Pélagie Gbaguidi at ‘Race, Power and Culture’ Symposium in Brussels


Symposium: Race, Power & Culture

BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts

Studio, 23 Rue Ravenstein, Brussels 1000

22 - 24 May 2019


A critical look at Belgian Cultural Institutions 

Wednesday 22 May 2019 (Day 1)

Dis-Othering: beyond Afropolitan & Other Labels
Venue: Studio

(Only in English)


With this Symposium, BOZAR holds its last event in the framework of the project Dis-Othering: Beyond Afropolitan and Other labels. This introduction day aims at framing the event within the context of this Creative Europe Project. We will discuss the different ways in which 'Othering' and 'Dis-Othering' practices are present in Belgian and European Cultural Domain. A particluar attention will be given to the Dis-Othering research 'Mapping Diversities'.


17:30 – 17:40 

Creative Europe Project Dis-Othering: beyond Afropolitan & Other labels under the artistic direction of Bonaventure Ndikung. Brussels Art Summit & Renaissance 2:0. Paul Dujardin (BOZAR)
17:40 – 18:00
(Doing) diversity in the Flemish cultural heritage / arts field
Ama Koranteng-Kumi (De Museumstichting)
18:00 – 18:30
Geographies of Imagination
Presentation of the past exhibition at SAVVY Contemporary
Olani Ewunnet (SAVVY), Saddie Choua (artist), Dimitri Fagbohoun (artist)
18:30 – 18:50
In Residence in The World: Multiple Transmissions: Art in the Afropolitan Age. Presentation of the upcoming exhibition at WIELS. Sandrine Colard (NYU)
18:50 - 19:30


19:30 – 19:45
Off-White, My favourite Colour, Gebroken wit, mijn lievelingskleur, Blanc cassé, ma couleur préférée - Ikram
Memes tell us stories, through certain images and languages, and ranting is one of those. Ranting is not venting, ranting is for the one who isn’t able to vent, and thus not able to rest, and give ‘it’ time. Listen to the so-called conflict of language.
19:45 – 21:00
Mapping Diversities (Panel)
Processes and reflections of the Dis-Othering Mapping project. Research on diversity at decisionmaking level in cultural institutions of Belgium, Germany and Austria.
With Olani Ewunnet (SAVVY, Berlin), Naomi Ntakiyica (BOZAR, Brussels), Tonica Hunter (Kulturen in Bewegung, Vienna). Moderated by Jonas Tinius (Humboldt Universität zu Berlin).
21:00 – 21:30
Don’t make it about you - Khalid Koujili
Theatre performance on the representation of the ‘other’ in theatre. In 'Don't make it about you' three young actors wonder whether theatre really represents society? If theatre can be a representation, how does it relate to reality? How can we, as nonwhite
actors, translate a role written for and by white people? For whom is theatre actually made? Don't make it about you is Khalid Koujili’s final work for his Master in Drama (Ghent).


Saddie Choua connects her art with her academic experience through political art of
documentary, video installations, mixed media collage and short stories. Using meta-documentary tactics (fragmented narration, visual essay, and re-appropriation of cross-cultural popular formats), she calls out for a critical viewer, highlighting racial/ethnic discrimination, discrimination against women, colonialism and class.


Sandrine Colard is an art historian, writer and independent curator based in Brussels and New York. As a specialist of modern and contemporary African arts (PhD Columbia University), she has been appointed Artistic Director of the 6th Lubumbashi
Biennale 2019. Colard is also working on The Way She Looks: A History of Female Gazes in African Portraiture, and on her book about the history of photography in the Democratic Republic of Congo. (awarded 2019-2020 Ford Foundation Fellowship).


With their passion for arts and design, Ikram express themselves through cross-disciplinary experimentations. Through one of those ways, they tend to address white art institutions and academia, capitalism, anti-Blackness in MENA communities,
(neo-) colonialisms, patriarchies, cis-hetero-normativity, orientalism, exoticism,
classism, able-bodied privileges, and mental health.

Olani Ewunnet is an urban designer, researcher and sound artist living in Berlin. Her recent score Hidirtna/Sisters has been presented in several exhibitions. In her soundscape azmari X kikuyu Ewunnet researched sonic resistance in urban Ethiopia. She currently works at Kéré Architecture / Kéré Foundation, and is the founder of the Selamawi Project in Addis Ababa. At SAVVY Contemporary, she works on the project Dis-Othering: Beyond Afropolitan and Other Labels.


