Make the Future of Europe Yours

At the beginning of the new cultural season H401 is happy to announce the launch of Amplify: Make the Future of Europe Yours. The project goal is to collect ideas, issues and feedback about how the cultural sector can be more inclusively represented in Europe. It specifically focuses on amplifying underrepresented voices across Europe.

We will work with a group of artists from Dutch art academies that will – in a first phase – identify individually which voices they are missing in the debate about the future of Europe and which issues they find crucial to address. During the coming month they will collaboratively work on a set of artistic recommendations that will be submitted to the Platform of the Conference on the Future of Europe on 9 October.

The project takes place in 12 countries of the EU. In the Netherlands it is carried out by H401 in collaboration with DutchCulture, LKCA, Creative Court, BA Photography of the Royal Academy of Art The Hague (KABK), Het Geluid Maastricht and iArts Maastricht.

From then on they will design and co-create a bottom-up process to include these voices in a process that will culminate in a Hackathon event on Europe Day, 9 May 2022.

The artistic guidance of this process is in the hands of Rabiâa Benlahbib (Creative Court) and Romy Roelofsen (Het Geluid Maastricht). LKCA (Landelijk Kennisinstituut Cultuureducatie en Amateurkunst) and DutchCulture will engage with their networks and expertise. H401 will co-ordinate the project locally and liaise with the 11 other European countries initiatives and the lead partner, Culture Action Europe, that will share outcomes directly with the European Parliament.

If you are interested to engage in the process between October 2021 and May 2021 please drop us an e-mail with the reference ‘Amplify’.

The opinions expressed in this document are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position of the European Parliament.

Co-Funded by the European Parliament

Local Partners

Studies in Black and White

Workshops on assumptions and feelings around skin colour

How can theatrical workshops offer insight into our unconscious feelings and emotions around the theme of skin colour? What is their relationship with our colonial past? How do they affect our social interaction today?

Black Lives Matter, Black Pete, the unrest with regards to monuments, cultural institutions distancing themselves from their namesake, there is a lot going on in the Netherlands and much of it seems to go back to our colonial past. Studies in Black and White is an artistic investigation into the sensitivities around racism in our society. The series of workshops is organised by Creative Court in collaboration with theatre maker and drama therapist Giselle Vegter / Hotel Eldorado in the framework of H401’s EU project Heritage Contact Zone

The three pilot workshops are on invitation only and take place on Saturday 24 October, Saturday 14 November and Saturday 5 December. Through artistic methods from the Theatre of the Oppressed (Augusto Boal) and drama therapy, we examine our experiences, feelings and emotions concerning skin colour and see how we give (other) words to them. The starting point is the idea that artistic forms of work can provide new knowledge and insights, complementing existing scientific research.

Giselle Vegter and Rabiaâ Benlahbib will work with a diverse group of 8 participants.

Due to the workshops being a pilot and the need for a curated safe space and in the light of the Corona-related health and safety protocols the workshops are by invitation only.

The findings from the workshops will inform the work of Heritage Contact Zone and the research of Creative Court in The Innocence Lab. We will share outcomes and project perspectives in early 2021 along with possibilities to engage. 

The workshops will take place at H401, Herengracht 401, Amsterdam. Each workshop lasts from 13 – 17.30h, with a half hour break. Participants attend the entire series of three workshops. We do not offer a fee for participation and the workshops are free of charge.

Studies in Black and White Pilotworkshops

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De Black Lives Matter beweging, zwarte Piet, de onrust rond standbeelden van helden met ook een keerzijde, culturele instellingen die zich distantiëren van hun naamgever, er broeit van alles in Nederland en veel van de actuele urgenties lijken terug te voeren op ons gedeelde koloniale verleden. Hoe maak je dergelijke gevoelige onderwerpen en de dilemma’s die zij oproepen bespreekbaar, op zo’n manier dat alle perspectieven de ruimte krijgen om gehoord te worden? En hoe kan dit complexe erfgoed met zijn dynamische betekenissen op een inclusieve manier worden doorgegeven aan volgende generaties?

Studies in Black and White is een meerjarig project van Creative Court in samenwerking met Giselle Vegter / Hotel Eldorado, dat bestaat uit een traject van participatief artistiek onderzoek. De pilootafleveringen vinden plaats in samenwerking met H401 en als onderdeel van het Heritage Contact Zone project.

Wij bevragen hierin hoe onze gedeelde geschiedenis van kolonialisme in onze huidige sociale interactie werkzaam is en we onderzoeken hoe vanuit onbewuste aannames en de daarmee samenhangende gevoelens en opvattingen een maatschappelijk narratief ontstaat.


Studies in Black and White

The Black Lives Matter movement, Zwarte Piet (Black Peter) in The Netherlands, the turmoil surrounding statues of heroes with a flipside, cultural institutions that distance themselves from their namesake, there is a lot brewing in the Netherlands and many of the current urges seem to be traced back to our shared colonial past. How do you make such sensitive topics and the dilemmas they raise negotiable, in such a way that all perspectives are given the space to be heard? And how can this complex heritage with its dynamic meanings be passed on to future generations in an inclusive way?

Studies in Black and White is a multi-year project of Creative Court in collaboration with Giselle Vegter/Hotel Eldorado, which consists of a trajectory of participatory artistic research. The pilot episodes will take place in collaboration with H401 and as part of the Heritage Contact Zone project.

We question how our shared history of colonialism operates in our current social interaction and we examine how a social narrative arises from unconscious assumptions and the associated feelings and views.

24 oktober 2020, 14 november, 5 december, 13 – 17.30 hrs

Due to the workshops being a pilot and the need for a curated safe space and in the light of the Corona related health and safety protocols the workshops are by invitation only. If you are are professional from heritage or culture that wants to contribute to this pilot, please write a short e-mail of motivation to l.ebert (at)

Shame! And Masculinity

A book publication edited by Ernst van Alphen for the occasion of the programme SHAME! Exploring Masculinities

New Publication due on 23 October 2020

Shame! and Masculinity addresses the complexity and contradictions of male identities from both a male as female perspective. With provocative artists’ contributions, personal stories, historic and academic perspectives, short stories it is highly topical in these times of identity politics, and counterbalancing the effects of ‘toxic’ masculinity.


Since the MeToo movement, masculine exercise of power, and sexual abuse have been widely brought under close scrutiny. The focus on ‘toxic’ masculinity impacts our perception of male sexuality, which substantially influences the self-image and self-esteem of men. Men are being shamed by others for their transgressive and contemptuous attitudes; and they feel intrinsically ashamed of their own wrong-doings or of the virulent patterns and traditions of Western manhood. This book explores both positions. It looks at the representation of male sexuality, nudity, fatherhood, male violence, rape, fascism and virility, men and war. It shows works of art that deal with the intricacies and contradictions of these socio-cultural constructs and realities. Shame! and Masculinity is hybrid in terms of genre, combining scholarly essays with short stories, personal testimonies, and provocative and intimate artist’s contributions. It stimulates reflection on shame in collusion with masculinity, from male as well as female perspectives. Thus it encourages us to reimagine these issues that simultaneously play a role in society, in our own experience, in history, and in our own bodies and being.

Editor: Ernst van Alphen
Contributors: Ernst van Alphen, Lorenzo Benadusi, Jeannette Christensen, Marlene Dumas, Adeola Enigbokan, Tijs Goldschmidt, Arnoud Holleman, Hans Hovy, Natasja Kensmil, Wahbie Long, Nalini Malani, Maaike Meijer, Philip Miller, Andrea Petö, Lotte Schröder, Artur Żmijewski, Ina van Zyl

Design: Lotte Lara Schröder
Publisher: Valiz with H401 | paperback | 208 pp.| 23,5 x 17 cm (h x w) | English | ISBN 978-94-92095-92-3 | € 25,00

H401 will organize and host an exhibition ‘Shame!: Exploring Masculinities’, curated by Ernst van Alphen, and will organize workshops and other events, from 23 October 2020 to 31 January 2021.

Keywords: Masculinity, Sexuality, Nudity, Hubris, Power, Agression, Intimacy, Art and Imagination

This is the second volume in the PLURAL series. The PLURAL series focuses on how the intersections between identity, power, representation and emancipation play out in the arts and in cultural practices. The volumes in this series aim to do justice to the plurality of voices, experiences and perspectives in society and in the arts and to address the history and present and future meaning of these positions and their interrelations. PLURAL brings together new and critical insights from cultural and social researchers, theorists, artists, arts professionals and activists. Feminist Art Activisms and Artivisms (Valiz, 2020) is the first book in the PLURAL series.

SHAME! Exploring Masculinities

Exhibition, book and (online) events

October 2020 – March 2021

Since the #MeToo movement, the connection between masculinity and power has been closely monitored. The focus on ‘toxic masculinity’ influences our perception of male sexuality and significantly affects men’s self-image and self-esteem. Men are embarrassed by others and they feel embarrassed too. This programme explores and researches the representation of male shame, nudity, fatherhood, violence, rape, fascism and virility, men and war from both male and female perspectives. This programme presents contemporary works that address the complexity and contradictions of these socio-cultural constructions and realities and combines a scientific approach with the artistic perspective, personal stories, conversations and workshops.



Curator Ernst van Alphen shows how since the 60’s the representation of masculinity in visual culture has changed significantly, with a.o. politician, stateswoman, dick by dawn, enlarged by Ina van Zyl, the universal souvenir series by Natasja Kensmil, the soundscape special boy by Philip Miller and an extensive cabinet of drawings by Marlene Dumas with never before publicly shown work such as: the sexuality of christ, man bound to his own sight, whatever happened to the greeks! and with the works of Jeanette Christensen, Arnoud Holleman and sculptures of alabaster and soapstone by Hans Hovy, a video work by Nalini Malani and chronophotographies by Artur Żmijewski.




H401 collaborated with Valiz Uitgeverij for the pubication SHAME! and masculinity with contributions by a.o. Wahbi Long, Maaike Meijer, Tijs Goldschmidt, Adeola Enigbokan, Ernst van Alphen and visual essays by the artists of the exhibition.


Video registrations events

Opening words and book launch
22 October 2020: instead of a vernissage

Guided tour through exhibition

Ernst van Alphen in conversation with participating artists

Stick to your knitting

A round-table conversation on leadership, gender and misplaced metaphor


Shame! and masculinity – the politics of bodies
Kasia Bojarska talks with Alexandra Hirszfeld, Paweł Leszkowicz and Ernst van Alphen about the publication and the exhibition SHAME! And Masculinity.

Shame! and the memory politis of illiberate states
A keynote lecture by Andrea Petó in the framework of the exhibitions Shame! and Masculinity as well as the Heritage Contact Zone Week of Contested Heritage. Petó is also an author in the publication Shame!


Mannelijkheid. Kwetsbaarheid.
Een tweegesprek met Maaike Meijer en Glenn Helberg.

Ena Jansen, Philip Miller, Marlene Dumas
SHAME! and Masculinity from a South African perspective
February 25, 2021



12 December 2020
Rob Perree in Africana

‘…For this exhibition, works by a variety of contemporary artists, both male and female, have been selected, in order to explore the issues that for centuries have determined representations of masculinity, especially, but not exclusively, of male sexuality. How self-conscious are men in the depictions of their sexuality? Is their sexuality addressed in a shameful or a shameless way? Is masculinity depending on male authority and power, or not?…’


13 January 2021
Roos van der Lint in De Groene Amsterdammer

‘….De nieuwe focus [van stichting H401] ligt meer dan ooit op het onderzoeken van de condition humaine. Goed en kwaad als twee kanten van dezelfde medaille, hoe hebben ze samen kunnen gaan aan de Herengracht 401? En wat zegt dat over ons, de menselijke natuur?

Op een wrange manier past het schaduwverhaal van Frommel en zijn kring daarmee precies bij de plek. Een geschiedenis als katalysator voor maatschappelijke problemen in het heden, here you go. Aan de vooravond van MeToo aangereikt op een presenteerblaadje.

Kunst was de mediator van [voorheen] Castrum Peregrini en is dat gebleven. Ebert wijst op een aquarel van Marlene Dumas, onderdeel van Shame! And Masculinity. Het werk ‘Identity Crisis: Men Confusing Art and Life’ (1993) toont een zittend naakt dat omlaag kijkt naar zijn erectie. Ebert: ‘Dat is in feite wat in die woongroep is misgegaan. De bewoners creëerden een soort Gesamtkunstwerk: kunst is leven en leven is kunst. Dat is utopisch te noemen, maar het kan ook tot verwarring leiden, al dan niet tot een ongezonde of toxic verwarring.’ Dat zag hij plots in dat werk van Dumas. ‘Zo’n kunstwerk is iets wat buiten jezelf staat, buiten je eigen geschiedenis, waardoor die plots bespreekbaar wordt. Zonder dat je bevooroordeeld bent. Dat is nu eindelijk mogelijk.’

11 February 2021
Sarah van Binsbergen in De Volkskrant

‘….Het is een van de manieren waarop H401 probeert het pijnlijke verleden een plek te geven, in plaats van het weg te moffelen. Met, in dit geval, de kunst als mediator.  …. Shame! and Masculinity [is] bijzonder. Na een aantal feministische golven is ‘De Man’ niet langer neutraal maar ook een geliefd studieobject, en zelden levert dat zulke gelaagde beelden op als hier. Naast de tentoonstelling is bovendien een mooi boek uitgegeven dat dieper ingaat op mannelijkheid en schaamte. En online vind je ook een programma met lezingen en interviews rondom het thema. …’


Reflections of critical friends

Merapi Obermayer onder Het Adembeneembare Heden in de serie De Kunstenaar Uitgelicht in Arti et Amicitiae, 2020

Merapi Obermayer volgde de programma reeks SHAME! Exploring Masculinities. Zowel als kunstenaar als ook als ervaringsdeskundige reflecteerde zij op het programma SHAME! and Masculinity in een reeks teksten waarin zij haar persoonlijke levensverhaal koppelt aan de thema’s uit deze reeks: schaamte, hoogmoed, misbruik, kwetsbaarheid.

Merapi Obermayer reageert op SHAME!

Op de foto staat Merapi onder haar werk Het Adembeneembare Heden in de serie De Kunstenaar Uitgelicht in Arti et Amicitiae, 2020


SHAME! And Masculinity was visited by several groups of students from Sandberg Institute, Memory Studies UvA, Artez Enschede, Amsterdam Fashion Academy,  e.a.

In the framework of their 6 weeks module ‘Gender and sexuality’ students from IArts students Maastricht had a 2 hour class with curator Ernst van Alphen at H401. Four first year IArts students then developed the project “Courage in vulnerability”:

“This project is developed within the frame of the topic Gender and sexuality that we have been working on for several weeks. It is a multifaceted topic in whose core we see the striving for acceptance and normalization of individual identities uninfluenced by our society’s norms. We believe global change towards this reality starts with the individual. In this case the individual man. This project is very personal to us as we all feel, in our own way, connected to the topic. We come from different backgrounds and cultures and bring with us our own experiences and knowledge that sparked the need to take on this project.”- Zoé Berteloot, Tagwa Ali, Brian Waltmans and Milena Dahl.


The programme was realised on collaboration with

Goethe Institut
Timisoara 2021
Etz Hayyim Synagogue
European University Institute
Living Memorial
Culture Action Europe
Creative Court
Humanity in Action


The programme is made possible with the financial support of

Impossible Journeys in Moscow

In 1676 a book with the intriguing title ‘Three exceptional and very catastrophic journeys’ was published in Amsterdam. The author of this bundle of travel stories Jan Janszoon Struys had travelled for twenty five years in the East. He had been hired as a sailmaker by the Russian tsar in 1668 to contribute to the development of the Russian fleet. Instead of that, he found himself in the middle of a civil war and was forced to move in the direction of Persia to escape riots, local conflicts, battles, sieges, murders, tortures, shipwrecks and earthquakes. Struys was even enslaved and later ransomed. During this disastrous journey Jan made many notes which are now seen as very rare first-hand description of daily life in Russia and Persia in the 17th century.

What happened to Struys in the 17th century is as meaningful for the society of his time as it is for today’s society and so the book was republished in 2006 in Russia, in 2014 The Netherlands and in 2017 in Iran. It triggers our thinking about the complex political, social and cultural perspectives on different cultural realms and the various conflicts that characterise the relationships between Russia, Iran, and The Netherlands.

H401 has received funding from a.o. Dutch culture to support curator Irina Leifer to develop an exhibition that would work with the story of Struys and related historic objects. She invited visuals artists from the Netherlands (Paulien Oltheten and Cecilia Hendrikx), Russia (Oleg Elagin and Oksana Stogova) and Iran (Sepideh Behruzian en Zeinab Shahidi Marnani) to produce new work that challenges the limitations of our cross-cultural and transhistoric perspectives. In collaboration with citizens, Irina Leifer, has done research in libraries, archives and museum collections about our shared heritage and historic objects that form the backbone of the exhibition.

