A screening of videos by The Black Archives and Quinsy Gario followed by a conversation with Simone Zeefuik on new rituals and performances to make monuments mean otherwise. This is the second edition of Monument, a collaboration with e-flux Architecture, to discuss how monuments have—once again—come to play a pivotal role in mobilizing and rearticulating struggles for recognition.
Building Our Monuments by The Black Archives
The video Building Our Monuments, is based on documentations by The Black Archives from 2016-2018. The Black Archives documents the history of Black emancipation movements and individuals in the Netherlands. The archive comprises unique book collections, archives and artifacts that are the legacy of Black Dutch writers and scientists. The approximately 3000 books in the collections focus on racism and race issues, slavery and (the) colonization, gender and feminism, social sciences and development, Suriname, the Netherlands Antilles, South America, and Africa. The Black Archives are founded by Jessica de Abreu, Mitchell Esajas, Miguel Heilbron and Thiemo Heilbron, and are managed by the New Urban Collective.
How to See the Spots of Der Leopard by Quinsy Gario
In the seventeenth century Duke Jacob Kettler of the Duchy of Courland, a Polish-Lithuanian vasal state in an area that is today western Latvia, commissioned several ships to participate in the violent European project of colonial expansion and resource extraction.
In 1645, one of those ships, De Hoop (The Hope) was spotted off the French coast of Saint Martin/Sint Maarten, which was then a joint Dutch–French colony. The ship had been built in Zaandam, a Dutch city, and sailed under Dutch command from Amsterdam to the Grain Coast (present-day Liberia) for grain, then to the Caribbean for timber, and then back to Europe.
In 1653, the ship Der Leopard (The Leopard), also under Dutch command, sailed from Amsterdam to Guinea, where abducted and chained Africans were forced onto it. It then sailed to Martinique, where our ancestors were sold and enslaved to work sugar plantations established on the French colony by Dutch people, who had previously been expelled from Brazil by the Portuguese.
From 1654–1659, the Duchy of Courland had a colony on the island of Tobago, currently part of Trinidad and Tobago, after it had been a Dutch, French, and British colony. Duke Jacob Kettler had heard of the island in the Dutch city of Middelburg, where he was told about the difficulty in colonizing the island for the Dutch Republic.
In 2013, a statue was erected for Duke Jacob Kettler in Kuldiga, Latvia. During his reign, Kuldiga was the seat of his power and was called Goldingen, “the Golden City” in Baltic German, which was the ethnicity and language of the ruling class.
In 2020, Quinsy and Jörgen Gario, who are from Sint Maarten, a former Dutch colony that in 2010 became a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, were invited to perform in Kuldiga.
Words and sounds by Jörgen Gario, words and scenography by Quinsy Gario, camera by Adele Bea Cipste, Inga Lāce, and Māra Žeikare, edit by Quinsy Gario, production by Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art, Ieva Astahovska, Margaret Tali, Jörgen Gario, and Quinsy Gario, supported by The Mondrian Fund, with special thanks to Ilya Lensky, Jews in Latvia Museum; Māra Zālīte, Pētera Putniņa kokļu darbnīca. For all who were taken and all of us who survive.
Quinsy Gario is a visual and performance artist from the Caribbean islands that have Dutch colonization in common.
Simone Zeefuik is an Amsterdam based writer, cultural programmer and organizer whose work centres around representation, inclusivity and social justice. She focuses on Africentred perspectives, decolonizing knowledge institutes, digital archives and movements against the illegalizing of the so-called undocumented members of the Afro-Dutch communities. Her other commitments include being a teacher at Zawdie Sandvliet’s Afro-Dutch Studies course and a lecturer at Amsterdam’s Sandberg Institute.
Monument is a collaboration between e-flux Architecture and Het Nieuwe Instituut, featuring essays by Arna Mačkić, Wayne Modest, Philipp Oswalt, Jorge Otero-Pailos, Robert Jan van Pelt, Valentina Rozas-Krause, and Mabel O. Wilson, and videos by Vasyl Cherepanyn, Manuel Correa, Quinsy Gario, Dima Srouji, The Black Archives, Milica Tomić, and Sumayya Vally. From the toppling and removal of statues to ongoing debates on contested objects, buildings, and landscapes, the series reconsiders the design and construction of monuments in relation to wider processes and structures of memorialization that reify social configurations.
e-flux Architecture is a sister publishing platform of e-flux, archive, and editorial project founded in 2016. Edited by Nikolaus Hirsch, Anton Vidokle, and deputy editor Nick Axel, the news, events, exhibitions, programs, journals, books, and architecture projects disseminated by e-flux Architecture describe strains of critical discourse surrounding contemporary architecture, culture, and theory internationally. Since its inception, e-flux Architecture has maintained a dynamic international program of projects and events in collaboration with leading institutions and practitioners.