Dimitri Fagbohoun was born to a Beninese father and an Ukrainian mother. Growing up in Cameroon before moving to France, Dimitri Fagbohoun’s work is imbued with reflections on his background, straddling geographical and artistic boundaries through video, photography and installation. Fagbohoun’s ongoing series Recollection question the way African art included in internationally acclaimed museums influence Western art practices and understanding in a postcolonial approach.

Wouter Hillaert is a Belgian cultural journalist. For 15 years he has been working as a freelance theatre critic for the Flemish newspapers De Morgen and De Standaard. In 2003 he co-founded the free cultural magazine rekto:verso on arts and society
(www.rektoverso.be) of which he is still one of the coordinators. His main topics are theatre, cultural policy and community arts. In 2014 he initiated the Flemish civil movement Hart boven Hard, and is still its spokesperson.


Tonica Hunter was born in London and has roots in Jamaica. She is a practitioner of communityfocused strategies promoting activism through cultural projects. In Austria, she has (co)founded the Sounds of Blackness, a platform for local black diaspora artists and Series: Black, a community project using visual art and sound. Tonica works in Research and Development at the Austrian National Library’s Digital department, and as a researcher and consultant at Kulturen in Bewegung.


Ama Koranteng is the Founder of Creating Edges, Project Lead and Publicist. Her projects are at the cutting edge of arts, politics, empowerment and eco-well-being. She acts in an advisory capacity with diverse organisations committed to developing
inclusive societies. With a Master in Gender Studies, she is the diversity and inclusion advisor for De Museumstichting, the umbrella organisation comprising of three museums in Antwerp. She lives alternately in Amsterdam and Antwerp.

Khalid Koujili is an actor, performer and theatre maker, following a Master’s programme at KASK Ghent. He has worked with theatre companies Bij De Vieze Gasten, The metropolitan area, HET PALEIS, kunstZ, Luxembourg vzw, Real estate and
het Toneelhuis. He made his first solo performance (pas) accepté about migrant workers in the 60s and 70s (2017). Khalid wants to (re)tell stories from a different perspective, particularly stories by minority groups, which should be given a place on the stage.

Naomi Ntakiyica organises this symposium and conducts research for the Mapping Diversities subproject. Holding a Master’s degree in Slavic Studies and in Cultural Anthropology and Development Studies, she has been addressing issues of discrimination (migrant workers and Burundian students in Russia, Muslim women in Kyrgyzstan) and has a particular interest in Gender and Islam in Central Asia. Prior to her current job, she has worked two years as a counsellor for newcomers in Brussels.


Jonas Tinius is an anthropologist of art and a post-doctoral research fellow on the Making Differences Project (Centre for Anthropological Research on Museums and Heritage), based at the Department of European Ethnology (Humboldt-Universität). He explores how notions of alterity, otherness, and diversity are engaged through
curatorial practices in Berlin. With Prof Roger Sansi, he convenes the Anthropology and the Arts Network of the European Association of Social Anthropologists.


Thursday 23 May 2019 (Day 2)

Cultural Institutions as a matter of contention

Venue: Studio

Language: French (with simultaneous translation into Dutch)


Othering practices are deeply rooted in the history of various cultural institutions in Belgium. The will and the ambitions to 'diversify' the staff and public and to offer diverse programs collides with an inherant resistance towards change. What makes good initiatives fail? What are the blind psots of the institutions? And how can these issues be surmounted?


17:30 – 18:00
Politisation d’un monde noir à Bruxelles à l’épreuve du rapport postcolonial dans l’art et la culture
PhD research presentation by Véronique Clette-Gakuba (ULB).
18:00 – 18:20
#Asylstadtmuseum# - Pélagie Gbaguidi
Performative lecture of texts, poems, stories and images.
18:20 – 19:35
The Making Of: on the challenges in collaborations between cultural institutions and partners (Panel)

 With Sibo Kanobana (UGent), Nicole Grégoire (ULB), Véronique Clette-Gakuba (ULB), Naomi Ntakiyica (BOZAR), Kathleen Louw (BOZAR). Moderated by Omar Ba (French)
19:35 – 19:40
Diversité - Spitler
“Diversité” is about the hypocrisy within the cultural sector that promotes diversity but does not actually want to pay for it. It is also about the difficulties we encounter
within this sector as coloured artists.
19:40 – 20:15


