracisme2

2011, 29 October
DETROIT DIARY NOW ON SALE IN AMSTERDAM
The Detroit Diary is now available from the Fort van Sjakoo bookshop in Amsterdam (Jodenbreestraat 24).
It’s also still on sale in Berlin at Pro qm (Almstadtstr. 48-50), in Paris at the Librairie du Centre Culturel Suisse (32 rue des Francs Bourgeois), and in 2 bookshops in Zurich – Edition Fink (Waffenplatzstrasse 39a) and Motto (Langstr. 84)

Photo: Scheltens & Abbenes

Photo: Scheltens&Abbenes – The Most Beautiful Swiss Books

And this month The Detroit Diary is featured in Graphic, a Korean quarterly graphic magazine, with an interview between me and designer Anna Haas. Graphic19_cover
Publication supported by the Stokroos Foundation
stokroos-cmyk

2011, 7 Sept
ALCEDO ATTHIS
I have finally managed to stop sobbing. For an hour I sat with the still warm body of a kingfisher in my hand, its blood slowly sticking my fingers together.
A special bird, its splash as it dived after a fish from its perch on the toppled velvet tree which overhangs the water, announced its presence more often than the treasured sight of its blue flash as I sat drinking early morning coffee under the larch.
But now it’s dead. kingfisher

I was drinking coffee indoors this time, for the morning was a bluster of showers, when there was a loud thud against the glass doors, very close, making me jump. I didn’t expect a corpse, I imagined the bird – I hoped a stupid bloody wood pigeon – to have flown off a little dazed perhaps, but not seriously harmed, so I finished the page I was on and then, as the sun appeared, stepped out to open up. There, lying on the ground was a bright turquoise bird. Why why why? Why must it be the kingfisher? I spend the next 10minutes clutching its warm limp, body to my breast, rocking it back and forth, stoking its tiny head.

I am aware that my distress is out of proportion, that somehow the death of this tiny, precious bird has triggered something else. Perhaps somehow connecting to a sense of the death of small and precious things on a larger scale.
Read more…

2011, 29 May
SAD AND BAD NEWS…
Some bad and sad news from Detroit – the Catherine Ferguson Academy which enables the majority of its teenage mothers(-to-be) students to aim for college education and a life after teen-motherhood, is threatened with closure.
fightback-cfa
There’s a video piece on the Rachel Maddow blog which goes further into the reasons why this closure (and others like it) is synonymous with the way in which basic tenets of democracy are being side-stepped when they prove a stumbling block for efficient power misuse (particularly in poor neighbourhoods), thus why Michigan is ground-zero for the politics of the USA today.
rachelmaddowshow
Also a report from the school at the time of the student sit-in in the Voice of Detroit independent news.
Direct support is difficult from this side of the Atlantic, but here’s a petition to sign, and those in possession of a credit card can donate to By-Any-Means-Necessary who are, among other things, providing the arrested teenaged girls with legal support.
banner-bamnleft8

2011, 14 May
DETROIT DIARY WINS AWARD!
BELATED NEWSFLASH!!
My book The Detroit Diary has been chosen as one of the winners of The Most Beautiful Swiss Book award – thanks to designer Anna Haas, herself Swiss, who submitted it for the competition.
detroitdiary
Anyone who happens to be in Zurich toward the end of June could visit the exhibition which will be at the Helmhaus Zürich, from 24th to 26th June 2011, following that the exhibition will then travel to Lavin/Engadin, St. Gallen, Bienne and Geneva. For more information, and the complete list of winners, Swiss Design Awards
Thank you to the Stokroos Foundatin for supporting the publicatin of this book
stokroos-cmyk

2011, 19 May
MTVS BROADCAST – LAST MINUTE!
This evening (sorry for the late post), Saturday 19 March, the opening of ‘From the Relative Truth to the Absolute Error’, at SMART project Space in Amsterdam – 19.00 hrs
(Text below courtesy of SMART)
ERRORIST NIGHT
Join Etcetera… during the opening for a very special Errorist Night of performances, music and screenings presented by Federico Zukerfeld and Loreto Garin Guzman special guests include Sebastián Díaz Morales and a presentation of his film Oracle and Lado Darakhvelidze presents Museum TV Station (MTVS) with an international guest line up: Martijn Duineveld, Jimini Hignett, Irakli Kakabadze, Zurab Rtveliashvili, Julio Pastor and Eric von Robertson.

