Call for proposals 4

FINALIST: Imagined Nations: A digital toolbox and publication, on canons, consensus, and curating 'the other'

Briefly introduce yourself.

HaRaKa Platform is an artistic collective investigating decolonial, feminist and ecological issues through creating performances, installations, publications, as well as curating festivals and conferences. HaRaKa was established in Egypt in 2006, and is directed by a group of European and Egyptian artists and practitioners: Adham Hafez, Lamia Gouda, Mona Gamil, Adam Kucharski.

What is diversity for you and which aspect(s) of it are you most concerned with?

Diversity is not only about including individuals of different racial backgrounds and skin colors within a cultural project. It is rather about including different projects of different cultural backgrounds within what we understand as public discourse, canon, and artistic heritage of a given place and time. After decades of colonialism, and after recent cries for racial and social equality, many cultural institutions now are questioning the colonial legacies of Europe, and of the West at large, as they engage in what is generally described as ‘decolonial’ practices. However, as a collective of theorists and artists from contested terrains, be it the Arab diaspora in Europe, or the femme/ queer spaces in the Arab world, we believe that diversity should go a step beyond the current practices. Diversity is not only giving people the right to speak, but the space to change or challenge the canon. The chance to challenge consensus, or at least to address how aesthetic consensus is generated, the tools that produce and govern it.

What is the idea, proposal or initiative you wish to propose?

Stemming from the work of Belgian Tunisian theorist Joachim Bin Yacoub, HaRaKa Platform is investigating his notion of the canon, and the call for challenging its hegemony. We will form a working group with Joachim Bin Yacoub, HaRaKa Platform members, and other artists and theorists in the Belgian scene occupied with practices of decolonisation. Our focus will be mapping out how consensus is produced within curatorial practices that invite non-white non-western artists to Europe. What references inform such programs, what language is used to frame these legacies and specificities? How are 'others' represented? By working with a data analyst and a visual illustrator, our artistic research will be rendered into visual representations of data, maps of references and cultural policies, analysis of economic impact on canon formation, and a visualization of decolonial practices within key ‘multicultural’ projects in the Belgian context. All research findings will be made available through an online publication, and a digital panel event.