20:15 – 22:00
Experiences, Strategies, proposals (Panel)
Discussion with artists and activists about their past experiences with Belgian cultural institutions and suggestions for renewal of collaboration methodologies with Pitcho Womba Konga (Skinfama), Heleen Debeuckelaere (Black Speaks Back), Audrey N’Guessan (CVB), François Makanga (Afropean Project), Guy Woueté (artist), Loucka Fiagan (Wedntknwyet), Benjamine Laini Lusalusa (#NotMyAfricaMuseum), Primrose Ntumba (AfricaMuseum). Moderated by Sibo Kanobana (UGent) with respondents from cultural institutions (AfricaMuseum, Arenbergschouwburg, BOZAR, Théâtre de Liège and Vooruit)
22:00 – 22:20
Looking for Bianca –Marie Diaby
A free form fitting into Shakespeare's Othello plot, an attempt to evoke the social position of a woman of mixed race in the 17th century, a projection, maybe a daydream.


Omar Ba is a historian, activist and consultant on diversity policies, inclusion and diasporic transnational networks. He is a well-known voice within Flanders on matters
of multiculturalism and social inclusion. He also was for many years a key spokesperson for the African communities in Flanders and representative of the European Network Against Racism coordination Belgium.

Véronique Clette-Gakuba is a sociology researcher at the METICES research centre
(Université Libre de Bruxelles). She is finalizing a PhD on the links between sub-Saharan migration, art and colonialism in Brussels, a multicultural city and a postcolonial metropolis (research funded by Innoviris and conducted
under the direction of Nouria Ouali), entitled (provisionally) The unfolding of an artistic Sub-Saharan territory in Brussels : how visibility is negotiated in new ways.

Heleen DeBeuckelaere is a Brussel based historian, journalist and organizer. She cofounded the media-channel Black speaks Back with Emma-Lee Amponsah. She has published articles in Africa is a country, De Standaard and One World magazine. She is also a columnist for Rekto:Verso Magazine. She cocurated the international theatre festival Same Same But Different and was the head curator for the Decolonizing is a verb collection at the Brussels library.


Marie Diaby is an actress. Her theatrical career has led her to collaborate on performances, creations, reading and cinema. Parallel to her activity as an interpreter, she creates solos in which she writes and directs. She has recently been selected to play the role of Bianca in ‘Othello’ and is interested in the presence of black people in Shakespearian Europe, which made her create Looking for Bianca, with the choreography of Gaspard Rozenwajn.


Loucka Fiagan is a Belgian native and multidisciplinary artist. He is currently
studying Choreography in the ISAC department of the Royal Academy of Beaux
Arts in Brussels. Before this he was studying Sociology at the Université de Saint Louis.
During his sociological studies he joined the multidisciplinary collective Chapter 01
with whom he partook in organising artistic happenings in Brussels and Antwerpen. He is currently a member of the duo Wedntknwyet.

Pélagie Gbaguidi from Benin, born in Dakar, lives and works in Brussels. Pélagie

calls herself a contemporary "Griot". A "Griot" questions the individual as he or she moves through life by absorbing the words of the ancients and modelling them like a ball of fat placed in the stomach of each passer-by with the ingredients of the day. Her focus of interest is centered on the colonial and postcolonial archives and on the unmasking of the process of forgetting in history.


Nicole Grégoire is a Research Affiliate at the Laboratoire d’Anthropologie des
Mondes Contemporains at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. She holds a PhD in Social and Political Sciences. Her research focuses on African diasporas’ associational life and forms of collective action in Europe and in the US. She is currently a Postdoctoral Research Assistant for the project Women of Colour Resist  led by Akwugo Emejulu (U. Warwick, UK) and Leah Bassel (U. Roehampton, UK).


Sibo Kanobana is an author and researcher in sociolinguistics at Ghent University currently working on a PhD project on language, race and work. He is also a writer and performer collaborating since 2016 with Roland Gunst on The Reign of Afropeanism, performed on several stages throughout Flanders in 2018.

Benjamine Laini Lusalusa is an Afro-Belgian activist based in Brussels. She is cofounder of the anti-racist collective La Nouvelle Voie Anticoloniale and of Kumbuka (Remember in Swahili), a Brussels-based collective of decolonial activists whose objective is to deconstruct the myths surrounding the colonial heritage and to question the continuity of coloniality as well as power relations within the "largest colonial museum".

Kathleen Louw holds Master’s degrees in economics (Université Catholique de Louvain) and African Studies (UCLA). She worked as a project coordinator at the Getty Conservation Institute (LA), on the topic of cultural heritage in Africa and China. Since 2011 she is project manager of the Africa Desk of BOZAR. She led the European project Art at Work in 7 African capitals, and she is currently managing the projects ‘Dis-othering’ and ‘Culture at Work Africa’ (DEVCO).