21:00 Screening Oracle (11 minutes) a film by Sebastian Diaz Morales in the Auditorium
21:10 Museum TV Station (MTVS) session by Lado Darakhvelidze at the Errorist Kabaret
22:00 Open Stage at the Errorist Kabaret

From the Relative Truth to the Absolute Error by the Argentinian collective Etcetera… Resisting the passivity and skepticism of relativist postmodernism, Etcetera… unlock their labyrinth of errors through an appraisal of the triumph of failure. The group exploits the exhibition stage as a temporary platform for the International Errorism Movement that was established in 2005. From the Relative Truth to the Absolute Error is the concluding contingent of the Statement exhibition What is to be done between Tragedy and Farce? by Chto Delat?. Both collectives share common ground in their approach to political issues based on theatricality, estrangement, humor and self-irony. They also carry with them a profound responsibility embedded in local and international activist politics. The exhibition incorporates Chto Delat?’s new film The Museum Songspiel: The Netherlands 20XX.

2011, 19 April
ROYAL WEDDING RETRO
Well, in keeping with the upcoming royal nuptuals on April 29th, here’s a look back to the date of the last really big one – Charles and Di – just three months short of thirty years ago, on July 29th 1981. This one was The Royal Drag – Topo Grajeda marrying me, Jimini, in an irreverent drag wedding on St Marks Place in New York City. The fantastic photos are by Jo-Ann Porter and the late Timothy Greathouse, and the wonderful cake by Sur Rodney Sur.

2011, 15 March
MUSEUM SONGSPEIL – THE NETHERLANDS 20XX
Don’t miss the premiere of ‘Museum Songspiel – The Netherlands 20XX’ – new film by Chto Delat? whom I have been working with over the last few weeks – tomorrow at 8pm!
Some pictures taken on the set…
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Dmitry arranging the decor/costumes
chto-delat-huip+william
Security Guard & Museum Director
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Asya on the set
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An injured Daniel Rovai
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Cameraman, Producer & Director in Van Abbe Museum.

Text below courtesy of SMART Project Space…
‘Museum Songspiel: The Netherlands 20XX is a powerfully evocative film, set against the backdrop of the Dutch political scene in the year 20XX, it tells the story of a group of immigrants fleeing deportation by the authorities. Having escaped transportation, the film follows the immigrants struggle as they seek refuge in the museum, under the assumption that this safe haven is the last bastion of free speech and supports the politically oppressed. When the refugees are discovered a cogent, stimulating conversation develops between the director of the museum, the curator, the artist, a t.v reporter and the museum attendants. The film is an eerie reminder that any system can become monstrous if its masters seal it off from challenge and change and if popular belief in it is blind and fanatical.
Chto Delat? draw on the mode of ‘songspiel’ employed in musical theatre developed by playwright Bertolt Brecht and composer Kurt Weill in the early twentieth century, which presents political and social concerns through the accessible and often humorous form of song. In this manner Museum Songspiel reframes the profound discrepancy between arts’ inherent elitist discourse and proletarian resistance deftly accomplished in a circumspectly choreographed dance by the migrants. Unity and cohesion are achieved through an elegiac music score composed by Mikhail Krutik and performed by the museum attendants. The film presents diametrically opposed positions in what can be described as the force between individual and collective reason, between individual expression and community.’

2011, 15 March
CHOMSKY IN CHURCH
Managed to battle my way through the hoards of Amsterdam Lefties to get into Noam Chomsky’s lecture – Contours of Global Order: Domination, Stability, Security in a Changing World and the rise of Xenophobia in the West – in the Westerkerk.
Great setting – Chomsky preaching from the pulpit as it were. chomsky-church chomsky-close
Here’s the link to the full text of the lecture.