This project is also part of H401 EU funded project Heritage Contact Zone.

The exhibition has been shown in Amsterdam (NL), Isfahan (IR) and Samara (RU) and is currently on show at its final destination: the Museum of Moscow, 31 January – 29 March 2020

If you are interested in the booklet of the exhibition with an essay by Kees Boterlbloem, please pick up a copy at H401 during office hours.

Here are some impressions from the opening of the exhibition in the Museum of Moscow:


We are grateful for the financial support by

Dutch Culture Shared Cultural Heritage Matching Fund; Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Moscow, Russia; Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Teheran, Iran; European Cultural Foundation and Compagnia di San Paolo; The Creative Europe Programme of the Eiuropean Comission; Mondriaan Fund; Prince Claus Fund’s Mobility Fund; Roberto Cimetta Fund; Stichting Gerbrandy Cultuurfonds; Stimuleringsfonds Creatieve Industrie; Wilhelmina E. Jansenfonds

Sept – Dec 2019

We look back on a rich programme of art, dialogue and research projects in autumn 2019. We are grateful for all the wonderful encounters, conversations and contributions by partner organisations and individuals both in our project-work as well as in public events. We wish everyone a relaxed holiday season and a good start of the new year. Looking forward to seeing you at one of our events in 2020.

Here are some impressions of the past few months

1 September 2019: Launch of PERPLEX! magazine

With Fleur Ravensbergen, Charl Landvreugd, Katherine Watson, Mirjam Shatanawi, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Adeola Enigbokan, Kenan Malik, Avraham Burg, Gloria Wekker e.a.


3 September 2019:  Wolfgang Schmidbauer on Hypermorality

A lecture organised in collaboration with Goethe Institut Niederlande and Genootschap Nederland Duitsland


In the framework of our SPEME project the month of November was all about Trauma and Memory

With workshops, lectures, panel discussions, film screening and more with contributions by Chris van der Heijden, Esther Captain, Erik Somers, Merapi Obermeier, Rabiaâ Benlahbib, Giselle Vegter, Wichert ten Have, Cristina Demaria, Neyla Pardo, Lizel Tormay and many more. (Photos by Mariano Armagno)


30 November 2019: Art as Resistance

Together with Humanity in Action the Netherlands H401 organized the symposium Popular Culture and Social Injustice: A Blessing or a Curse?


Nov/Dec 2019: On Entre by Eva Gongrijp

On Entre. A post-colonial family affair. was shown in is a cabinet exhibition with archival pieces and a Virtual Reality installation.


Art as Resistance No. 3

Popular Culture and Social Injustice: A Blessing or a Curse?

On the 30th of November 2019 the event “Art as Resistance: Popular Culture and Social Injustice: A Blessing or a Curse?“ took place at Stichting Herengracht 401. It was organized by Humanity in Action Nederland and H401 and was the third edition of a symposium of Humanity in Action Nederland and H401. The first two events occurred at H401 and Framer Framed in 2017 and dealt with the topic of involving communities and the ethics of cultural organisations. As organizers H401 and Humanity in Action Nederland are both organisations dealing with themes of collective memory and cultural identities.

The day started with a meet & greet where soup as well as coffee and tea were available at 1pm. The next hour was a chance for the speakers and the audience to meet each other and connect in a casual atmosphere.

As speakers some special women joined this edition of the “Art as Resistance” events:

Sharona Babloe is a writer, journalist and performer. After studying Literature at the UvA, she followed Humanity in Action’s summer program in 2017. Then she founded Stories of Womanhood together with Sophia Blyden.

Sophia Blyden is an entrepreneur, word artist and artist. In 2017 she followed Humanity in Action’s summer program, after which she set up Stories of Womanhood together with Sharona Babloe. 

After studying history at the Erasmus university in Rotterdam Aruna Vermeulen co-founded the HipHopHouse in Rotterdam in 2002 and has been its director ever since. The HipHopHuis has set itself the goal of realizing a wide range in the field of education, both in-house and in education. Their offer stands for a complete experience of hip hop culture with knowledge, skills and fellowship.

Angelique Houtveen studied Media, Information & Communication and was hired at BNN University. She then made radio at Radio 6, FunX, NTR and VARA, among others, and won the Marconi Award for “Up-and-coming Talent” in 2013. Currently, she is a radio DJ with hr own show “Angelique” at 3FM, makes podcasts and presents events.

Moderator and the driving force behind this event was Raissa Biekman. She holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Political Science, and a master’s degree in public administration. She specializes in International Relations. After her graduation in 2013, Raissa worked in higher education in Surinam as a lecturer and education coordinator. Today she is the program director at Human in Action Nederland.



The programme started with a video presentation about the cause and actions of Humanity in Action then Sophia kicked off the discussion with a monologue about what it means to live in a world like today where all of us try to do better but can never be perfect.

Raissa called each of the speakers to their place on the stage and the shortly explained the system of the discussion: The discussion would cover three topics: social injustice, feminism and Anti-Semitism. Per topic there would be one controversial statement or question and each of the speakers would have one minute to respond to those before the discussion with each other and the audience started.

While the discussion was focused on the three topics named above it covered a variety of different aspects dealing with artists, popular culture and social media. There was an exchange whether or not artists should use their platform to fight against social injustice or if society cannot demand that from them since their platform is also their business and they risk to lose that by participating in such things.  Another part in the discussion focused more on the so-called “cancel-culture” which can be witnessed on social media right. “Cancel-culture” means not only that popular figures are “cancelled” on social media after making a public mistake regarding things like the topics above but also that these do not get booked for events anymore or lose their spots in important programs for a long time. The question arose if that was the right way to deal with those people or if there was maybe another way if people were willing to acknowledging their mistakes and learn from them.

Overall it was an engaged conversation with many different views and good ideas from both the speakers and the audience. Raissa did a great job moderating the talk always being on top of the time and trying to pick people from all the positions in the audience equally. To sum up the contents of the talk one could use a quote that appeared at the end of the conversation from the audience and really got to the core of all the problems discussed: “Who is being hurt and who is being heard?

Afterwards, the talk between the different people in the audience continued in the bar area of H401 where they could enjoy a drink or another cup of soup. Overall it was an informative and insightful afternoon at H401

These notes were taken by Marie Diekmann, volunteer 2019 Action Reconciliation Service for Peace (ASF)


Am 3. September 2019 hielt Wolfgnag Schmidtbauer bei H401 einen Vortrag mit dem Titel ‘Helikoptermoral’ als Teil einer gemeinsamen Veranstaltungsreihe von H401, dem Goethe-Institut Niederlande und der Genootschap Nederland-Duitsland. Wir bieten Ihnen hier den Text zum Nachlesen an.



Zur Sozialpsychologie schneller Urteile

Von Wolfgang Schmidbauer

Charakteristisch für die Helikoptermoral ist das schnelle, dramatische Urteil, das die klassische Gewaltenteilung völlig ignoriert: Anklage ist Schuldspruch. Der Beschuldigte verliert Stellung und Ansehen, ehe die Vorwürfe geklärt sind. Die Helikoptermoral steht für eine Art moralischer Punktlandung, die mächtig Wind macht, alles durcheinanderbläst und oft mit Getöse so schnell wieder abhebt, wie sie landete. Sie ist mit dem Terrorismus insofern verwandt, als auch sie viel Theatralisches hat und sich der Orientierung an einem stabilen Austausch, an Versöhnung und Toleranz entzieht.

Gegenüber dem von den Helikopterflügeln aufgewirbelten  Shitstorm ist der Gerichtssaal selbst für Menschen, deren Tätigkeit von der Öffentlichkeit geprägt ist, der reinste Fronturlaub. Die Medien werden mit pikanten Details und oft genug mit Auszügen aus Akten gefüttert, die vertraulich sein sollten.  So unfertig kann eine Ermittlung gar nicht sein, sie wird jemandem zugespielt und steht Stunden später im Internet.

Dadurch gerät nun wiederum das Gericht in Zugzwang. Sobald die Öffentlichkeit mit Vorverurteilungen getränkt ist, wird kaum ein Gericht wagen, ein Verfahren einzustellen. Man würde sich dem Verdacht aussetzen, mit ungleichem Maß zu messen und den Sturm der Entrüstung auf sich selbst ziehen.

Die Schere zwischen einer gerechten Strafe für Verfehlungen und einem zerstörten Leben öffnet sich immer weiter. Das Moralgeschrei übertönt jede nüchterne Frage, was denn nun wirklich geschehen ist. In Zeiten der Helikoptermoral explodiert angesichts eines ersten Verdachts das bisher gesammelte Ansehen. Die Scherben treffen die Umstehenden, ruinieren ein paar weitere Karrieren oder drohen das zu tun. Für die Schäden steht niemand grade.

Die Verwandtschaft der Helikoptermoral zu dem als „Helikoptereltern“ beschriebenen Phänomen liegt auf der Hand. Ein erstes Beispiel:

Es ist viele Jahre her. Meine älteste Tochter, eine zierliche und energische Person, war im Alter von zehn Jahren zum ersten Mal in der Münchner U-Bahn unterwegs. Eine ältere Dame beobachtete das Kind,  das stolz auf den eigenen Mut zu einer Freundin reiste. Sie sagte: „So jung und ganz allein unterwegs? Ja weißt du nicht, wie gefährlich das ist?“  Zuhause berichtete das Kind, an sich habe die Fahrt Spaß gemacht und es sei leicht gewesen, sich zurechtzufinden, aber diese Bemerkung habe sie geängstigt und verwirrt. „Was hätte ich ihr denn sagen sollen?“

Neben anderem verrät die Frage der besorgten Frau, wie leicht sich eine narzisstische Gratifikation gewinnen lässt, indem man quasi die Federchen der eigenen Weitsicht spreizt. Im Zugabteil einen erigierten Penis zu zeigen ist strafbar; der wertende, pädagogisch auftretende Exhibitionismus aber kommt nicht nur ungestraft davon, er führt auch zu einem guten Gewissen, selbst wenn die peinlichen Folgen für das Opfer nicht zu leugnen sind.

Gleichzeitig wird aus der Szene deutlich, wie die moralische Belehrung der Angstabwehr dient. Psychoanalytiker vermuten, dass auch die exhibitionistische Perversion der Abwehr von Ängsten dient, das eigene Genitale könnte nicht attraktiv genug sein und sich in der Weiblichkeit auflösen wie eine Träne im Ozean. Ähnlich überwindet die Frau, die das unternehmungslustige Kind ängstigt, ihre eigene Angst, nicht mütterlich genug zu sein, indem sie dem Kind einerseits zu nahe tritt, anderseits es mit den nun geweckten Ängsten alleine lässt.

Es geht ganz und gar nicht darum, die Moral zu tadeln. Es geht um ihren Missbrauch, um den Übereifer, die Grenzüberschreitung im Dienst narzisstischer Bedürfnisse der Eiferer. Moral kann missbraucht werden, ebenso wie eine Waffe oder Körperkraft. Sie kann der Sensationslust dienen oder dem pharisäischen Schauder angesichts der Minderwertigkeit Dritter. Dann führt sie zu dünkelhafter Besserwisserei im Privaten wie in der Politik. Sie führt dazu, dass Konflikte blutig eskalieren, weil einer Seite ein Abgrund an moralischem Versagen zugeschrieben wird, der durch Verhandlungen nicht überbrückt werden kann.

Es ist eine Eigentümlichkeit der psychoanalytischen Sozialpsychologie, individuelle und politische Aspekte zu verknüpfen. Angesichts der Helikoptermoral geht es um die Frage nach den Ursachen und den Folgen für das Individuum und für die Gesellschaft. Ein wichtiges Bindeglied ist die Orientierung der Konsumgesellschaften an Einzelereignissen, an Events, die sich besser fassen und bewerten lassen – mit dem Nachteil eines Verlustes von vorausschauendem und umfassendem Planen. Nicht nur in der Ethik, auch in Wirtschaft und Politik werden Verhältnismäßigkeit und Spätfolgen wenig beachtet. In dem Bestreben, tatkräftig, zupackend, vorausschauend zu scheinen gehen diese Werte verloren.

Eine wichtige Qualität der Helikoptermoral, welche auch die Befriedigung narzisstischer Bedürfnisse beleuchtet, ist der Sturz eines Idols. Die Entwertung einer Person, die für etwas Besseres gehalten wurde, bläht das eigene Ego. Das Opfer muss damit rechnen, dass harmlose Taten, die es längst verjährt und überwunden glaubt, plötzlich wiederentdeckt und mit großer Wucht auf sein gegenwärtiges Leben gelegt werden, wie eine der Folien, welch dem darunter durchscheinenden Bild eine ganz neue Bedeutung geben.

Wo es viel zu verdrängen und daher auch aufzudecken gibt, sind diese Stürze besonders dramatisch. Verdrängt und verleugnet wurde 1945 in Deutschland vielleicht mehr als in allen anderen Jahren und Ländern der Geschichte. Man möchte ja glauben, dass sich moralische Urteile nicht für geistigen Wettkampf eignen, wie sonst sportliche Leistungen oder die Fähigkeit, Quizfragen zu beantworten. Aber in den Kontext der Helikoptermoral gehört das Streben, sich der Überlegenheit des eigenen Urteils zu vergewissern. Und kaum etwas eignet sich besser für eine Demonstration dieser Überlegenheit, als eine moralische Instanz erst auf den Sockel zu heben, und sie dann mit Getöse herunter zu stürzen. Seht, er ist ein schlechter Mensch, ein Lügner, und er hat uns weismachen wollen, er sei etwas Besseres, ein Nobelpreisträger!

Der deutsche Schriftsteller Günther Grass ist als 17jähriger zur Waffen-SS eingezogen worden. Von ihm war bisher bekannt, er sei kurz Soldat und vorher ein vom Nationalsozialismus begeisterter Jugendlicher gewesen. Die erlebbare Differenz zwischen Wehrmacht und Waffen-SS war 1945 für einen 17jährigen minimal. Grass hatte nie behauptet, 1945 gegen die Nazis gewesen zu sein, im Gegenteil. Er betonte persönlich und beschrieb meisterhaft in der Blechtrommel, wie  Großdeutschland außen zur Verzwergung im Inneren führte.

Nun sprach Grass in einem Interview zu seiner Lebensgeschichte („Vom Häuten der Zwiebel“) von den SS-Runen an seinem Kragen und erzählte in dem Buch selbst, in welches Chaos, in welche Angst und Verwirrung ihn die Erlebnisse damals versetzt hatten, wie er unter einem Panzer lag und sich in die Hose machte. Der Bericht ist anschaulich, mit Abstand zu sich selbst und zu anderen. Was aber folgte, war ein moralischer Sturm, der vor allem um zwei Themen kreiste: Erstens: Er hat es uns zu spät gesagt! Wir hätten ein Recht gehabt, es früher zu erfahren! Weil er es so spät gesagt hat, muss es auch ein viel schlimmeres moralisches Versagen enthalten als wir bisher dachten! Zweitens: Wer bei der SS war, wird für immer ein Nazi bleiben.

Die Folie des SS-Täters wurde praktisch auf das Konterfei des Demokraten gelegt, der von nun an jedes Recht auf die ihm  zugeschriebene Rolle der „moralischen Instanz“ in Deutschland verloren habe.

Dass ein Autor bizarrer, emotionale Tiefen aufrührender Romane allein deshalb zur „moralischen Instanz“ erhoben wird, weil er berühmt ist und politisch Farbe bekennt, gehört in diesen Kontext.

Grass hat es sich nicht als Verdienst angerechnet, dass er nie auf Menschen geschossen, sondern als Ladeschütze Dienst getan hat. Aber es war, als hätte er an einem frühen Punkt seiner Biographie eine rote Fahne gehisst und einen weißen Kreis gezogen, den Landplatz für die unterschiedlichsten Helikopter mit moralischer Fracht. Wenn es dem Schriftsteller auf Dauer nicht geschadet hat – es lag auf jeden Fall nicht an einem Mangel an moralischem Getöse und strafender Energie von Seiten seiner Sittenrichter.

Die damalige Präsidentin des Zentralrats der Juden in Deutschland, Charlotte Knobloch, war überzeugt, es handle sich bei dem „späten Geständnis“ um einen PR-Trick zur Beförderung des Verkaufs seines neuen Buches. Der Journalist und Hitler-Biograf Joachim Fest, in Historikerkreisen wegen seiner unkritischen Haltung gegenüber Hitlers Rüstungsminister Albert Speer sehr umstritten, „verstand“ überhaupt nicht, wie sich Grass 60 Jahre lang  zum schlechten Gewissen der Nation hatte machen können, ohne zu bekennen, dass er selbst tief verstrickt war.

Der polnische Politiker Lech Walesa meinte,  Grass müsse die Ehrenbürgerschaft der Stadt Danzig ablegen. Mehrere Politiker aus den Reihen der Christdemokraten  (Wolfgang Börnsen und Philipp Mißfelder) forderten Grass auf, den Nobelpreis für Literatur zurückzugeben, als ob diese Auszeichnung für politisch korrektes Verhalten verliehen würde.