François Makanga is an actor and journalist, and since 2018 he has been a guide
at the AfricaMuseum. Among his artistic experiences he participated in TV series
such as Champions and Cordon (alongside Veerle Baetens). His versatility and his career as a self-taught Afropean artist have led him to support and share the values of Frederic Lubansu's Afropean Project, a cultural collective that addresses issues of "diversity" of audiences and professionals on the European scene.


Audrey N'Guessan is workshop coordinator of the European project YEAD. Her personal interests have led her to work around the cultural empowerment of young adults from various backgrounds, whilst leading an in-depth questioning of their representations and understandings of the world. After working on diverse cultural projects, Audrey has coordinated the Coup2Pouce's project, in which the Brussels youth created collective documentaries around the city.


Primrose Ntumba holds a Master in Communication Sciences (specialized in
Corporate Communication and Marketing) from VUB (Vrije Universiteit Brussel). She
is of Congolese origin and was born in the Netherlands. Since May 2018 she is active in Public Relations, Communication and Events at the AfricaMuseum for everything related to the African diasporas. Since 2017 she has been working in communication for the Belgian-Congolese artist Zap Mama.


Younes Van Den Broeck aka Spitler is a visual and street art artist. He transforms his
critique on society and social engagement into art, word and image. He is part of a
new art movement called Fokovism that is opposed to forms of education that limit
the individuality, style and freedom of expression of artists. In 2018, he received
the Queen Mathilde Prize in collaboration with Commusaic vzw for the Beats and Bars
project. He also gave workshops in prisons in New York and Belgium.

Pitcho Womba Konga, of Congolese origin, is an actor, rapper and co-founder of
Skinfama. More interested in the message than in glamour, he is passionate about writing and the stage. His album Regarde Comment (2003) established Pitcho as one of the best urban artists. A large number of concerts and theatre performances (Malcolm X, Kuzikiliza…) make him an essential performer.

Guy Woueté, born in Douala, works in Antwerp and Douala. He studied sculpture
and painting in Douala and was a resident at the Rijksacademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam. He graduated from the University of Paris 8, as well as from Erg School of Arts in Brussels. His work has been shown worldwide, a.o. at the Addis Foto Fest; Biennales of Dakar and Havana; the International Film Festivals of Toronto, at Montréal, Rotterdam, Kampala, Frankfurt am Main, Ghent and New York.


Friday 24 May 2019

Afro-what? Whiteness and the categorization of the 'Other'

Venue: Studio + M

Language: Dutch (simultaneous translation into French)


Old categories are constantly being replaced by new ones in order to define the 'Other'. On this third day of the symposium we will have a critical discussion on 'normality' and the dynamics of labelling, and how to find alternative ways to (re)define ourselves wihtour falling into stereotyped views.


17:30 – 17:35
Genres inversés – Zeinabou Hamidou Diori
Audio-visual work on the need for a symbolic transformation of our personalities in order to feed mutual empathy and understanding.
17:35 – 18:50
Beyond Afropolitan & other labels (Panel)
Discussing labels, white frameworks of normativity and strategies to advance
beyond these labels and categories. With Eric Cyuzuzo (For all Queens!), Emma-Lee Amponsah (Black Speaks Back), Melat Nigussie (Belgian Renaissance), Gladys Akom Ankobrey (University of Maastricht), Emmanuelle Nsunda (Afrofeminisms, La Zone), Mathieu Charles (Scan & Do, minderhedenforum), Ayoko Mensah (BOZAR Africa desk). Moderated by Heleen Debeuckelaere (Black Speaks Back).
18:50 – 19:20
Fanon Mixtape - Mathieu Charles
A spoken word reimagening of the performance as a multiple, multilingual
(re)presentation of a torn world, closed doors and (de)colonisation mechanisms starting from Frantz Fanon's philosophy.
19:20 – 19:25
Conclusions & Recommendations - Seckou Ouologuem

19:25 – 19:30
Corp en mouvement - N'Keïnodji Gongolo
A dialogue between the body and the matter. The body in turmoil, struggling
in its daily identity; the body seeking debate, the body dancing and the body sublimating.
19:30 – 20:10
20:10 – 21:00
BLULAND – collectif Wedntknwyet
An immersive performance questioning normativity and madness, with the use of psychedelic audiovisual installations and theatre.
End – Invitation to join the opening of the new exhibition at WIELS curated by Sandrine Colard Multiple Transmissions: Art in the Afropolitan Age


Gladys Akom Ankobrey is a PhD Candidate and is part of the 5-year interdisciplinary Mobility Trajectories of Young Lives project (Maastricht University). She studied Cultural Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam and Migration and Diaspora Studies at SOAS, focusing on Afropolitanism. Gladys is researching the role of transnational sources of support in the educational experiences and post-secondary transitions of young people of Ghanaian background in The Hague.