2011, 8 March
MUD
So, between all the politics, an old-fashioned exhibition… a number of squished creatures from my series of ceramic Roadkill are joining MUD – in the newly renovated Glazenhuis in the Amstelpark in Amsterdam. Opening Sunday March 13th 2011 at 3pm. Exhibition curated by the indefatigable Alite Thijssen of Stichting ZET, co-exhibitors are Gijs Assmann, Chris Baaten, Mirjam Oosterbaan, Ulrike Rehm & Det Smeets.
A4095 BlackBourtonRd 19-12-2005
The premise for the show, I quote: ‘For various reasons a revaluation of traditional techniques seems to be a topic currently attracting quite some attention. Is the gap between such things as the extraction of raw materials, transparency surrounding the flow of money, and commitment to production, at the root of the widely experienced sense of powerlessness apparent in large sections of the population? Is there, underlying this insecurity, a basic longing for a return to a time in which craftsmanship and identity – Carpenter, Potter – formed a natural unity? Within the visual arts there is also renewed attention for this idea of expertise, and ancient techniques are being reinserted into the discussion concerning contemporary developments. A possible response to the credit crunch in which all credible relationship to the product has gone up in smoke… Richard Sennet, in his book The Craftsman (2008) suggests that craftsmanship not only produces something in a concrete sense, but also offers possibilities for giving form to meaning(s). Reason enough for ZET to invite, for this exhibition, six artists who utilise their engagement with the material/technique (ceramics) to confront and give form to urgent current and personal questions with their work.’

2001, 19 February
LECTURE PERFORMANCE – ‘SPECIAL ATTENTION’ in AMSTERDAM
As part of the International “Practicing Theory” Workshop organized by the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis, I’ll be doing a lecture performance on Wednesday March 2nd at 5pm. The location is the University Theatre, Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16 in Amsterdam, that’s more or less next door to Grand Cafe ‘De Jaren’. There are a whole lot of other interesting lectures going on too – including Marxist art philosopher Jacques Ranciere, and cultural therorist and video artist Mieke Bal – so I’m keeping good company these days!

You can download the programme for the 3 days here. pdficon_small

asca-jimini

2011,5 Feb
CHTO DELAT – NOW WITH VIDEO!
Just spent a very intereseting and enjoyable two days at SMART Project Space participating with the Russian collective Chto Delat (means What’s to be done – in other words… How to go on!) chto-delat-wakeupThe event was 48 Hour Communal Life Seminar based around the idea of the didactic performance model by Bertolt Brecht, the ‘learning play’. A weird mix of avant garde reenactment, and kitsch agitprop.
chto-delat-oxana
Resembling a political seminar, the play came together during 48 hours of communal dsicussion, eating, sleeping, dancing and, being Russian… drinking. Title of the learning play – Where has Communism gone? chto-delat-artemy
As a participant it was a great experience, and for those of you who missed the live event, more photos by clicking here and here.
And here’s the video edited by Dmitry Vilensky…

where has communism gone? The learning play from chto delat on Vimeo.

2011, 12 January
POLITICAL INCLINATIONS…
Prompted by the Open Call for the 7th Berlin Bienniale‘s request to be informed about artists’ political inclinations, I have managed to reduce the passionate and subjective rant of my MFA thesis to 1000 words of passionate and subjective ranting.
Same old title – here it is…

HOW TO GO ON Making Art When Everything is All Fucked Up…

My politics are feminist, anarchist, humanist, passionate, radical and green – both in my artistic practice and my personal life. I believe in resistance, and although my gestures may not be grand, these basic tenets underlie everything I do.

The question of how to be an artist in the circumstances of today’s world is for me an ongoing struggle. The ecological catastrophe and the unchallenged rule of neoliberalism make this a period in history different to that facing previous generations of artists attempting to establish their role in society. Given the urgency of these times, can art have any significance, can it have a role as a tool for radical change for a better world?

“Without the possibility of action, all knowledge comes to one labelled ‘file and forget’, and I can neither file nor forget.” – Ralph Ellison – Invisible Man 1

Cursed with an inability to submit to a blinckered view, I feel I have a responsibility to act. As one of the first generation of women who have had access to education, birth control, and economic independence – things which have given me the ability to act – I feel this is also my moral obligation. We have an extraordinary combination of factors creating the situation now facing us, and we have never before been qualified to acknowledge, understand, and tackle them. Under these conditions, is being an artist an ethical choice – and if so, what kind of artist do I need to be?