Mehrere Moralhelikopter, von Journalisten besetzt,  landeten bei der schwedischen Nobelstiftung und fragten an, ob man Grass nicht den Preis aberkennen oder ihn zur Rückgabe zwingen solle. Der Direktor der Stiftung, Michael Sohlman, verwies auf die Nobel-Statuten. Der Preis wurde noch nie zurückgenommen.

Es werden nicht Taten bewertet, nicht einmal Gesinnungen, sondern Symbole, vieldeutige Zugehörigkeiten. Mit diesen frühen Zugehörigkeiten und den sie umgebenden Symbolen sollen die moralisch Überfallenen in einer ganz bestimmten Weise umgehen, deren Mangel umso energischer festgestellt wird, je überzeugter der Urteilende von seiner Überlegenheit ist.

Ein zweites, aktuelles Beispiel.

Zwei Hollywood-Größen, Harvey Weinstein und Kevin Spacey, sind 2017 wegen sexueller Übergriffe nicht nur ins Gerede, sondern auch ins Visier der Staatsanwaltschaft geraten.  Wenn solchen Tätern der Prozess gemacht wird und sie nach einem Urteil die Möglichkeit verlieren, ihre Macht zu missbrauchen,  ist das nur zu begrüßen. Wenn freilich der Verdacht ausreicht, um Karrieren zu vernichten, ist das schon weniger schön. Es hat den Geschmack von Lynchjustiz, sobald Zeugnisse in den Medien ausreichen, um verwerfliches Verhalten für bewiesen zu halten und Sanktionen zu verhängen.

Vollends irrational wird die Szene, wenn jetzt gefordert wird, Spacey seine beiden Oscars „abzuerkennen“. Logisch ist es, dem dopenden Olympiasieger die Goldmedaille abzunehmen. Aber hat ein Künstler das Preisgericht betrogen, sobald er moralisch versagt?

Solche Verzerrungen haben eine Vorgeschichte. Sie sprechen dafür, dass in der Mediengesellschaft Götzen so gut geschaffen werden wie Dämonen. Das Publikum sieht den Star nicht realistisch. Er wird idealisiert.  So wird ihm eine Art Allmacht,  ein rundum perfekter Charakter zugeschrieben. Weicht er nun von diesem Ideal ab, räumen Idealisierungen ihren Platz nicht dem nüchternen Urteil über Verdienste und Fehler, Stärken und Schwächen. Es geht viel dramatischer zu. Mit einem Schlag ist alles schlecht.

Die Anbeter schämen sich jetzt der eigenen Anbetung. Sie wenden sie in ihr Gegenteil, tilgen den erlebten Makel ihres Urteils, indem sie der einst überhöhten Figur alle Vorzüge aberkennen und am liebsten vorgeben, es hätte deren preiswürdige Leistungen so wenig gegeben wie ihr eigene Verblendung.

Wenn wir dieses Drama zu Ende denken, landen wir bei einem eindimensionalen Bild der Kunst. Sie hat sich moralischen Kriterien zu unterwerfen, sie darf nicht ihre eigenen Gesetze haben. Wer mit 17 Jahren Mitglied der Waffen-SS geworden ist und das verschwiegen hat, wird keine preiswürdige Literatur schreiben, und wenn wir eine Weile von ihm gedacht haben, er hätte es doch gekonnt, dann muss er den Preis wieder zurückgeben, weil er uns angeschwindelt hat. Wenn ein Schauspieler jungen Männern an die Genitalien fasst, kann er kein guter Schauspieler sein, und wenn wir ihn doch dafür gehalten haben, nehmen wir das jetzt zurück.

Ein solcher Ansatz hält sich nicht mit historischen Einwänden auf. Sonst würde doch auffallen, wie wenig moralische Untadeligkeit und künstlerische Kreativität in Deckung gebracht werden können. Zeitgenössische Dokumente sprechen dafür, dass Benvenuto Cellini ein Totschläger und Leonardo da Vinci pädophil war. Reflektiert und ironisch hat uns Thomas Mann die unterirdische Verwandtschaft von moralischem Versagen und künstlerischer Leistung vor Augen gestellt; von Tristan bis zum Tod in Venedig und dem Doktor Faustus zieht sich dieses Thema durch seine Werke.

Wir wissen es nur allzu genau, wenn wir überhaupt etwas von solchen Dimensionen wissen wollen: Menschen sind jederzeit verführbar und durch Begabung und Ruhm ganz und gar nicht vor bösen Taten geschützt. Man kann sich fragen, warum es gegenwärtig so schwer geworden ist, sich das zu vergegenwärtigen. Womöglich wächst angesichts der Komplexizität der vernetzten Gesellschaften auch das Bedürfnis nach dem durch und durch guten Helden.

Es fällt uns schwer, zu ertragen, dass wir es nach einer Enttäuschung nicht aus der Welt schaffen können, einmal geliebt und verehrt zu haben. Das kränkt und raubt uns die Zuversicht, die Welt im Griff zu haben. Wer mit Menschen zu tun hat, die von einer Liebesbeziehung verletzt wurden, beobachtet häufig, wie alle Erinnerungen gelöscht oder umgefärbt werden, die darauf hinweisen könnten, dass eine jetzt verachtete Person früher einmal hochgeschätzt und bewundert wurde.

Diese Reaktion ist nicht nur unreif, sie ist auch gefährlich. Sie reduziert das Erleben auf unversöhnliche Pole. In der Phantasie einer totalen Ausgrenzung des Unerwünschten und Unkorrekten wurzelt bereits die nächste Welle von Beschönigung und Verleugnung. Wer von einem gefeierten, in den Himmel gehobenen Idol enttäuscht wurde, wird in der Regel nicht bescheiden und kritisch, nein, er sucht sich ein noch höher gehobenes, noch weniger in der Realität verankertes Idealbild.

Im Shitstrom, in der moralischen Lynchjustiz öffentlicher Vorurteile und Vorverurteilungen muss alles schnell gehen. Wir verlieren die zentrale Qualität guter Kunst und guter Politik: die geduldige Übung, letztlich die Freude am Üben, fernab vom Streben nach schnellem Erfolg.

Wer als Künstler die Geduld und Ausdauer aufgebracht hat, Großes zustande zu bringen, verdient Respekt. Nicht Anbetung, nicht blinde Verehrung, nicht Unterwerfung, sobald er seine Macht missbraucht. Gute Kunst ist ohne Kritik der narzisstischen Phantasie von Unfehlbarkeit gar nicht möglich. Wer sich überschätzt,  bringt die Geduld nicht auf, sein Handwerk selbstkritisch zu lernen.

Ohne narzisstische Grandiosität fehlt uns der Mut zur Selbstverwirklichung und zum schöpferischen Tun. Die Phantasie von Eigenmacht und Unwiderstehlichkeit beflügelt den Menschen – und sie bringt ihn in Gefahr. Die Grenze zwischen dem gesunden und dem pathologischen Narzissmus ist nicht leicht zu finden, so wenig wie die Grenze zwischen schmeichlerischer Unterwürfigkeit und kritischem Wohlwollen. Die Entgleisung der Großen in Hollywood ist persönliche Pathologie und Versagen der Zivilgesellschaft in einem. Wenn Stars in eine narzisstische Blase gesetzt werden, in der sie jeden Tag nur hören, wie unwiderstehlich sie sind, dann werden sie am Ende unausstehlich.

Die Stars im antiken Rom waren Feldherrn, die der Senat mit einem Triumphzug ehrte. Zu dessen Ritual gehörten nicht nur die Parade der Legionäre und der Zug der Gefangenen, sondern auch ein Sklave, der hinter dem mit Lorbeer bekränzten Sieger stand und immer nur den einen Satz sagte: Gedenke, dass du sterblich bist!

Solche Bedenken werden wir auf keiner Oskar-Verleihung finden, so wenig wie den Gedanken an eine nachträgliche Aberkennung von Triumphzügen im römischen Senat. Je mehr die Mediengesellschaft den menschlichen Narzissmus stimuliert und Gestalten wie Berlusconi und Trump nach oben spült, desto deutlicher wird doch auch, wie gefährdet wir von Rückschritten in einem geduldigen und konstruktiven Umgang mit dem menschlichen Größen- und Geltungsstreben sind. Blinde Heldenverehrung und rücksichtslose Entwertung des gefallenen Stars lenken davon ab, dass die Welt zu komplex für schnelle Lösungen ist, so sehr wir uns nach diesen sehnen mögen. Ein moralischer Narzissmus, der sich in der Entwertung des einst Gefeierten austobt, ist das gerade Gegenteil einer Moral, die unsere Gesellschaft zukunftsfähiger macht.

Es ist nicht ganz richtig, von einer Emotionalisierung in Politik und Wirtschaft zu sprechen, die sich beispielsweise in der großen Zahl von Wechselwählern ausdrücke. In allem Denken, auch im gründlichen und entsprechend langsamen spielen Emotionen eine Rolle. Gefährlich sind die schnellen, die radikalen Urteile, die plakativen Aussagen über richtig und falsch, die Haudraufreden, welche uns vorgaukeln, es sei möglich, sich ein für alle Mal vom Allzumenschlichen zu befreien.

Wir sind in einen narzisstischen Teufelskreis geraten. Je mehr die Entscheidungsträger im öffentlichen Leben durch Hyperaktivität und einander das Wort Abschneiden um Aufmerksamkeit kämpfen, desto weniger interessieren sich die Bürger noch für ihre als winzig und bedeutungslos erlebten Möglichkeiten demokratischer Teilhabe.

Die Entwicklung der Eventkultur seit dem Ende des kalten Krieges erfüllt Abwehrfunktionen, von denen in der klassischen psychoanalytischen Kulturkritik nicht die Rede sein konnte. Freud stellte sich technische “Prothesen” vor, wie die Eisenbahn, das Flugzeug, das Telefon. Aber emotionale Prothesen, wie sie die Kulturindustrie liefert, haben sich erst nach seinem Tod zu ihrer heutigen Erlebnisdominanz entwickelt.

Wenn wir Freuds Bild vom „Prothesengott“ weiterdenken, kommen wir zum Event als Ware und zur Ware als Event. Die Entwicklung ist in zwei Richtungen gegangen: in die Software der Kulturindustrie, der Soaps, der medialen Ereignisse, die – wie Star Wars – die unterschiedlichsten Warenwelten vom Spielzeug bis zur Halloween-Maske prägen und so das Gesamtkunstwerk Event schaffen.

Die zweite Richtung betrifft die Prothesen selbst. Sie sind heute weit mehr als Prothesen, sie sind ein zweites Leben. Die Konsumgüter tendieren dazu, Menschen zu ihrem Anhängsel zu machen, zu einem Problemfaktor, der als Autofahrer zu langsam ist, um die Stärke seines Motors und die Intelligenz seines Bordcomputers zu beherrschen, als Bildschirmarbeiter zu beschränkt, um die technischen Weiten seines Systems zu erfassen, als Handyeigner zu blind, um anders als ein Maulwurf auf gebahnten Gängen durch die Vielfalt und den Reichtum an Funktionen und Apps zu laufen.

Die Person eines „Führers“, die Freud noch als Antidepressivum und Werkzeug manischer Gleichschaltung der menschlichen Masse interpretiert hat, löst sich in der Eventkultur auf. An ihre Stelle treten einzelne Warenereignisse oder Ereigniswaren, die sehr viel mächtiger und einflussreicher, aber in ihren Einflussmöglichkeiten auch schwerer voraussagbar sind. Davon lebt die neue Berufsklasse des Medienberaters, ohne den sich viele Vorstandsvorsitzende und Politiker ihre Tätigkeit nicht mehr vorstellen können. Diese Berater sorgen dafür, dass die heutigen „Führer“ sich selbst zu einer Kette von Ereignissen stilisieren und so ihre Popularität erhalten.

Nicht die Menschen gestalten die Ereignisse, die Ereignisse reißen die Mächtigen in ihren Sog, spülen sie nach oben oder verschlingen sie, wie den Ex-Bundespräsidenten Christian Wulff.  Medien, Mediengestalter und die Medien beherrschende Gestalten greifen wie Zahnräder ineinander. Es ist nicht mehr erkennbar, wer jetzt was wann bewegt.

Wenn wir die Eventkultur als Dienerin einer manischen Abwehr identifizieren – was wird abgewehrt?


1. Sinnlosigkeit

Die traditionellen Antworten auf diese Frage haben sich mit dem Glauben an einen Schöpfer erledigt. Aber die Sinnfrage ist nach wie vor von vielen Menschen emotional besetzt. Sie beruht zum Teil auf einer Extrapolation, welche dem Menschen durch seinen reflexiven Geist möglich ist. Vieles, was ich tue, geschieht in der Absicht, ein Ziel zu erreichen. Da muss doch das Ganze meines Erlebens zielgerichtet, sinnhaft sein!

Freud hat die Frage, ob das menschliche Leben einen Sinn habe, als unzulässig abgewehrt – schließlich frage niemand nach dem Sinn des Lebens der Tiere. Religion trägt viele Menschen emotional nicht mehr,  sie schützt wenig vor Gefühlen der Sinnlosigkeit. Der Event hat den Vorzug, dass er den Mangel an diesem langfristigen Sinn des Lebens durch Intensität ersetzt. So lange ich an dem Ereignis teilhabe, löst sich die Sinnfrage auf.


2. Wertunsicherheit

Dominante Inszenierungen der Eventkultur drehen sich um Wettbewerbe. Wer gewinnt, beweist seinen Wert. In der Eventwelt werden Wettbewerbe inszeniert und aufgebläht: nicht ein (Pseudo)Experte bewertet Anfänger, die etwas werden wollen; “Deutschland” sucht den “Superstar”. Die Zuschauer können sich durch Händeklatschen oder Telefonanrufe in die Rolle der Jury setzten, Sieger bestimmen und Unterlegene. Wer andere bewertet, schützt sich vor eigenen Ängsten vor Wertlosigkeit.


3. Exhibitionistische Frustration

Die Leitkultur des 19. Jahrhunderts kam aus England und betonte, protestantisch-puritanisch gefärbt, die Tugenden des Understatement. In Preußen hieß es “mehr sein als scheinen”. Einer der ersten, der mit diesem Tabu brach war der Boxer Cassius Clay. Sein Slogan “ich bin der Größte” sicherte ihm Aufmerksamkeit und hämische Kritik in einem. Die Häme ist verstummt, die Aufmerksamkeit geblieben, der Boxer wurde zum Modell des eventorientierten Sportlers.

Immer übersteigt die Zahl derer, die nach dem Ruhm haschen, die Zahl derer, die tatsächlich zu ihm vordringen. Ein Beleg sind die vielen Kopien, die jede reale und selbst virtuelle Figur produziert, welche den begehrten Glanz gewonnen hat: Elvis Presley oder Marilyn Monroe, Harry Potter oder Luke Skywalker.



In der globalisierten Gesellschaft dominieren Unübersichtlichkeit und mit ihr Ängste, sich in komplexen Zusammenhängen zu irren, sich täuschen zu lassen, Fehler zu machen. Die Eventkultur bietet eine Ersatzbefriedigung, welche diese Ängste abwehrt, indem sie “Durchblick” und “Kontrolle” über das aktuelle Ereignis verspricht.

Die meisten Schlagzeilen der Boulevardpresse erzeugen “menschliche” Events, die jeder verstehen und bewerten kann. Typisch für die Eventkultur ist, dass kein Massenmedium auf den Event verzichten wird. So gewinnt er seine unentrinnbare Qualität.


5. Monotonie

Der Event wehrt die Monotonie ab, welche durch Arbeitsanforderungen entsteht, in denen immer das Gleiche erledigt werden soll. Im Jahresablauf verwurzelte Ereignisse werden zu Events gesteigert: Der Weihnachtsmarkt, das Silvesterfeuerwerk, der Fasching/Karneval. Neue Bräuche werden importiert, z.B. Halloween.

Als meine Älteste 1987 Abitur feierte, saßen wir in Straßenklamotten in der Turnhalle an Tischen, es gab Brezeln und Bier, das Schulorchester spielte, die Zeugnisse wurden formlos ausgehändigt. Als 2002 meine Jüngste dran war, trug sie ein ausgeschnittenes schwarzes  Kleid, die Räume waren angemietet, es kostete Eintritt, es gab Champagner, die Zeugnisverteilung war mit dramatischer Musik untermalt und um eine Darbietung im Stil einer Oscar-Verleihung bereichert, in der jeweils drei Anwärterinnen oder Anwärter für Titel wie “die süßeste Maus” oder “das Mädchen mit den schwärzesten Augenringen” nominiert waren und dann die Gewinnerin ausgerufen wurde.


