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Annli Charlotte Basedahi – Growing together very fond of each other

The graduation show of the KABK in The Hague centres a turn towards attentive, relational and reparative action. Nele Brökelmann wanders around the academy and picks some of her favourites.

Visiting the graduation show of the Royal Academy of Arts in the Hague is always overwhelming because of the sheer number of graduates and departments, spaces to walk into and the maze-like architecture. At the entrance I quickly grab a map that pinpoints the works of students from the ArtScience department, which are as usual scattered all over the building while the works from students of other departments tend to be exhibited in the same area. I also grab an A4 booklet that I only look into the next morning.

It turns out to be the second issue of a new student newspaper, lead and initiated by students. The paper mirrors my overall impression of the graduation show in which I found a variety of overlapping themes. Deep frustration with how capitalist structures and borders are shaping our lives was alternated with reinterpretations of love, pleasure and sex and reappropriations of reparative language. There was joy in learning to laugh about ourselves, in getting to know one another and our more-than-human environments.

Alice West - My Soul Has An Itch 

Sienna Matijas - I am the creator of their impression

Catelijne Boele - Maelstrom

In the last year, an institutional shockwave has moved through the KABK, leaving  the director of the school to step down. Calls for a student union become louder and louder. While the individual graduation works I saw did not address these issues directly, I am sure that the students must be  influenced by them, as well as by other current societal issues, of course amplified by the current pandemic. Some decided to graduate with a collaborative work, creating space for listening and conversations, and reflecting on and showing the continuity of the process of making and consequences of being-in-the-world.

Robinou (Bachelor ArtScience) installed a meeting place in one of the outside areas of the academy, inviting the visitor to drink tea while reading his book and graduation work Queer Communal Kinship Now!, and having a conversation about his joyful manifesto for the collectivization of reproductive labour.

Robinou - Queer Communal Kinship Now!

The concept of reparative language is a recurring theme in the individual Master Artistic Research works. Juliana M. Hernández’ video-installation Perpetual states of delirium takes Columbia’s violent history of the last 70 years to explore the necessity of reparative native languages and actions to deal with the created trauma.

Juliana M.Hernandez - Perpetual states of delirium

Several works deal with the entangled ways of listening and understanding our experiences through translation processes. Serene HUI (Master Artistic Research) has made prints of English translations of poems by writer and publisher Gui Minhai written originally in Swedish and Chinese. The prints of the English translations of both versions individually reveal the impossiblities of translation, ending up with different meanings.

Serene HUI - What Kinds Of Times Are These, When To Talk About Trees Is Almost A Crime

Minji Kim’s performance Listening performance; flashback session asks how we construct our inner perception through listening. The audience is seated in front of the windows looking outside with headphones, while Kim makes intervals of soundscapes and shares her memories of past experiences.

Minjhi Kim - Listening performance; flashback session

The sea never sleeps by Skykey / Piet Verkleij is an audio-visual installation that situates the viewer in front of a round screen watching the waves of the North Sea, at some points entering the water and adding surreal elements as three suns above the horizon.

Skykey Piet Verkleij - The sea never sleeps

Anca Bârjovanu grows her own armour against time slipping away and other worlds colliding with ours, photographer and writer Anders Birger investigates our shared and divided European history around borders to find out how they shape our lives and Carl Rethmann created Fan Club: literally an installation with fans, that when they spin show video projections of the artist himself and other, often famous people that cheer you on.

Anca Barjovanu - How to grow thick skin

Anders Birger - Halls of Lost Steps

Carl Rethmann - Fan-Club

At first glance, this year’s graduation show seems not that different from the years before: a collection of individual works telling individual stories. When I ‘read between the lines’ though, I see themes recurring all over the different departments. It seems to me that these graduates know that they are struggling collectively, not only with the institutional structures of the academy they are about to leave, but with the structures in their various countries of origin and the challenges of attentively caring for one another and our planet.


Nele Brökelmann

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