Emma-Lee Amponsah (NL/GH) is videoproducer, loctician, founding member of
Belgo-Dutch grass-root organization and media platform Black speaks Back and PhD candidate in Critical Media and Post-colonial studies at Ghent University currently working on a FWO-funded research project titled Out of the past. Through her academic, activist and artistic work she explores the notion of ‘race’ in relation to gender, environment and spirituality. Her dissertation focuses on mediated collective memories of the colonial past.

Mathieu Charles is a writer and performance artist. He debuted with the performance lecture / monologue Fanon Mixtape in 2018. His current research revolves around the impact othering has on Diasporic identities in colonial leftist white ‘progressive’ online and offline spaces. He also released “Tzara”, a Hip Hop album under the moniker IslaSoul and organises Stand & Deliver, an open mic for spoken word, comedy and other forms of performance.

The artist Zeinabou Hamidou Diori, born in Niger, settled in Belgium in 2009. The contrast between Belgium and Niger has profoundly influenced the development and expression of her work. Zeinabou is an experimental, multidisciplinary artist, working with various media. From canvas to performance, from sculptures to monumental
installations, not to mention documentaries and video, which allow her to explore the effect of voices on the audience.


Ayoko Mensah is a cultural expert, artistic programmer, author and cultural activist, with Masters degrees in cultural management, literature and journalism. She is working as an advisor and programmer for the Africa desk of BOZAR. She has
worked as a consultant for several international organisations. She ran the Africultures Review, founded the Afriscope, and worked as an expert for the ACP support programme to cultural sectors. Mensah also has co-authored several books.

Eric Cyuzuzo's creativity expresses itself through thinking, building and organizing platforms that showcase and elevate the narratives of black people at the intersection of their identities. He believes in working outside of the white mainstream, within
black grassroots non-profit organizations. He organizes, programs and curates for a.o. Le Space, Rainbow Nation Brussels and FAQ!, all set up and led by anti-racist, feminist, pro-queer, anti-capitalist people, black or of colour.


N'Keïnodji Gongolo is a visual artist, in training at the Atelier Design Textile at the Academy of Fine Arts of Tournai. With her practice, installations and performances, she questions the notion of identity: the multiple, scattered, and fragmented individual. While, the digital elements allows her to intertwine these different reflections, to spin and give life to still images, to overlap materials and colours…


Melat Gebeyaw Nigussie studied Law, Literature and Linguistics at the universities of Leuven, Sheffield and Brussels and is currently working for BOZAR as a project coordinator of Next Generation, Please!. Alongside her job at Bozar, she works as
a freelance opinion writer on gender and diversity issues. Melat is a profound believer in empowerment trough the arts, a belief she puts in practice as the co-founder of Belgian Renaissance.

Emmanuelle Nsunda has an education in the field of Art History and Intangible Cultural Heritage and study immigration studies. Currently, she is the Project Manager of Minorities Speaking/Afrofeminism In Progress, based in La zone (Liège). She has a special focus on the intersectionality between racism and sexism and the deconstruction of white privileges.

Seckou Ouologuem is a pioneer of the Flemish slam poetry scene. He has performed on various poetry/theatre/music stages in Asia, Africa, North and Latin America. He won the Diesel award, the Flemish Kif Kif and the Dutch Spoken (Van
Dale) award. He also teaches slam/rap/expression/ storytelling in (music) schools, universities and prisons. For the occasion he was asked to make a live rhythmic report for the symposium.

Oscar Cassamajor and Loucka Fiagan are two artists from Brussels who created WEDNTKNWYET. Together they focus on performances and installations with an immersive approach through the use of digital media, word and dance. WDKY originates from the fact that all art is dynamic, born out of a digital Zeitgeist and a generation living in a (large) urban context. Oscar and Loucka’s main motivation and constant drive as artists is the need to identify themselves as changing and dynamic
creatures. Oscar and Loucka are individuals, with conflicting emotions and (not always realistic) desires, living in the heart of a metropolitan system that does not always reflect their ideal version of the world.

May 24, 2019
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