6. Angst

Eine wesentliche Qualität des Events ist, dass er in vielen Beteiligten gleiche Gefühle weckt und sie daher von Phantasien der Vereinsamung und Vereinzelung befreit. Der Event ist totalitär und flüchtig zugleich: totalitär, weil er alle Sinne beansprucht, flüchtig, weil er alsbald dem nächsten Event seinen Platz überlassen muss und sich sozusagen durch die eigene Über-Präsenz selbst abnützt. So tritt der Event an die Stelle des idealisierten Führers, der die Massen zusammenschweißt.

Die Analyse der Eventkultur zeigt, wie tief die Antriebe zur Helikoptermoral in der globalisierten Unübersichtlichkeit wurzeln. Das alte Motto von leben und leben lassen gerät unter den Druck, dass sich alle um ein einziges Ereignis kümmern müssen, dessen Lösbarkeit zum Symbol für das Ganze wird, wo noch Siege möglich sind oder wenigstens ein Ringen um den Sieg in ein vorläufiges Unentschieden führt.

Die Helikoptermoral entlastet kurzfristig und belastet auf lange Sicht, weil viel Energie für Verleugnungen vergeudet wird. Sie erhebt sich über den Kompromiss, über die Suche nach dem kleineren Übel, über die Toleranz für Widersprüche und die Bereitschaft zu verzeihen, was nun einmal nicht mehr ungeschehen gemacht werden kann.

Im Erleben des Kindes spaltet sich früh das Mutterbild: es gibt die gute, nähernde, bestätigende Mutter, und die böse, geizige, strafende. Entsprechend zweigeteilt sind Wahrnehmung und Weltentwurf: es gibt richtig und falsch, Goldmarie und Pechmarie, Idylle und Schauder.

Ähnlich dem Faschismus und dem religiösen Fundamantalismus fügt sich auch die Helikoptermoral in eine Reihe von Erscheinungen, die etwas wie eine Dialektik der Moderne erschließen: je komplexer die Welterfahrung, je zahlreicher die Lebensalternativen, je schwieriger die Orientierung in Wirtschaft und Politik, desto größer auch die Sehnsucht nach einfachen Lösungen, nach dem Steuergesetz auf dem Bierdeckel und der Scharia.


Die Abschaffung der Tragödie

Die Selbstmord-Attentate auf das World Trade Center haben die zivilisierte Welt erschüttert.  Es erinnert an Motive antiker Tragödien, dass gerade der Versuch, solchen Gefahren zu begegnen, am 24. März 2015 in eine neue Tragödie geführt hat. Die  sichere Tür, die nur von innen freigegeben werden kann, ermöglichte es einem kranken Copiloten, in tödlicher Ruhe auf eine Felswand zu rasen. Der hilflose Pilot konnte nichts tun.

Wer in den aufgeregten Tagen nach dem ersten Verdacht die Kommentare studierte, entdeckte typische Muster der Helikoptermoral: Absolutes Unverständnis, Larmoyanz über die Rätsel der Seele, Anklage gegen die Grausamkeit eines Täters, der – statt sich in einem Winkel alleine umzubringen – hundertfünfzig Unschuldige mit in den Tod nimmt. Auf der Pegida-Website überboten sich Kommentatoren in der Überzeugung, der Täter sei entweder verrückt oder ein islamischer Konvertit, gefolgt von höhnischer Zustimmung: Das mache doch keinen Unterschied, sei ohnehin ein und dasselbe.

In kaum einem Beruf, ausgenommen vielleicht die Chirurgen, werden seelische Probleme und Gefahren für die Arbeitsfähigkeit, wie der Konsum von Psychopharmaka oder Alkohol, so energisch verleugnet wie unter Piloten. Fliegen ist für den Menschen ein Traum. Wer ihn sich beruflich erfüllen kann, festigt in der Regel eine professionelle Haltung gegenüber narzisstischen Verführungen. Aber der erreichte Gleichgewicht ist prekär. Auch wenn es meistens gelingt, den Kindertraum vom Fliegen in eine berufliche Rolle umzuwandeln: Diese Transformation ist weder einfach noch stabil.

Der Pilot fühlt sich auf einer emotionalen Ebene eins mit seinem Flugzeug. Er hat erlebt, wie ihn sein Beruf aufwertet. Umso schlimmer ist für narzisstisch bedürftige Menschen die Phantasie, ein Versager zu sein. Die Angst vor Fluguntauglichkeit kann eine verhängnisvolle Phantasie der kalten Rache am eigenen Ich und an seinen Prothesen inszenieren. So banal es klingt, so grausam die Folgen sind: der 27jährige Copilot hat vermutlich in den letzten fünf Minuten seines Lebens nur an sich gedacht.

Unserer Moderne ist die Tragödie abhanden gekommen. Das tragische Ereignis, das niemand voraussehen und verhindern kann, weckt nicht Ehrfurcht, Trauer und das Gefühl, selbst davon gekommen zu sein. Es weckt die hektische Suche nach einem Fehler und nach einem Schuldigen. Wenn wir den Schuldigen finden, ihn bestrafen, ihn energisch genug aus dem Spiel nehmen – „einsperren, und zwar für immer!“ – können wir den Wahn festigen, es gäbe eine von Tragödien befreite Welt.

Der depressive Pilot, der den tödlichen Flug programmiert, ist eine tragische Figur, ein absoluter Einzelgänger und Einzeltäter, der nicht nur sich selbst seinem grandiosen Traum opfert, sondern seine Pflicht, die ihm anvertrauten Passagiere sicher ans Ziel zu bringen, in ihr mörderisches Gegenteil verkehrt. Aber sogleich wird der Ruf laut, alle Piloten auf Depressionen zu untersuchen und für sie das Ärztegeheimnis aufzuheben.

Die Pointe ist, dass im Versuch, den Terroristen zu blockieren, der Pilot mehr Macht gewinnt, als ihm zuträglich ist. Das gilt im Detail wie in der Politik: die Terrorismus-Abwehr hat seit dem Angriff auf die Twin Towers weit mehr Unschuldige das Leben gekostet als die Attacke selbst.

Kant hat gegen einfache moralische Lösungen die schöne Metapher vom krummen Holz entwickelt, aus dem nichts Gerades gezimmert werden könne.[1] Das war der Gedanke einer vorindustriellen Welt; Kants gründliches Denken mit seinen wenigen Grundsätzen ist ein Gegenmodell zur Helikoptermoral von heute. Aber die Bedingungen haben sich extrem verändert. Kants Metapher hat eine solide, handwerkliche Qualität. Er hat die Schiffsbauer in Königsberg beobachtet. Sie ernteten die Holz in Eichenwäldern, in denen Bäume zu krummem Wachstum gezwungen wurden, um Spanten für den Rumpf eines Schiffes zu gewinnen.

Seit die Welt der Dinge sich in atemberaubendem Tempo erweitert und verändert, haben wir den handwerklichen Umgang mit den moralischen Fragen (und letztlich auch mit der menschlichen Belastbarkeit) verloren. Wir sind nicht Prothesengötter, sondern Prothesensklaven; die Prothesen sind nicht nur stärker, sondern vor allem auch schneller als wir, und deshalb können wir nicht mehr Schritt halten mit ihnen. Und wenn wir es versuchen, werden unsere Urteile hastig und unsere Gegenmaßnahmen richten mehr Schaden an als das tragische Ereignis selbst.

Hier wird die narzisstische Motivation hinter der Helikoptermoral besonders deutlich. Indem die tragische Qualität des menschlichen Lebens geleugnet wird, hypertrophiert die moralische Erregung zu hektischen Forderungen an „Verantwortliche“. Wer auf dem Weg stolpert und sich den Knöchel bricht, denkt nicht mehr über sein Pech oder sein Ungeschick nach, sondern sucht nach einem Schuldigen, von dem er Wiedergutmachung seines Schadens einklagen kann.

Es wird nicht gemeinsam über den Schatten getrauert, den die Hybris des Menschen wirft und in dem so viele Gefahren gedeihen – es wird nach Regeln und Konstruktionen gesucht, die diese Gefahr beseitigen und damit neue Gefahren schaffen.

Der Helikoptermoral entspricht ein Phänomen, das im angelsächsischen Sprachraum Hindsight genannt wird, symmetrisch zur Voraussicht oder Vorausschau (Foresight), die es auch im Deutschen gibt.

Wer aus der Hindsight doziert, macht sich des billigen geistigen Triumphes verdächtig. Dennoch ist diese Argumentation in der Helikoptermoral höchst beliebt. Sie fördert Denkweisen, von denen die Konsumenten kaum genug kriegen können: Beweise der eigenen geistigen Überlegenheit gegenüber den Verantwortlichen, die einen Fehler gemacht haben und nun dumm dastehen – es hätte doch jeder sehen können, dass das nicht so ausgehen würde wie geplant.

Das Symposion narzisstischer Triumphe, zu dem Besserwissen und Medien laden, hat seinen Preis. Es macht ja nicht reifer, über die Unreife anderer zu triumphieren, es macht ängstlicher,  abhängiger. Mehr Regeln, mehr Kontrolle und strengere Gesetze sollen verhindern, dass sich eine Katastrophe wiederholt. Als ob es an einem Mangel an moralischer Rhetorik und Werte-Posaunen  liegen würde, wenn Staaten scheitern und Revolutionen vor die Hunde gehen.

Die Helikoptermoral verspricht, wir könnten uns gleichzeitig überlegen fühlen und in eine bessere Zukunft steuern. Doch die Wahrheit rudert in die Gegenrichtung. Je mehr moralischer Dünkel und plakative Überreaktion, desto mehr wird das Übel wachsen. Denn die proklamierten Gegenmaßnahmen beruhen nicht auf Einsicht in die eigenen Anteile an ihm oder die tragischen Qualitäten der Situation, sondern auf deren Leugnung.

[1] Aus so krummem Holze, als woraus der Mensch gemacht ist, kann nichts ganz Gerades gezimmert werden („Idee zu einer allgemeinen Geschichte in weltbürgerlicher Absicht“).


For an English translation of Wolfgang Schmidbauer’s lecture please click here.

PERSBERICHT: Herengracht 401 laat Castrum Peregrini achter zich

De nieuwe naam doet recht aan de huidige activiteiten en de nieuwe betekenis die het pand aan de Herengracht 401 inmiddels hebben gekregen: een plek waar kunst, onderzoek en dialoog samenkomen.

De laatste twee jaar werd de stichting geconfronteerd met misbruik uit het verleden van de kring rondom Wolfgang Frommel (1902-1986). Het bestuur heeft in die periode verschillende initiatieven genomen om het verleden te ontrafelen waaronder een opdracht aan een onafhankelijke commissie die op 6 mei jl. haar rapport en aanbevelingen publiceerde. Het maakte duidelijk dat er destijds seksueel- en machtsmisbruik is gemaakt door Frommel en de zijnen. Als bestuur hebben wij dit erkend en hebben voor de slachtoffers, mede op advies van de onderzoekscommissie, op 22 mei jl een hulptraject aangeboden in samenwerking met Slachtofferhulp Nederland en Schadefonds Geweldsmisdrijven.

Het bestuur heeft ook andere aanbevelingen van de commissie uitgevoerd. Zo vond de commissie dat de naam Castrum Peregrini te veel naar het verleden verwijst. De directie heeft daarom de statuten aangepast en een naamswijziging doorgevoerd:

  • De Erfgoedstichting heet vanaf juni 2019 het Huis van Gisèle, conform de aanbeveling van de commissie, die ook een eervol herstel van Gisèle d’Ailly op haar plaats vindt.
  • De Activiteitenstichting heet vanaf 1 september 2019 Stichting Herengracht 401, kortweg: H401.

De breuk met Frommel en zijn kring is en blijft definitief. Het bestuur van de stichting gaat erfgoed- en herinneringsdeskundigen betrekken bij het ontdoen van- en de omgang met de materiële- en immateriële sporen van Frommel in de Herengracht 401.  

Stichting H401
De stichting H401 zal haar in het oog springende methode voor cultuurprogrammering die ze in 2008 is begonnen verder ontwikkelen. In samenwerking met kunstenaars, wetenschappers en denkers wordt de menselijke natuur onderzocht: naast academisch en politiek ook artistiek, performatief en participatief onderzoek waarbij residenties, tentoonstellingen, evenementen, denktanks en publicaties hand in hand gaan. Het pand Herengracht 401 krijgt hiermee een nieuwe betekenis waarin het verleden, heden en toekomst op een kritische manier met elkaar in verbinding blijven. Het huis als plek voor vrije geesten en het concept van gastvrijheid blijven onze motivatie.

Tot voor kort werd de Herengracht 401 geassocieerd met een heroïsch verleden, waarbij het Kwade van buitenaf kwam. Gezien de recente opheldering over het misbruik dat in het verleden plaatsvond, blijkt het Goede en het Kwade de beide zijden van dezelfde medaille te zijn geweest. De stichting wil de weerslag dat dit universeel menselijke aspect heeft op huidige culturele,  politieke en maatschappelijke realiteiten verder onderzoeken. Dit nieuwe onderzoeksterrein is relevant voor het tijdsgewricht waarin we leven, waarin zwart/wit denken en polarisatie de boventoon voeren.

De nieuwe naam doet recht aan de huidige activiteiten en de nieuwe betekenis die de gebouwen aan de Herengracht inmiddels hebben gekregen: een plek waar kunst, onderzoek en dialoog samenkomen om de condition humaine te duiden. Daarbij staat de vraag centraal hoe we als maatschappij, organisaties en individuen met het heden en de toekomst willen omgaan.


Voor vragen:

Frans Damman
Stichting H401


Magazine: Perplex!







The magazine was launched on 1 September 2019
and is available at Herengracht 401 in print.

Get your free copy during office hours
from Monday to Friday 9.30-18 hrs.


Here are some pictures from the launch:


The conversations in this magazine were sparked by the dialogues held at Herengracht 401. The idea of the Herengracht Dialogues was conceived over dinner with Ram Manikkalingam and Avrum Burg. We thought about the need to bring together people that share the same belief in a society where no-one is excluded, but who have different opinions on what the exact root causes of fragmenting societies really are and how to address them. We wanted people with different experiences of the world and different fields of work: artists, activists, scholars, funders, policy makers.

During a period of 1 year a group of some 20 people met 3 times for 2,5 days to talk in a protected environment under Chatham House Rule. This meant that participants were able to speak freely, without any member of the group being recorded, identified, and quoted publicly. Themes like populism, globalisation, intersectionality were discussed, sometimes specifically presented by a participant, or developing organically in the course of the dialogues. Anonymised reports helped participants to link their evolving thoughts from one meeting to the next.  

This magazine is inspired by these sessions, but is neither a report, nor a replica, of the sessions. The conversations in the magazine all started around the table, but grew in different directions, as time passed and relationships formed between participants. The editors and the designers have brought them together in PERPLEX! As a guide to creating your own dialogue spaces, styles, dinners or ‘derives’ wherever you are.

Een nieuwe naam en een nieuw logo

– scroll down for English –

Een nieuwe naam en een nieuw logo

Na meer dan 75 jaren onder verschillende omstandigheden en verschillende betekenissen te hebben gefungeerd is het aan de orde om de oude naam Castrum Peregrini af te leggen. De nieuwe naam doet recht aan de huidige activiteiten en de nieuwe betekenis die de gebouwen aan de Herengracht inmiddels hebben gekregen: een plek waar onderzoek, kunst en dialoog samenkomen om het fenomeen ‘menszijn’ te duiden. Lees hier meer. De breuk met een problematisch verleden, die reeds in het vorige decennium plaatsvond, wordt nu ook in de communicatie duidelijk gemaakt.

De locatie van de gebouwen van de stichting zelf geeft de naam: Stichting Herengracht 401, of afgekort, H401.

Het logo en de nieuwe huisstijl zijn ontworpen door Herman van Bostelen.


A new name and a new logo

After being used for more than 75 years – under various circumstances and with divers meanings – it is time to discard the old name Castrum Peregrini. The new name does justice to its current activities and the new purpose which the buildings at Herengracht meanwhile have acquired: a place where research, art and dialogue come together to shed light on the phenomenon of ‘humanity’. Read more here. The break with a difficult past, which has already happened in the last decennium, will now also be made clear in the communication.

De location of the buildings itself gives the name: Stichting Herengracht 401, or in short: H401.

The logo and the new house style are designed by Herman van Bostelen.

Rapport onderzoekscommissie misbruik Castrum Peregrini 1942-1986

Het rapport van de ‘onderzoekscommissie misbruik Castrum Peregrini 1942-1986’ kunt u hier vinden.

Eine deutsche Zusammenfassung des Berichtes der Kommission, die sexuellen Missbrauch durch Wolfgang Frommel und seinen Kreis in den Jahren 1942-1986 festgestellt hat, finden Sie hier. 