How can I go on making art when what’s happening in the world around me is so calamitous? How can I conquer that sleazy feeling that it’s totally decadent to be an artist when the Amazon is vanishing, whales are extincting, people are starving, child prostitutes being scarred, the Enrons of this world unscrupulously undermining any remaining business ethics to profit at all costs, and the country I have lived in for the last twenty five years disappearing as the sea rises?

I can convince myself that art, under these circumstances, has any significance, only if I can believe in the power of art – in its power to effect change in the fucked-up-ness of things – if not directly then obliquely, effecting a chain-reaction, a little less aimlessly than butterfly flapping its wings. If I cannot believe this then I should stop being an artist, become a farmer, a nurse or an assassin, or set off to save the Amazon, the ice-cap or the child prostitutes (how to choose?!)

Art, manipulated into a corner where it is no longer taken seriously, is allowed, expected even, to say or do something, anything, outrageous, to be critical and to subvert, and yet this criticism should remain within accepted bounds. Like the court jesters of old, it is okay to lightly mock, to poke fun at the established order, to show, as it were, that there is space for criticism, that this belongs within the co-ordinates of democracy, yet the jests should be just that, lightweight and not taking themselves too seriously. Any real criticism of the fundaments of the ruling ideology is out of bounds, and ‘off with their heads!’

Art’s value (and by value I mean inherent value not monetary) is diminishing, disappearing, as art becomes just another word meaning design, or fashion or decoration, leaving artists as nothing more than providers of consumable ideas for articles of fashion, design and decoration. Art, like an old-fashioned girl-child, is being told that she must return complacently to a predetermined place in the corner and look pretty, speaking only when spoken to. We must resist this. And in order to do so we need to operate from a position of resistance to the all-encompassing neoliberal paradigm which threatens art’s very existence – in that art will be subsumed into the commodifying concept of capitalist economy as just another product, devoid of any magic, reduced to just another marketable design or marketable designer. Art will simply succumb, will lose its power.

If art is to retain any worth, any strength, in a world where value has increasingly become defined in terms of consumption and ownership, where things have become more important than the people they are supposedly produced for, and the fetishization of commodities taken on a new desperation as we attempt to fill the bottomless pits left by relinquishment of control over our own production of fulfilment, then resistance is the only way to go on.

If we do not resist, then soon there simply will be no more place for art. So we artists – if art is what we do best – need to fight for its survival, to prevent art itself from becoming extinct, and in doing so, work as an unpredictable, un-expected vehicle to a life somehow richer, clearer, more just, closer to humanity – a catalyst which could not have been predicted. Art at its best can have an inexplicable power, a kind of magic. Because when art works it works in ways which are often indefinable and unfathomable – but being indefinite and unfathomable it may perhaps be able to reach depths which other, more traditionally efficient methods for radical change may not.

Art can still find cracks in the system where its voice is neither unheard nor prone to wilful misinterpretation, and can make subversive use of its privileged position and ‘Yessah ’em to death’2 for as long as the disguise holds – after all, as long as it’s just art then we can hide behind that cover. My own work, which comprises various strands – objects or interventions, often in public space; performance lectures combining written texts with photographs and video; and installations juxtaposing compositions of individual video pieces – is both an ongoing attempt to create ‘meeting places’, and to ‘make sense of life’s brutalities’3

Yet the dilemma remains if it is possible to retain some credibility as a truly engaged artist and still maintain an ongoing relationship with the minefield of the contemporary art world… It seems to me that it is essential to keep in mind the challenge to channel art-related skills and perceptions in such a way that they empower rather than impress people. When negotiating the dangerous waters of the art world and in staying out of the mouths of the sharks without ourselves becoming predatory, we have to keep a critical eye on the balance and ensure that, whatever compromises we make, it weighs out on the side of empowerment. And, in order to turn back the tide of objective non-commitalism, however we decide to go on, we need to do so with a passionate and radical subjectivity.

Onwards, comrade artists!
Jimini Hignett – Amsterdam, January 2011

NOTES:
1. Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man, 1953, Penguin, Harmondswo