Amsterdam, 6 mei 2019
Misbruik vastgesteld door dichter Wolfgang Frommel en zijn kring

De onderzoekscommissie misbruik Castrum Peregrini 1942-1986 onder leiding van oud-rechter Frans Bauduin heeft vastgesteld dat de dichter Wolfgang Frommel (1902-1986) en een aantal van zijn vrienden misbruik hebben gemaakt van jonge mannen en vrouwen. Een aantal van hen is nog in leven en heeft daar tot op de dag van vandaag last van concludeert de commissie. Het huidige bestuur van de Stichting Castrum Peregrini, de opdrachtgever van het onafhankelijke onderzoek, vindt het schokkend wat in het verleden is gebeurd.

Bestuurder Frans Damman van Castrum Peregrini: “Het is afschuwelijk dat Frommel en de zijnen zowel in Amsterdam als op andere plekken in Nederland en in het buitenland onder het mom van cultuurvorming jonge mannen en vrouwen betrokken bij hun activiteiten waarbij vervolgens sprake bleek van seksueel- en machtsmisbruik. Een aantal van hen was minderjarig”. De onderzoekscommissie spreekt van een tiental misbruikte jongeren. Damman: “Wij nemen scherp afstand van dit verleden. Wat Frommel en de zijnen hebben gedaan kan niet en mag niet. Het bestuur heeft, mede op advies van de onderzoekscommissie, contact met Slachtofferhulp Nederland en met het Schadefonds Geweldsmisdrijven om degenen die zich bij de commissie hebben gemeld daar verder te kunnen helpen”.

De onderzoekscommissie heeft voor haar onderzoek ook gebruik gemaakt van de biografie De eeuw van Gisèle van Annet Mooij, een initiatief van het huidige bestuur van Castrum Peregrini. De beeldend kunstenaar Gisèle van Waterschoot van der Gracht was eigenaar van het huis aan de Herengracht waar de Stichting Castrum Peregrini is gehuisvest. In 1983 schonk zij het huis en haar vermogen aan de stichting. Het was ook Gisèle die in 1942 Frommel en een aantal Joodse jongens onderduik bood tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog. De onderzoekscommissie komt tot het oordeel dat Gisèle in die periode weet moet hebben gehad van de gedragingen van Frommel, maar dat zij hier niet tegen kon optreden omdat zij dan anderen en zichzelf in levensgevaar bracht. De onderzoekscommissie stelt dat Gisèle een zekere morele verantwoordelijkheid niet kan worden ontzegd. Volgens de onderzoekscommissie is Gisèle echter niet de mecenas geweest die het misbruik binnen de kring van Frommel heeft gefinancierd. Zij verbleef, meldt de commissie, in de jaren ’50 ‘60 en ‘70 vaak in het buitenland en werd door de overwegend mannengemeenschap rondom Frommel letterlijk geweerd. Uit het rapport: “De commissie komt dan ook tot de conclusie dat veel van wat nu bekend is over seksueel misbruik destijds voor haar en anderen verborgen werd gehouden”.  Gisèle “verdient een eervol herstel”, aldus de commissie in haar aanbevelingen.

In 2007 zette de Stichting Castrum Peregrini de uitgeverij van Wolfgang Frommel, die in 1986 was overleden, stop en in maart 2017 veranderde de doelstelling van de Stichting door het erfgoed van Gisèle als uitgangspunt te nemen. “Als we toen hadden geweten wat we nu weten was per omgaande ook de naam van de stichting veranderd”, aldus Damman. “We gaan voor Het Huis van Gisèle kiezen, een naam die we nu al dikwijls gebruiken en de onderzoekscommissie ons ook aanbeveelt. De breuk met Frommel is de afgelopen jaren natuurlijk al gemaakt, maar is met deze onderzoeksresultaten definitief.”

Het bestuur van Castrum Peregrini heeft waardering voor het werk van de commissie. Naast het erkennen van het misbruik van Frommel en de zijnen, en het aanbod van hulpverlening voor de misbruikten neemt het bestuur ook de andere aanbevelingen van de onderzoekscommissie over. Zoals het afstoten van de Frommel bibliotheek.

Woordvoering Castrum Peregrini namens het bestuur Frans Damman, +31 623367491,  +31 (0)20 6235287 of via

Het persbericht van Castrum Peregrini als PDF kunt u hier downloaden.

Het persbericht van de onderzoekscomissie kunt u hier vinden. 
Als woordvoerder van de onderzoekscommissie treedt de secretaris van de onderzoekscommissie op. Bert Kreemers is te bereiken op mobiel 06 51870690.

Dealing with a complex past

After the publication of the biography of the life of Gisèle (1912-2013), the mental and sexual abuse in the circle around Castrum Peregrini’s co-founder Wolfgang Frommel (1902-1986) and Gisèle’s apparent looking away has been broadly covered in the press. It is shocking for us and the people whom we worked with in the last ten years to be confronted with this painful part of the history of Herengracht 401. Nevertheless, we believe that it is good that these stories are now in the open, and hope it helps victims to come to terms with their painful memories.

For us it means a new starting point in dealing with a complex past that is made up of both lives that were saved and lives that were damaged. As so often, history is neither white nor black. Good and bad coexist and form part of the human condition. The historic persons of Castrum Peregrini need to be seen in that light as well. Seven years ago, we asked Annet Mooij to write a biography about the life of Gisèle, because we were – and we still are – convinced that she deserves it. This superbly written book shows the fascinating context of her life, the many layers of her personality that she could maintain and the countless fascinating episodes of a life full of love and struggle. Sadly the focus on Wolfgang Frommel and his disciples – who have abused Gisèle’s care shamelessly – overshadows the richness of her personality, which Mooij describes. We recommend reading the book to comprehend the complexity of a fascinating life that was both a fairy-tale and a harsh reality.

The biography is now a major reference for us to tell the story of Herengracht 401. Both aspects of that past, the good ones next to the awful ones need to be remembered. Raising awareness about the human condition in all its complexity will stay the motivation for all our activities. We will dedicate the near future to find the right and suitable way to commemorate abuse alongside saving lives. We will do this together with individuals and institutions. Victims were and are invited to speak with us.  

Please also see:

Biografie: De eeuw van Gisèle

Sinds het verschijnen van Annet Mooij’s biografie van Gisèle ‘De eeuw van Gisèle. Mythe en werkelijkheid van een kunstenares’ (Bezige Bij 2018) werd deze breed en lovend besproken in de Nederlandse pers.

Zie hier Annet zelf over haar werk:

The Warp and Weft of Memory



An exhibition and online presentation by Renée Turner

“There are stains. What are we to do with them? Her sweat has turned brown with time and its acid has etched itself into her white cotton shirts and the lining of dresses. Skin oil has darkened the fingers of leather gloves, and her idiosyncratic walk has shaped the heels of her shoes. Her clothes have been recording devices.” – excerpt from The Warp and Weft of Memory, 2018.

In her latest multi-faceted work, Renée Turner explores the contents of Gisèle d’Ailly van Waterschoot van der Gracht’s closet. Although Gisèle passed away in 2013 at the age of one hundred, the traces of her figure can still be sensed through the shape and wear of her clothes. Spanning decades, the range of garments illustrates her fascination with travel, textiles, and design. There are Greek woollen vests, a Chinese silk jacket and several dresses fashioned by the renowned Dutch designer Dick Holthaus. All were meticulously itemized in Gisèle’s own wardrobe inventories. As Turner notes, “Gisèle was a taxonomist of her own life.”

[Read more…]

European Academy of Participation

Roadmap towards future impact

By Lars Ebert
on behalf of the European Academy of Participation consortium.

This article reflects on 3 years of an Erasmus+ funded Strategic Partnership project on participation in and through the arts, its network dynamics, key outcomes and its embeddedness in a European policy context. It concludes with a brief outline of future activities.

Open here an illustrated PDF version of the EAP-Roadmap

The project

The European Academy of Participation is a community of educational and cultural institutions across Europe and Turkey and a network of practitioners and academics in the area of participatory art practice that have collaborated for many years. Some partners developed joint projects and exchanges under the umbrella of ELIA – The European League of Institutes of the Arts, others were engaged in the EU financed Multilateral project TimeCase – Culture is Memory in Action (2011-2014), and some partners collaborated informally. A core of 10 partners[1] formed the consortium by the name of European Academy of Participation led by Goethe Institute Lyon and Castrum Peregrini Amsterdam, funded by the Erasmus+ programme as a Strategic Partnership from 2015- 2018.

This Roadmap aims to summarise the main findings of the project, contextualizing them in the broader social-, political-, cultural- and educational policy framework of the European Union and creating an overview of the broader EAP network that will exist beyond the EU funded consortium as a co-created self-organising rhizome. All institutions and individuals engaged in this extra-institutional structure exemplify one of the main insights of the past years of collaboration: whilst participation may be the focus of everyone engaged in EAP, participation cannot gain one shape, size, content or rules. Participation does though always require to ask a similar set of questions to scrutinize each unique social setting and the role of the artist that engages in it. The exchange on the challenge of asking these questions and realising projects, learning from each other, empowering institutions and individuals proved to best function in a participatory way. Even if participation may not be easily taught in a traditional way, participatory learning, and creating alternative spaces of learning and critical pedagogies keep the focus of interest and the motivation to engage for everyone involved in EAP.

Participation is a spectrum
The point of departure of our project was formed by a Spectrum of Participation developed by Chrissie Tiller in the previous project TimeCase, see p.22/23. It shows that there is not one single mode of participation but rather a grid that ranges from more audience development work to real participatory practice, where the former often uses the term participation whilst most of the activities remain what is often referred to as spectating or enhanced engagement.  Tiller has marked this difference by starting with active engagement and moving through collaborative making to co-creation; to work that is completely initiated and led by participants: encompassing some of the important questions of why, where and how. There is sometimes an assumption that participatory arts projects inevitably lead to positive social outcomes.  But if traditional hierarchies have largely been maintained throughout the process there is little reason why this should happen. This analytical work is a very valuable reflective tool for cultural analysts, curators and funders but it is also of great practical benefit for practitioners. Through the spectrum they can question their own motivations and address the level of engagement they plan to work with.

Spectrum of Participation
By Chrissie Tiller
Active Engagement Collaborative Making Co-Creation Participants’ initiative
Participants are involved with or contribute to the making of the work through stories, ideas or performances. Artist/s remain in the leading creative role but participants have a direct involvement in the creation of the final piece, working together with artist/s. Power is delegated to the participants as they take growing control of the artistic creation through the creative process. Participants instigate and realise their own creative idea. They are the directors/curators of the piece.  Where professional artist/s involved is their decision.
WHO is involved? Professional artists and non-professional participants. Other partners from social contexts. Professional artists and non-professional participants. Other partners from social contexts. Professional artists and non-professional participants. Other partners from social contexts. Participants.  Other partners from social contexts.
HOW does the work take place? ‘Inventive’ (or devised) ‘interpretive’ (or already existing) – i.e. working on participants’ stories and concerns or on an existing piece.

May be single-authored/ signature piece with participants helping realise artists’ ideas.

‘Inventive’ (or devised) ‘interpretive’ (or already existing) – i.e. working on participants’ stories and concerns or on an existing piece.

Shared authorship. With artist/s still taking final directive/artistic decisions.

More likely to be ‘inventive’ (or devised) piece of work.

Shared authorship – with equal value being given to participants’ input. Shared decision-making.

Most likely to be ‘inventive’ (or devised) piece of work created by the group. Often process driven.  Authorship lies totally with participants.
WHAT happens? Workshops that may focus on collecting material. Performance. Artist/s share skills dependent often on whether participants are engaged in the final performance. Skills workshops. Performance.

Artist/s share skills towards participants making the performance.

Skills workshops. Performance.

Artist’s share skills. Participants share skills.

Skills sharing. Performance.
WHY? Social. Celebration/Fun

Skills Development

Own or others attitudinal or behavioural change

Improved Health and Well-being

Community Development

Economic Impact

Political Activism


Skills Development

Own or others attitudinal or behavioural change

Improved Health and Well-being

Community Development

Economic Impact

Political Activism


Skills Development and exchange

Own or others attitudinal or behavioural change

Improved Health and Well-being

Community Development

Economic Impact

Political Activism


Skills Development and exchange

Own or others attitudinal or behavioural change

Improved Health and Well-being

Community Development

Economic Impact

Political Activism

WHY? Artistic. Participants assist artist/s’ in realising their vision.  Honours participants’ input.  Often a greater focus on professional artist/s intended outcomes. More inclusive artistic practice driven by artist/s. Participants input is central. Strong focus on professional artist/s’ input into creative outcomes. More inclusive artistic practice driven by participants. Equal focus on shared artistic development.  Shared artistic vision. Participants as artists engaged in creative process. Participation is both the process and the product. Shared artistic vision. May employ professional artist/s to help them realise final product
WHERE? Traditional/less traditional spaces Traditional/less traditional spaces Less traditional spaces Less traditional spaces
EXAMPLES Theatre /dance/drawing on stories /lives of a particular group but performed by professionals. Opera where participants are trained supernumeraries. Community choirs mainly performing music selected for them. Choirs drawing on participants’ own musical cultures. Theatre /opera/dance working with themes identified by participants who may also perform. Professionals and non-professionals working together. Theatre /opera/dance in which the issues/concerns of participants are what drives the work.  Professionals and non-professionals working together but non-professionals may have increasing input as skills developed over time. Dance, bands, orchestras, choirs, theatre -performances led by the needs of a particular community to express themselves creatively.

Framework of reference
In the period between October 2015 – February 2016 all partners of the EAP project have collaboratively developed a benchmark statement about Participatory Art Practice following the Tuning Educational Structures in Europe methodology. The document is intended as a reference document that reflects the diversity of the field in Europe, as well as serving as a benchmark for curriculum developers, teachers, employers and academics and practitioners that work towards enhancing educational and practical advancements. It sets an MA (EQF level 7) standard and is published at

The document offers a broadly shared benchmark in the European Higher Education Area for educational providers who wish to extend their existing curricula with a specialisation or additional provision in the area of participatory art. EAP represented both, academic and cultural institutions, as well as cultural practitioners. Creative partnerships between Higher Education and cultural organisations offer significant potential for the students learning experience and the development of professional skills, capabilities and scholarship in the subject area.

To develop the document the partners adopted the Tuning Methodology under the guidance of the Tuning Academy at the University of Deusto in Bilbao, Spain, one of the project partners. The TUNING Educational Structures in Europe started in 2000 as a project to link the political objectives of the Bologna Process, and at a later stage the Lisbon Strategy to the higher educational sector. Over time Tuning has developed into a process, an approach to (re-) design, develop, implement, evaluate and enhance quality (first, second and third cycle) degree programmes. The Tuning outcomes, as well as its tools are presented in a range of Tuning publications, which academic institutions are invited to test and use in their own setting. The Tuning approach has been developed by, and is meant for higher education institutions.

The name chosen for the process ‘Tuning’ aims to reflect the idea that universities who want to create a common higher education space should not look for uniformity in their degree programmes or any kind of unified, prescriptive or definitive curricula, but simply for points of reference, convergence and common understanding.

At present the Higher Education sector is working with two existing European Qualifications Frameworks. A Qualifications Framework is a common reference framework which links countries’ qualifications systems, acting as a translation device to make qualifications more readable and understandable across different countries and systems in Europe. This document has consulted the Sectoral Qualifications Frameworks for the Creative and Performing Disciplines and for the Humanities that bridges the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) for Life Long Learning (LLL) and the Qualifications Framework (QF) for the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) at the level of academic sectors/domains. See (and/or

Based on this background, EAP partners have drafted a Tuning Document compatible or aligned with the existing Frameworks, – as an add on. The document describes existing study offers across Europe, the work field, as well as competencies on MA level structured in knowledge, skills and attitudes.  At its core, it defined the following proposition of the subject matter:

Four intensive short courses
The Tuning document formed the main reference for the intensive, low-residency course modules that EAP piloted in London (July 2017), Bucharest (May 2018), Amsterdam (June 2018) and Marseille (July 2018) with 200 international students (art graduates and mid-career artists) and 30 international teachers.
From the outset of the project the partners discussed the possibility of teaching participation. Some colleagues suggested that a certain maturity is needed for each artist to work in a social contexts, others were convinced that participatory art practice needs to be underpinned by theoretical knowledge, or that ethical questions are at the core of all practices. The experience of the London Pilot course was a tipping point in the perception of all partners: it became clear that participation can maybe not be taught, but that teaching about social engagement in the arts may be best taught in a participatory way. EAP hence planned to realise three additional pilots in 2018 to test a more case study bound model (Bucharest), a co-creation model (Amsterdam) and a more urban experiential model (Marseille). All three of these provided positive experiences for the participants and will be further developed by the partners beyond the life-cycle of the project.

Claire Binyon, Porto reflected in hindsight:

‘I want to highlight the quality of the encounters, the physical act of being there, and the value of the moment of contact, exchange and what this generates for the young artists that we had involved. The relationships forged was one great outcome of the project –  and the value of the residency for expanding the participants vision as to what is possible and happening in the world of social intervention leads to an expansion of their “employability” in their specific fields . This is what actually stays with me and what we didn’t have so much awareness of until after the event. It is also the major factor in an increasingly digital world and could be for me why participatory arts and residencies of this kind are essential in the current climate.’

And the group of the University of the Arts London participating in the Amsterdam course wrote this learning diary[2]:

‘Participants had the opportunity to address ethical and practical issues relating to participation, work with other dedicated artists and cultural practitioners from different European perspectives, and be able share their own knowledge and skills to their peers. The course took place in Castrum Perigrini , ‘the fortress of the pilgrim’, a WWII safe house in the city centre of Amsterdam which is a place of (artistic) research and encounter. It offers a protected environment for artists, thinkers, opinion leader and activists, to work in the context of the organisation and in exchange with its network and audience.

What is ethics of hosting? The parameters of housing, the demands of exchange, problematisation of the role of the host and the guest, in the current socio-political context?

Prior to meeting face-to-face, participants had access to a Moodle site on which they discussed the theme of ‘paradoxal hospitality’ and shared their lectures on ethics, art & politics, relational aesthetics and… international food recipes! Castrum Peregrini was our residency and ‘host’ for the week.

Day one was all about horizontal learning, starting with ice-breaker activities and lectures, in preparation for Open Space Technology for which some participants submitted work ideas which aided the formation of some new dynamic working groups. Throughout the week, participants also had the chance to contribute to different lectures ranging from Arts, Psychology, Sociology and Social Activism in-between reflective sessions. Ideas, motivation and deeper questions about meaning of our work sparked throughout the week, not forgetting that cooking and sitting down for dinner were key moments in the day for reflection, thus becoming a dedication of ours. These shared moments sprouted from everywhere: From techno vjing to Sinop Biennale in Turkey!

The film group worked around participative making based on collaboration and peer-learning.  Participant Caglar recalls: “The group was inspired by artist Gisèle van Waterschoot van der Gracht’s (historical house owner) on her life and own hospitality. The strong presence of history is felt in Castrum Peregrini. We were particularly interested in Gisele’s collection of objects and hiding place during WW2. With Lars’s generous permission, we have taken residency in Gisele’s art studio where we worked for one week to produce participatory film. We have learned to understand each other through creativity and making. As a multicultural group it was interesting to see how each of us interpreted the tragic events of WW2 in the form of art practice, and how each transformed their feelings to film. We also debated on ethical questions surrounding art-making about sensitive historical & current events.

It was a pleasure to organise a screening for everyone at the end. Overall, this alternative space of learning, with no defined hierarchies raised questions about the existing power structures and functions of art practice in the community.”

Pandora participated in the Lecture & Sourdough Group: “I’ve had a fantastic experience in EAP, ever since EAP provided me with an open space allowing me to develop my ideas with professional participants.

Through seeing other group’s presentations, I began to visualise the different working models between Artist’s and Curator’s. I found that some curators consider the audiences opinions far greater than that of the artist, and focus on the art market. This made me wonder who has the discourse to interpret artworks? These workshops encouraged me to recognise how important communication is for collaboration.”

Tongyao’s group explored different curational and educational models: “The openness and flexibility of this peer learning structure asked us, the participants, to throw out our own interests and formulate groups based on that, which is very different from the brief-orientated learning structure I am used to on my course.

This structure very much challenged individual proactivity throughout the whole process. By meeting community artists, curators and people from a wide variety of backgrounds inspired the vibrant conversation and discussion within the groups, sharing a similar interest of participatory art practice. This experience has helped to develop my understanding of participation, understanding the structure, innovation and relationship between the artist/host and its participants.”

As seen in these different participatory experiences, each group participated and took residency in a unique way, showing the variety of ways to produce and learn through the logic of hospitality and collaboration. Some explored the field research, some shared the importance of theory through lectures and some collaborated through art making or engaging in critical and reflective sessions. The last day was dedicated to presenting our final pieces followed by a celebration of this educational experience. The participants felt very much at home under the hospitality of Castrum Peregrini, and we truly hope these collaborations will continue in the future.’

International Conferences
During three international conferences (Dublin October, 2016; Amsterdam, October 2017; Marseille, July 2018) the project engaged with an expert audience of 300 delegates from participatory art practice, education and art theory to discuss the project’s ambition, progress and embeddedness in the international discourse.

For one of the conferences we took the title from Nato Thompson’s book Living As Form (2012). He asks whether it is time at the beginning of the 21st century to return Duchamps urinal from the museum to the real world. But the question arises whether it would be accepted by the ‘real world’ today, where one is suspicious towards arts and the artists in their supposed elite bubble. Art keeps engaging with life, trying to find new forms of expression and impact. What is the artistic form of live today, or should we rather talk about art as resistance? And how does education prepare the artists of the future for their role in these new realities?

European Academy of Participation has critically discussed the embeddedness of participatory practice in an international framework that has rapidly changed in the past few years. Before, participatory art was largely perceived through the historical lens of what happened since the fall of the Berlin wall. The ‘end of history’-feeling led to the long prevailing paradigm of neoliberalism, our current political order of free trade and open markets. In this paradigm the private sector takes the lead and the role of the public and that of the state supporting the public is pushed to the side. Simultaneously, alongside the positive effects of participation in and through art and culture, the term participation has been appropriated by the neoliberal policies to stress the fact that individuals need to take their own responsibility versus a withdrawing welfare state. Political support focused on the economy and the financial market, not the citizen. In turn, and quite ironically, citizens and artists were expected to compensate for austerity politics, being maneuvered into roles that would ‘art wash’ a misery that should have actually been solved by other professionals: care takers, city planners, social workers etc.

Meanwhile the world has changed. One could believe that in countries like the USA, Britain, Poland, Turkey, the Netherlands and Hungary, the revolutionary potential of people and their representatives, long considered to be the domain of the left, is now with populist and nationalist movements that battle principles of enlightenment such as human rights, equality and solidarity. In the fake and fact less news their representatives produce, expertise, high end culture and, consequently, artists are framed as the enemies of the ‘people’. Nevertheless, the basic question stays the same: how can artists engage with communities in a mutual beneficial way, towards progress and more culturally and economically inclusive societies?

EAP in a changing EU policy landscape
Throughout the project EAP has observed European-wide developments with genuine interest. It was obvious, that the learning process of project partners and the outcomes they produced will only create impact on transnational level if genuinely embedded in the broader context of European policy. In this effort the consortium has benefitted from the invaluable work of Culture Action Europe, to which its partners maintain close ties.

EAP was conceived in a pre-Brexit world. Since the referendum much has changed, – the feeling of European fragmentation has prevailed and in the midst of tumultuous negotiations it becomes evident that the EU will not be the same in the future. On a financial level the EU faces a tough challenge to draw up a budget with less contributions and equal, if not more spending. Without the UK the EU will face an approximate €12 billion annual budget gap with new priorities in the areas of defense, migration and border control requiring more funding​. Cuts across all EU programmes Erasmus+ and Horizon 2020. But culture brings added value to the EU and may be – with education and research – a crucial instrument against fragmentation and therefore urgently needs additional European funding. ​

Culture and the arts permeate all fields of our society and therefore affect a broad policy spectrum. Many studies published in the past few years show the positive impact of culture on health and well-being, social cohesion and equality, education, promotion of democratic principles, external relations, alongside with growth and jobs, research and innovation.

They all point out that culture must be at the heart of policy. Culture Action Europe’s publication “The Value and Values of Culture” summarises measurements of how culture contributes to different policy fields. Spending 1% on culture in every budget line will provide a sustainable quality of life both, in our cities and in our countryside and will serve to creating a more integrated society.

Creative Europe, the EU funding programme dedicated to culture, represents 0.14% of the EU total budget (2014-2020), out of which only one third (31%) goes to culture. The programme has a high threshold that is proven by low and decreasing application success rates, due to its significant popularity and insufficient finances. A great number of high quality projects are without the urgently needed support. Above all, limited resources are re-allocated towards a new and ever wider range of initiatives. The relevance and efficacy of the programme suggests the need for increasing its budget.

On 30 May 2018, the European Commission presented their proposal for the Creative Europe programme 2021-2027. It offers a more balanced approach across social, economic, artistic and cultural priorities. The new programme suggests increased opportunities for cross-border cooperation and cross-border projects. Simplification and greater flexibility will hopefully ensure easier access to the programme for small organisations amongst which many that focus on participatory, socially engaged art. New features are, amongst others, a focus on mobility for artists and cultural and creative operators, and a broader approach to the digital shift in the cultural and creative sectors.

The future Creative Europe programme also focusses on specific sectors, notably heritage, architecture, music, literature, design fashion and cultural tourism and recognises the importance of safeguarding artistic freedom in the current EU political context. Hybridisation of practices, convergence and increasing cross-sectoral cooperation, demand sufficient financial resources to ensure equal support across all sectors.

Regretfully, no tangible steps have been taken towards a focus on participatory art practice, socially engaged art, community art and the support of artists in all stages of their education and career to be impactful agents of change, empowered to face the ethical dilemmas that come with this work and sufficient funding to engage in long-term projects.

EAP partners also feel a strong need for the development of new indicators of successful project implementation that are less based on quantitative measurements but rather on qualitative, long term impact and social change.

Furthermore EAP partners would like to encourage ERASMUS+ to include better guidance on how to bridge the gap between non-formal and informal learning in the cultural sector and education (lifelong learning). Only if we manage to break through the existing silos we will be able to live up to the challenges of a society in which borders between sectors and disciplines are vanishing.

EAP contributes to building synergies between sectors
Culture must be intrinsically linked to learning, teaching, research, critical thinking, creativity and problem solving. Hence it is of utmost importance that the various EU programmes Horizon2020/FP9 (research), Erasmus+ (education), Creative Europe (culture) and Citizens for Europe (civil society) combine their forces and recognize that the silos they represent will soon no longer be representative of the work realities of the sectors for which they were originally designed. Culture and education are the responsibility of the same directorate-general of the European Commission and on a national level sometimes of the same ministry. Unfortunately, this often remains of symbolic nature and the potential to develop synergies between education and culture are not used due to internal divides. Creative skills and industries make a huge contribution to the economy and – more related to the EAP endeavors – from a social perspective learning about and through participation in culture represents tangible benefits for more inclusive societies. Vice versa education plays an important role for cultural literacy, enabling humans to participate in culture from an early age. ‘From cradle to grave’ is a slogan often cited when talking about Lifelong Learning. Contemplating about the mutual contributions of education and culture to each other’s domains the image of ‘life wide’ learning comes to mind: learning takes place in all domains of life, be it in formal educational settings, in informal or non-formal settings, in your family life, in cultural organisations, social organisations etc. The role that artists can play as catalysts for learning and change, is at the heart of EAP and should be at the centre of reflections on the intrinsic link between education and culture.

Civil society already recognises the need for a deeper, more wide-reaching integration of education and culture from a policy perspective. In 2013 the Lifelong Learning Platform, Culture Action Europe and Access to Culture released joint recommendations in their paper “Building synergies between education and culture”. Those remain valid today and EAP partners urge for their implementation. Nevertheless, in light of the 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage and recent policy developments, including the European Commission’s 2017 Communication “Strengthening European Identity through Education and Culture”, EAP partners feel that some key findings of the project can contribute to the further development of an integral approach to culture and education. Also the new dynamics as set out by Councils communication ‘Towards a European Education Area by 2025’ from November 2017 and the revision of the core competences of lifelong learning that were revised in 2018 are important cornerstones for the sectors to act together in the next years.

The negative developments of a fragmenting Europe with Brexit as a symbol, but also strong anti-democratic and fascist elements gaining democratic support in many EU countries, form the fundaments of the idea that identification with a supra-national, cultural inclusive approach may not be achieved by a monetary and economic union only but mainly also by a cultural policy that is trans-national, inclusive and accessible for all. The strong political support shown by all European institutions in recognizing this new reality is acknowledged by EAP partners and connected to the hope that it will enable courageous change as outlined above.

Anticipating new developments
EAP partners and the wider network of EAP, including their alumni initiative and a group of associated partners maintain the experiences and exchange established during the project. The EAP network is keen to further develop, integrate and formalize the educational modules, across national borders (north-south, east-west Europe), discipline borders (visual, performing, urban) and across sectors. It therefore follows with great interest the discussion around ‘European Universities’ initiated by EU leaders at their 2017 Gothenburg Summit, where they outlined a vision for increasing policy attention in Europe to education and culture. The Member States, the Council and the Commission agreed a.o. on the aim of  ‘…strengthening strategic partnerships across the EU between higher education institutions and encouraging the emergence by 2024 of some twenty ‘European Universities’, consisting in bottom-up networks of universities across the EU which will enable students to obtain a degree by combining studies in several EU countries and contribute to the international competitiveness of European universities’. EAP shares the aim behind this initiative, to bring together a new generation of creative Europeans, who are able to cooperate in different languages, across borders and disciplines, to address the big societal challenges and skills shortages Europe faces. EAP partners await with great eagerness further clarification of the possibilities that this new initiative will offer and are ready to bring in their expertise in this process or similar forwardlooking new programmes and funding calls.

The EAP network
A network of artists, academics and mediators
More than 400 individuals have participated in the various activities of EAP. Many of them have stayed in touch, have realised joint artistic projects, or have followed invitations for guest lectures and academic exchanges. On the initiative of a participant from the early stages of the project a closed Facebook group organises the alumni of EAP and now plans for yearly life-gatherings, supported by partner University of the Arts London.

A network of committed institutions
Partners have invited local and international organisations to contribute their projects, experiences and network to the Multiplier events and the Courses. Many of these have stayed engaged in the project as associated partners and expressed interest to be involved in follow-up activities, notably School of Music and Performing Arts Porto (ESMAE), PELE Porto, Burg Giebichenstein Halle, Friche La Belle de Mai Marseille, DAS Amsterdam, Mimar Sinan Istanbul and University of Utrecht.


Follow-up timeline

After the EU funding has ended the lead partners GI and CP together with the University Aix-Marseille will bundle main findings and boarder reflections on participation in a print publication at Synchron Publishers for which we encourage paper contributions to be sent to the editors Joachim Umlauf and Lars Ebert by the 1 December 2018 at the latest. The proposals should summarize the envisaged contribution in one A4 page max and be accompanied with a letter of motivation.

Sustaining the network
A core group of partner envisages a yearly meeting of EAP alumni. Alumni are brought together in a database that comprises all participants of multiplier events and intensive courses, approx. 400 individuals. It is open for newcomers proposed by existing network members. The first meeting is planned in October 2019 in London at partner University of the Arts London.

A core group of partners and facilitators will meet during a workshop as part of the 2019 Sinopale to discuss possibilities for further implementation of intensive low-residency courses provided by academia and the field. Approximately 15 participants. Open for representatives of interested organisations.

Academic implementation of low-residencies: ESMAE, UAL and UNARTE Bucharest are currently investigating possibilities of integrating the low-residency courses in their curricula of offer for short courses. Please follow the EAP website for further updates.

Participatory heritage making: Goethe Institut and Castrum Peregrini have secured a Creative Europe grant to implement the project Heritage Contact Zones in the framework of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 in which methods to access and co-create future European Heritage in a participatory way is developed and implemented.

Are you a practitioner in participatory or socially engaged art? Do you represent an art organisation or an art school that wants to engage in future EAP activities? Join the EAP network and meet peers across borders. Visit and get in touch!

[1] Goethe-Institut, Munich, Germany; Castrum Peregrini, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; ACERT, Tondela, Portugal; Avrupa Kultur Dernegi, Istanbul, Turkey; National University of the Arts Bucharest, Romania; Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts, London, UK; University of Marseille, France; Universidad de la Iglesia de Deusto, Bilbao, Spain; ELIA The European League of Institutes of the Arts, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Create, Dublin, Ireland.


Questioning Traumatic Heritage: Spaces of Memory in Europe, Argentina, Colombia (SPEME)

click here to check out our May 2023 SPEME Programme

Please also see the SPEME project website

SPEME realises activities and publications that are built on exchanges between academic researchers – working on memory, trauma and heritage – and non-academic professionals – working in the fields of memory museums and sites of memory – between Italy, The Netherlands, Argentina and Colombia.

The fundamental aim of the project is to devise new forms of transmission of traumatic memories linking them to the present, on the assumption that memory, to be effective, has to invent creative ways of becoming relevant to the present. In order to do so, the project takes as its specific object of investigation a various array of spaces of memory, such as museums, former detention camps and sites of commemoration, to investigate how various traumatic pasts can be preserved and transmitted through space, and which kind of innovative actions might both improve knowledge of the past and serve as an opening to actual issues and new social subjects.

The international and intersectoral network developed by the project will make possible transfers of knowledge, both between difficult past heritages in different historical and geographical contexts (Europe and Latin America) and between academic researchers and museum curators. The different and complementary competences of these institutions will promote something more than a simple knowledge transfer but will fuel powerful knowledge exchanges at the theoretical, methodological and practical levels, which has few or no precedents in the field of memory and museum studies.

Through a rich combination of staff meetings, theoretical seminars, training workshops, fieldworks and conferences, this project will increase competences and skills of both academic and non academic partners, as well as facilitate the development of innovative and creative actions involving new social actors (civil society, new generations, minority groups, refugees, and others) and addressing actual questions, from Human Rights to post-conflict reconciliation.

Project Partners

  • MUSEO DE SITIO ESMA – Ex Centro Clandestino de Detención, Tortura y Exterminio Argentina
  • STICHTING HERENGRACHT 401 (H401) The Netherlands

Join us on TEAMS on April 11th and 12th 2024 for the final conference hosted by our partner Università di Bologna and its Centro Internazionale di Studi Umanistici Umberto Eco.

The various contributions will be provided both from our SPEME colleagues as well as experts in the field of memory, heritage and trauma studies signing off this way our rich and fruitful four-year project.

To follow the discussions held at the Centro Eco, click on the TEAMS link available in the programme.

Further readings

The 2022 issue of the HCM – Heritage, Memory and Conflict Journal (Amsterdam University Press) containing several articles written by the SPEME partners is now available.

Click here to read the complete issue: Spaces of Memory: Heritage, Trauma, and Art.

Additionally, in July 2023 our partner ESMA reflect with Libera and Gruppo Abele on the history of the ESMA and its meaning for today’s Argentinian society. You can read the article here.

We also warmly recommend reading J.J.Cahen’s Holocaust Memory – Memorials and the Visual Arts in the Netherlands to have a better grasp of the evolution of the Dutch public memory through the lenses of an artist.

You can find this article on European Judaism • Volume 56, No. 1, Spring 2023: 102–118.


Heritage Contact Zone

Heritage Contact Zone (HCZ) works with contested heritage. The consortium of organizations from Germany, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, The Netherlands, Belgium and Romania  present a sample of the neglected or contested heritages that the project focuses on.

Point of departure is the notion that European history is as much a history of shared cultural accomplishment as it is a history of violence, – violence of wars, colonisation, totalitarian and imperial regimes, religious violence, economic violence leading to social injustice, racial violence and generally the suppression of ‘others’. Only by recognition of all aspects of history also that of conflict and dissent, and by actively engaging with those citizens that still suffer exclusion because of this history being marginalised in mainstream heritage representation, Europe will be able to transgress its impasse and move forward towards more unity. Cultural mediators and artists play a key role in this project to open up current heritage structures as ‚contact zones‘ towards more inclusive narratives.

In the two years of the project (September 2018 – August 2020) HCZ has realised 5 local exhibitions, co-curated with citizens, building bottom-up heritage representation and ‘new’ approaches and narratives for the organisations involved. It then looked at other examples of innovative and inclusive heritage representation, using heritage as a space for dialogue and constructive conflict and publish them in a comparative overview. In a series of workshops across Europe divers methodologies have been tested. Outcomes are bundled in the Heritage Contact Zone Toolkit.

Please visit the project website for more information about the project, the toolkit and events:


EuropeS. The Green Guide to the Perplexed

As an outcome of the first edition of the Castrum Peregrini Dialogue, a joint initiative of the European Cultural Foundation (ECF) and Castrum Peregrini, we are working on a publication that will take the form of a travel magazine. During the European Cultural Challenge – a two-day advocacy retreat to work on positive change through culture, organised by ECF, taking place in Amsterdam on 15 and 16 May – key contributors of the magazine, 2018 ECF Princess Margriet Award for Culture laureate Krzysztof Czyzewski and guest experts, critically discussed contributions for the Green Guide to the Perplexed, and literally – though in its widest sense – map “Europes” (mental) territories – with its borders, fault lines and promising lands.

Here are some impressions of our meetings:

Adeola Enigbokan, editor of the Green Guide, summarizing a days discussions.

Charl Landvreugd and Wendelien van Oldenborgh in conversation about their contribution to the Green Guide

Quinsy Gario working on a ballad of the perplexed.

Gloria Wekker and Diana Pinto in conversation about a life journey in style.

This work also has a second object in view: It seeks to explain certain obscure figures which occur in the Prophets, and are not distinctly characterized as being figures. Ignorant and superficial readers take them in a literal, not in a figurative sense. Even well informed persons are bewildered if they understand these passages in their literal signification, but they are entirely relieved of their perplexity when we explain the figure, or merely suggest that the terms are figurative. For this reason I have called this book Guide for the Perplexed 

Maimonides, ‘The Guide for the Perplexed’ circa 1190

‘The Negro Motorist Green Book’ was published between 1936 and 1966 to guide African-American car owner who, despite the harsh realities of segregation and racism, decided to travel in the United States of America during the era of Jim Crow laws. The Green Book pointed them to safe places to eat, sleep and refuel, an information that could save them endless trouble and, perhaps, their lives.

Taking inspiration in those 12th and 20th Century references, ‘Europes. The Green Guide to the Perplexed’ will be a one-off magazine, published by Castrum Peregrini and the European Cultural Foundation, designed to share with a broader audience the stimulating intellectual journey that we experienced together in our meetings in 2017.

Perplexity about the state of Europe is what brought us together last year, and we did not get rid of it; rather, we embraced it in our journey together, and we want it to be central to our Magazine. We are imagining this coming publication as a travel magazine which, as this kind of publications does, fulfills the double role of a guidebook –with tips pointing the readers towards interesting features of the shifting European mindscapes, highlights, safe roads, shelters and more – and of an appealing teaser that entices the reader to actually set off on a journey of discovery. The result is meant to be aesthetically appealing and intellectually stimulating in equal measure.

Critical Pedagogies at Castrum Peregrini

By Jemima Wilson

On Friday 9th March, our Artist in Residence and senior research lecturer, Renée Turner, hosted 2018’s edition of Critical Pedagogies at Castrum Peregrini for students enrolled in the two-year Master Education in Arts programme at Piet Zwart Institute, an interdisciplinary research programme merging theory and practice. As a current intern at Castrum Peregrini as part of my MA in Arts and Society at Utrecht University, I was lucky to be able to listen in to the day of talks and discussions held in in Gisèle’s studio. With a breadth of teaching experience within (and outside) the mainstream education system and a diverse span of ages and backgrounds, the small group of students brought sharp observations and a supportive atmosphere of creative, critical enquiry. With a morning introduction to The House of Gisèle and Castrum Peregrini’s complex heritage, the afternoon began with Andries Hiskes from Leiden University sharing his PhD research into disability and its affective affordances. Renée’s own ongoing artistic research project based at Castrum Peregrini, The Warp and Weft of Memory, was explored later in the afternoon. Renée was joined by senior lecturer and interdisciplinary research advisor, Professor Frans-Willem Korsten, to moderate the day.

Firstly, Frans welcomed the small group of students with a tour of the two historic apartments within Castrum Peregrini’s building, contextualising the history of the organisation and the setting for a day of critical enquiry. Alongside the story of Gisèle’s eclectic upbringing, Frans explained the intense wartime period where Jewish students hid in Gisèle’s apartment along with their teacher, poet Wolfgang Frommel, and the later establishment of a creative community in 1952. The group were also introduced to Castrum Peregrini’s contemporary artistic programme, including Dutch artist Amie Dicke’s poetic emergency blanket installation, After Goldschmidt (2012). Thinking through other mediums or approaches to contemporary artistic research, sound was raised as an important sensory aspect of hiding, along with the vast collections of books, both of which have inspired work by previous artists in residence.

Prompted by Renée, who is unfolding stories from Gisèle’s wardrobe and letters, Frans told the story of the German’s second raid on the apartment, when an officer decided to make no arrests despite making it clear that the papers provided for the hiders were insufficient. Was he having a good day? Was he pleased to meet a German-speaking household? Did he take a liking to someone? The impact of personal decisions and challenges to the status quo flowed on, in a day that played with ideas around the personal and the societal.

In Gisèle’s ‘Salon’, the top floor apartment she moved to after the war, students keenly observed Gisèle’s own painting in the midst of her collections of natural objects and artefacts. The five-panelled painting, Moira, sparked conversations over organisational links and cultural responsibilities with the painting now owned by Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam with the stipulation that it remains in the house. The students were mesmerised by Gisèle’s multi-panelled painting, Cycladic Ritual, mechanised to enable thirty two different compositions with undulating forms giving way to goddesses and back again, with requests for one last turn! Renée makes the point; Giselle was ¨digital before digital!¨ Indeed, Gisèle herself believed it to the first ‘mobile painting’ of its kind. Semantics, rhythms and connections tumble on throughout the day. With no snow or ice to keep us inside, we venture out onto the roof terrace: here we could see across Amsterdam’s historic rooftops and facades, but we ourselves remained hidden.

Descending to Gisèle’s studio, a glowing, book-filled, gallery-like space, the students settled in a horseshoe formation to begin the more structured element of teaching. Since last yearś Critical Pedagogies day, the context had changed with the recent articles in Vrij Nederland exposing the abuses of power within the building before the death of Wolfgang Frommel in 1986. Discussions turned to the Ancient Greek concept of ‘pedagogical eros’, where love connected students and teachers with both sexual and platonic relationships. They discussed the difference between ethics and morality, and how to address such histories from an ethical perspective. Within a small, intergenerational academic setting, the conversation broached ‘vulnerable topics’ that are often shut down in society; everyone agreed that safe spaces are needed to discuss and challenge societyś constraints. As professor Frans-Willem Korsten reminded us, after all, people are ‘just bodies’, and therefore bring with them embodied complexities.

Bodies then, and those considered disabled or deformed, were the focus of Andries Hiskes presentation of his PHD research. Utilising media, art and literature as resources, Andreis asked his audience to analyse and question  their own responses ‘deviant bodies’ presented in examples including photos used on inclusion flyers (school children in wheelchairs smiling instead of working) , Michelangeloś David (propped up by a tree stump) and Tiny Tim in Dickenś Christmas Carol; ‘God Bless us, Every one’ (every one, but not a homogenous whole). Can we treat students and pupils fairly? Is it possible? And, what, asks Renée, does education lose from its inherent standardisation?

A group of educators in 2018, embarking on two years of critical research, are indeed likely to have thought about inclusion in the classroom, lecture hall or workshop, but Andreis provoked a thorough rethink. ‘What does inclusion mean?’ Andreis asked. An embrace. Those excluded. A whole. A rabbit hole of problems opened up: if, for instance, there is a functioning whole, there is no one outside to make the embrace. We were pointed to the etymology of these terms that proliferate education, the arts and society; in fact, inclusion has roots in ‘confinement’ whilst diversity stems from ‘difference’, ‘contradiction’, ‘disagreement’ and even ‘wicked’ and ‘perverse’. Andreis invited us to read, or to ‘materialise the complexity’ of disability via art and literature, and through this active engagement with our emotional response, allow ourselves to question society’s language, protocols and behaviour. As students observed, the same practice could be applied to colonialism, and my thoughts returned to how we can broach the relevant issue of historic abuse. Nothing is black and white, Andreis states, just as Frans-Willem had earlier suggested that Castrum Peregrini’s heritage should not be reduced to a simple dichotomy of light and dark.

In the afternoon, students got to learn about their tutor’s own artistic research project, The Warp and Weft of Memory. Reading aloud from The Female Perspective, Castrum Peregrini’s publication for the 2017/2018 programme, Renée takes us on a journey into Gisèle’s closet, shows us the private Wiki which serves as a digital sketchbook and conceptual archive as well as unbuttoning a timeless cape that occupies a mannequin in the studio space alongside a red Dick Holthaus dress. Renée is open about her process, including her search for the right voice (in first person? Via letters? Renée as actor? A stranger?) and the recent idea of filming items of clothing, such as heavy skirts spread out, to express the sensory aspects, sound and movement, via digital (flat) means. Renée’s two year process will end in the summer, and so we all, myself included, are reassured that ideas, and experimentation take time.

Renée explains that she is used to writing for online rather than print mediums, and so she heavily edited her words for the printed magazine style publication. Here, unlike the Wiki and its tagging system or semantics developed by Renée and her collaborators, the placing of the images is static. The printed page cannot not express Gisèle’s fluid use of scarves, hats and costumes in her experimentation of performing, posing and painting with herself muse. A large, ornate mirror still occupies the studio space, hung on hinges like a door, and numerous photographs show Gisèle reflected in its glass. Renée references To the Lighthouse and the poetic vestiges of people and actions (like buttoning and unbuttoning) that it signifies. The flatness of the mirror and the digitally scanned black and white archive photographs of Gisèle reflected in that mirror, are again flattened behind glass on Renée’s laptop screen.

 ‘Are you like me, am I like you?’ Renée asks in her writing, and we discuss whether Gisèle preempted that her personal archive, including her closet, would be researched by an artist. Or was her need to classify, to make inventories, the habit of a girl who grew up with servants with a sense of entitlement? A student asks where will Renée’s research go next, and she tells us about moving onto two other archives, with textile objects opening entirely different narratives. The day ended with wine back on the ground floor, connections whirring and questions firing.

On the symposium Diasporic Objects

On conflicted (migration) heritage

By Hanne Buckinx

In research for our future exhibition on conflicted (migration) heritage, the team of Castrum Peregrini attended the Symposium Diasporic Objects at the Research Center for Material Culture in Leiden. The symposium depicts the important role of diasporic objects in connecting, groups and individuals today.

[Read more…]

Guided tour by Charlott Markus

Reflection on the construction of the self after the guided tour by Charlott Markus, curator and artist Some Things Hidden

By José Hopkins

This past March 4th, Charlott Markus guided us through the exhibition “Some Things Hidden”, a collaborative effort between Framer Framed and Castrum Peregrini. This project was composed by two exhibitions or two chapters of the same story – the year program called “The Female Perspectives” curated by Nina Folkersma.

[Read more…]

The Female Perspective

Highlights of The Female Perspective Programme 2017/2018

‘The Female Perspective is not so much about the question of what the female perspective is, but rather about what we can learn when we listen to women’s stories.’

Castrum Peregrini proudly presents the one-off magazine The Female Perspective. The magazine is published on the occasion of The Female Perspective programme 2017/2018, curated by Nina Folkersma, as part of the cultural activities programme Memory Machine by Castrum Peregrini. The magazine is edited in collaboration with Mister Motley.

The focal point of The Female Perspective programme was Castum Peregrini’s founder Gisèle van Waterschoot van der Gracht, as patron, artist and woman. Gisèle’s story continues to be a source of inspiration for artists, writers and intellectuals today. In 2017/2018, the cultural activities of Castrum Peregrini zoomed in on the ‘womanhood’ of Gisèle and her role and position as a woman in a group of male friends, in relation to currents issues around female identity, feminism and gender. What was, and what is, the significance of women in resistance movements? What can we learn from feminist theory when thinking about cultural diversity and inclusiveness? How can we bend the existing frameworks of female identity and gender?

The Female Perspective consisted of a series of exhibitions, performances, artist talks and lectures. Participating artists and contributors included Mieke Bal, Alexis Blake, Katerina Gregos, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Annet Mooij, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Renée Turner and many more.


The magazine contains material that reflects The Female Perspective’s activities over the year 2017 and 2018. There are contributions from almost exclusively female artists, thinkers, writers and academics. These contributions include, amongst others, essays by Adeola Enigbokan, Marjan Schwegman and Christel Vesters; interviews with Mieke Bal and Katerina Gregos; and artists contributions by Patricia Kaersenhout, Ronit Porat and Pieter Paul Pothoven.

The magazine also contains an exhibition guide to Some Things Hidden, an exhibition in two parts that took place in Castrum Peregrini from 18 to 26 November 2017 and has its second chapter in Framer Framed from 19 January to 11 March 2018. The Some Things Hidden part of the magazine is focused on the exhibition concept and the participating artists, with texts based on interviews by Lietje Bauwens. The artists in Some Things Hidden are: Hélène Amouzou, Alexis Blake, Sara Blokland, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Zhana Ivanova, Bertien van Manen, Charlott Markus, Shana Moulton, Femmy Otten, Marijn Ottenhof, Cauleen Smith and Batia Suter.

The magazine is available from 18th January 2018 at Castrum Peregrini and at Framer Framed during the exhibition Some Things Hidden.

15 – 17 December Women + Craft + Poetry

Artists Weekend: Women + Craft + Poetry

Fri 15 Dec – Sun 17 Dec 2017

You are cordially invited to our second Artists Weekend: a weekend full of artist talks, presentations, conversations and poetry readings, from Friday December 15 till Sunday December 17 in Castrum Peregrini. The Artists Weekend is part of our 2017 year programme The Female Perspective, curated by Nina Folkersma. This programme focuses on issues around female identity, feminism and gender, both in relation to the historical context of Castrum Peregrini and its founder Gisèle, and to current events.

The 2nd Artist Weekend is devoted to Women + Craft + Poetry. Guests of honor are two of our artists-in-residence, Aimée Zito Lema and Renée Turner. At their invitation, and in dialogue with curator Nina Folkersma, various artists, curators, writers, weavers and poets are invited to present their work and ideas.


Friday, Dec 15   20:00 – 22:00

Introduction Nina Folkersma

Lecture Christel Vesters – Some notes on women, labour and textile craft

Triggered by two unrelated news items about textiles, writer and curator Christel Vesters embarks on an expedition, looking for a common thread that may connect the two. Her explorations touch upon particular events and ideas in the history of textile production, utopian socialism, the Arts & Crafts Movement and the women’s movement, juxtaposing some key moments in those histories with examples from contemporary artist practices.


Saturday, Dec 16     14:00 – 18:00

Conversations + presentations

Renée Turner, Joke Haverkorn van Rijsewijk and Kate Briggs 

Narrative and weaving are often associated with each other through the metaphors we use. Join us for a day of presentations and discussions that look at weaving as a hands-on craft and its relation to the act of writing. Renée Turner will talk about her research project The Warp and Weft of Memory and have a conversation with Joke Haverkorn van Rijsewijk about her work at the weaving studio De Uil (The Owl), where she made monumental tapestries for Gisèle and other artists. On view will be some of the images from De Uil and a few of the woven artefacts from Gisèle’s collection. Kate Briggs, author of the recently published book This Little Art, will be drawing analogies between weaving and the processes of writing, translating and storytelling.

Drinks + Fingerfood by Mina Abouzahra

Entrance fee: 5 euro (incl. drinks & snacks)

Make sure you have a seat reserved and RSVP:


Sunday, Dec 17    14:00- 18:00

Readings + conversations

Aimée Zito Lema, Becket Mingwen, Iva Supic Jankovic and School der Poëzie

Aimée Zito Lema

Aimée Zito Lema

This afternoon Aimée Zito Lema will introduce her residency project and research on friendship as a form of resistance. Thinking of the house (of Gisèle) as the most intimate and private kind of archive, connected to daily life experiences, she will read one of the transcripts of her conversations on friendship. The afternoon will continue with a presentation and poetry reading by visual artist Becket Mingwen. Becket’s text responds to politics and friendship as mirrors of each other – the same pitfalls and promises reflected between the interpersonal and the public. For the presentation at Castrum Peregrini, he will engage these ideas with Zito Lema’s project by discussing the role of friendship in the making of art, allies, and enemies, while exploring many of the ambiguities between them. Iva Supic Jankovic will present a musical performance called House on the Water. Music is a very intimate part of Jankovic’s work- sharing such work within this specific context allows a certain degree of vulnerability and intimacy that is hard to find in a regular art space context. The afternoon will end with poetry readings by teenage students from the School of Poetry, presenting the outcomes of their workshop organized by Zito Lema in collaboration with Dasja Koot.


Drinks + Fingerfood by Mina Abouzahra

Entrance fee: 5 euro (incl. drinks & snacks)

Make sure you have a seat reserved and RSVP:



Mina Abouzahra studied at the Wood and Furniture School in Amsterdam. She has a passion for wood, textiles, copper and marble. A red thread in her life is the combination of different cultures. With the same attitude, Mina was active in the world of food; she wrote recipes, developed food concepts, organized pop-up restaurants and produced with Merijn Tol (Arabia) the cookbook Proef! Orange blossom, the new Moroccan cuisine. The designs of Abouzahra are surprising and colorful, and inspired by a continuous search for new combinations of materials, shapes and production methods. Mina Abouzahra travels every few months to Morocco for inspiration and to search for old, rare and beautiful things she can import, both for her shop and for clients directly.

Kate Briggs is the translator of two volumes of Roland Barthes’s lecture and seminar notes at the Collège de France: The Preparation of the Novel and How to Live Together, both published by Columbia University Press. This Little Art, a long narrative essay on the practice of translation, was published by Fitzcarraldo Editions in September 2017. She teaches on the MFA in Fine Art at the Piet Zwart Institute Rotterdam.

Joke Haverkorn van Rijsewijk is a weaver and writer. With Nenne Koch in 1956, she founded the weaving studio De Uil in Amsterdam. Their first commission was for a tapestry by Gisèle van Waterschoot van der Gracht for the SS Statendam, and later four more tapestries for the clubroom of the S.S. Rotterdam. Haverkorn van Rijsewijk has recently written an essay, ‘Living and Love in Image’ (Leven en liefde verbeeld), reflecting on a tapestry she made based on an image by the German Expressionist August Macke.

Becket Mingwen received his MFA from the University of Southern California in 2014, and was recently a resident at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam, NL. Recent exhibitions include  “n <o> <o> n” at One Gee in Fog, Geneva; “From Concrete to Liquid to Spoken Words to the World” at Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève. His book on Chris Kraus’ 1996 “Chance Event” is forthcoming from Athénée Press.

School der Poëzie, School of Poetry, offers lessons to children and young people to get them acquainted with poetry, writing and performing their own poems. Tailor-made programs and lessons for schools and institutions. The ‘School der Poëzie’ derives its name from the collection of poet Herman Gorter (1897) and a famous poem by Lucebert (1952).

Iva Supic Jankovic, visual artist (born in Croatia), studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie and received a Master degree in Artistic Research from the Royal Academy, The Hague. She produces long term collaborative and trans-diciplinary projects that challenge an question the borders of visual art. More info:

Renée Turner is an artist, writer and Research Lecturer at the Willem de Kooning Academy. Currently as an artist in residence at Castrum Peregrini, Turner is working on a two-year research project ‘The Warp and Weft of Memory’. Funded by the Mondriaan Funds, her research will result in public lectures, an exhibition and an online narrative, which combines images from Castrum Peregrini’s archive, artefacts from Gisèle’s closet and Turner’s own reflections on memory and objects of heritage.

Christel Vesters studied Art History and Curating in Amsterdam, New York and London. She is a writer and curator, and currently works on a two-year research project Touch/Trace – researching histories through textiles, which unravels the intricate connections between textile, history and society from a contemporary art perspective.

Aimée Zito Lema, visual artist (born in Amsterdam, 1982, grew up in Buenos Aires) studied at the University of the Arts, Buenos Aires, the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam, and was a resident at the Rijksakademie Amsterdam in 2015-2016. Currently an artist in residence at Castrum Peregrini, she is working on a research project about friendship as a form of resistance.


Art As Resistance, afl 2 Taking the oil out of the arts

Art As Resistance, #2

Taking the oil out of the arts

Tuesday 28 November 2017, 20 hrs

location: Framer Framed    IJpromenade 2  1013 KT Amsterdam

Reservations / Tickets

Fossil Free Culture NL - Drop the Shell, 2017. Credit: Laura Ponchel

Fossil Free Culture NL – Drop the Shell, 2017. Credit: Laura Ponchel

Framer FramedHumanity in Action Nederland and Castrum Peregrini present a three part symposium series, ‘Art as Resistance’. For the second symposium in the series, ‘Taking the oil out of the arts’, we are zooming in on the ethics of cultural institutions taking on financial sponsorships by fossil fuel companies. How do corporate companies benefit from this ‘greenwashing’? To what extent should their cultural beneficiaries be held responsibie? And what are the impacts of ‘artistic activism’ to address this issue?

Art as Resistance #2 will take place at Framer Framed and features presentations and a workshop by BP or not BP? and Fossil Free Culture NL.  In their presentations, BP or Not BP and Fossil Free Culture NL introduce participants to the topic and present examples of how they create impact through artistic interventions.  The presentations are followed by a workshop Artistic Activism, with both organisations giving practical guidelines on how to generate effective and affective experiences that lead to measurable social change. After the workshop participants will have a better sense of the framework in which the Fossil Free Culture movement work. They will learn to implement artistic tactics to a larger campaigning strategy.

BP or not BP? (a clever play on ‘to be or not to be’ from Shakespeare’s Hamlet) are a national network of ‘actor-vists’ in the UK, performing disobedient theatre in many different oil-sponsored spaces. They are part of the Art Not Oil coalition – a group that protests against museums accepting sponsorship from major oil corporations, which they say is a form of ‘greenwashing’. Read more:

Fossil Free Culture NL are a network of artists, activists and scholars at the intersection of cultural work and climate politics. They are campaigning to expose and confront the influence of the fossil fuel industry on cultural institutions in the Netherlands. Recent protests include the May & September 2017 impromptu #droptheshell and #spoiledlandscapes protest-performances at the Van Gogh Museum, demonstrating the museum’s ties to oil giant Shell. Several protestors were arrested. Read more:

On the organisers: Framer Framed, Humanity in Action Nederland and Castrum Peregrini are organisations dealing with themes of collective memory and cultural identities. In three sessions, we team up to jointly explore the necessity for a change in how cultural institutions and producers should (re)present stories and relate critically to histories as well as to the financial structures they are part of.

Our first symposium, Art as Resistance #1, took place at Castrum Peregrini and dealt with the topic of involving communities in activism and the local relevance of a place.

Read more and see:


The Warp and Weft of Memory

The Warp and Weft of Memory

The Warp and Weft of Memory is a research project by artist Renée Turner. She has been funded by the Mondriaan Fund to work at Castrum Peregrini from September 2016 to September 2018.  The work explores the wardrobe of Gisèle d’Ailly van Waterschoot van der Gracht, and the ways in which it reflects her life, work, and histories through textiles and clothing. The aim is to weave connections to the present from a personal perspective. As a whole the project will have different contributions and public manifestations through public lectures, an exhibition and an online narrative combining artefacts, written reflections and images from Gisèle’s own archive of photographs.

Update One Year On: Inside Gisèle’s Closet

Renée Turner

Illustration of Gisèle’s attic apartment closet by Cesare Davolio

Illustration of Gisèle’s attic apartment closet by Cesare Davolio

Her closet is full. Next to garments on hangers, there are also shelves stacked with various accessories and boxes. Summer shoes, wool hats, leather gloves, woven bags and exotic slippers – each box has its own label penned with a black magic marker. More labels float within the boxes; these are subcategories.

The smell of Gisèle’s closet is a combination of dust, dry rot, perfume and naphthalene. The heating pipes run through the closet, making it unbearably warm and the aromas combined with the heat, become a scent diffuser. I try to smell her, but can’t. We can only smell people we’ve known. Or that’s how we recognize that we smell them. Her scent might still be there, but I never knew Gisèle, and cannot recognize it. To be in someone else’s closet is an odd experience. It is intimate, and sometimes uncomfortably so. These objects were the nearest to her body, and many garments still retain her shape. Clothing animates our bodies, and we in turn animate our clothes. Virginia Woolf writes about this in her novel, To the Lighthouse: “What people had shed and left — a pair of shoes, a shooting cap, some faded skirts and coats in wardrobes — those alone kept the human shape and in the emptiness indicated how once they were filled and animated; how once hands were busy with hooks and buttons; how once the looking-glass had held a face; had held a world hollowed out in which a figure turned…” (1) Working on a project like this, I realize projection is inevitable; the gaps are filled with my own reflection.

Left: Gisèle’s mirror 2017, Right: Gisèle’s mirror date unknown

Left: Gisèle’s mirror 2017, Right: Gisèle’s mirror date unknown

I have spent the past year photographing the contents of Gisèle’s closet and scanning relevant images from her photographic archive. Some items are of significance, like her dresses designed by Dick Holthaus, a well-known Dutch designer, and others are more banal, like a box of gloves or a drawer of pantyhose. What should be done with those things with little status?

Some of Gisèle’s clothes are not represented in her archive of photographs. For example, there are no images of her in the Holthaus dresses. Maybe she didn’t like the formal occasions during which she wore them. But other clothes are in images, especially those the most closely related to her work. For example her vividly coloured harlequin costume was used as a source for her paintings. She was her own muse.

An image taken from Gisèle’s archive, one of several photographs of her modelling for one of her paintings. Painting: 'Plumed ladies' (1964)

An image taken from Gisèle’s archive, one of several photographs of her modelling for one of her paintings. Painting: ‘Plumed ladies’ (1964)

Gisèle’s harlequin costume as found in her closet. Made of polyester, the colour remains unfaded.

Gisèle’s harlequin costume as found in her closet. Made of polyester, the colour remains unfaded.

As the clothes are documented, images are scanned, and eventually uploaded and tagged within the digital archive, I think about what makes an object worthy of remembrance. By what merit is something christened heritage or not? With that judgement, the present casts its dice towards an imagined future, waging a bet on stakes unknown. What constitutes value in the now might not be necessarily significant for the future and vice versa. It is a posture akin to Marshall McLuhan’s adage in The Medium is the Massage: “The past went that-a-way. When faced with a totally new situation, we tend always to attach ourselves to the objects, to the flavour of the most recent past. We look at the present through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into the future.” In imagining the future and what it will value, we sometimes fall short of the mark. While McLuhan was speaking about technology, his sentiments are equally prescient when thinking about how we stockpile the present for tomorrow’s history.

Credits and Thanks:

The Mondriaan Fund

Castrum Peregrini: Michael Defuster, Frans Damman & Lars Ebert

Kate Pullinger: contributor

Frans-Willem Korsten: contributor

Andre Castro: mediawiki and server space

Ana Isabel Carvalho and Ricardo Lafuente: frontend design

Cristina Cochior: scans, photography and mediawiki

Cesare Davolio: illustrations

Riek Sijbring: advice on textiles and clothing


All images are the sole copyright of the Castrum Peregrini Foundation and were selected and scanned as a part of The Warp and Weft of Memory, a project by artist Renée Turner. The project was made possible through the generous support of the Mondriaan Fund.



In spring 2016 we announced The Warp and Weft of Memory as upcoming research project by Renée Turner as follows:


“Every poet of furniture — even if he be a poet in a garret, and therefore has no furniture — knows that the inner space of an old wardrobe is deep.” 

Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space, 1958

warp and weft

The Warp and Weft of Memory is a research project by artist and writer Renée Turner, which will result in an online narrative exploring the contents of Gisèle d’Ailly van Waterschoot van der Gracht’s wardrobe, and the ways in which it reflects her life, work, and larger histories through textiles and clothing.

The project, combining fact and fiction, has been generously supported by the Creative Industries Fund NL, and is a collaboration with Kate Pullinger (award winning author of novels and digital fiction), Andre Castro (with an expertise in wikis, Open Source software and hybrid publishing), Ana Isabel Carvalho and Ricardo Lafuente (a free/libre graphic design duo working under the name Manufactura Independente), and Cesare Davolio (an illustrator working on educational projects and socially oriented campaigns).

At the end of the research period, the online multi-nodal narrative will be launched along with an exhibition and series of related lectures, presentations and discussions.



Call for the immediate release of Osman Kavala

We, the friends and supporters of Castrum Peregrini, are deeply concerned by the recent arrest of Osman Kavala. Kavala was detained on 18 October Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport upon returning from the southeastern city of Gaziantep. He has been held in detention ever since. No charges have so far been laid against him.

Osman Kavala is not just a friend of Castrum Peregrini but one of Turkey’s most important intellectual and cultural figures.  He has played a prominent part both in defending the rights and liberties of all in Turkey, and in bringing together people of different political viewpoints to discuss their differences and to work out a common language of civil debate. Nothing could be more important in Turkey – and in many other countries – today.

Osman Kavala has played an important role not just in encouraging discussion inside Turkey but also in presenting the complexities of Turkey to the outside world. His work has been invaluable in making many people outside the country understand and appreciate Turkey. His work should be celebrated, not condemned.

We call for the immediate release of Osman Kavala. We call also for the release of the many others – academics, journalists and public servants – who have also been arrested and detained in recent months in similar circumstances. We support the work of all those in Turkey striving to create a strong civil society in which political disagreements and disputes can be resolved through public discussion and mutual respect.


Avraham Burg, author and former speaker of the Knesset, Nataf, Israel

Frans Damman, Michael Defuster and Lars Ebert, Castrum Peregrini, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Adeola Enigbokan, artist and urbanist, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Quinsy Gario, artist and activist, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Kenan Malik, writer, lecturer and broadcaster, London, UK

Dominique Moïsi, political scientist, Paris, France

Wendelien van Oldenborgh, artist, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Diana Pinto, intellectual historian, Paris, France

Mirjam Shatanawi, cultural critic and curator, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Thijs Tromp, Secretary of the board, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Katherine Watson, director European Cultural Foundation, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Gloria Wekker, social and cultural anthropologist, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

NIETS IS OOIT AF – over herinneringsculturen


“Mijn babykleertjes werden gemaakt van de aan elkaar genaaide stukjes boeklinnen.”

Verslag van de tentoonstelling & het programma over Indische herinneringsculturen

Zondag 24 september 2017, 16 uur

Met: Merapi Obermayer, Esther Captain, Edy Seriese, Het Geluid Maastricht en Erik Somers

[Read more…]


De Oude Kerk, Museum van Loon, H401 and De Reinwardt Academie make up the INTERHISTORICITEIT coalition supported within the framework of 3Package Deal. It wants to stimulate ‘creative producers’ to develop activities that connect and combine historic periods and cultural contexts.

The coalition has supported

Ronit Porat from October 2016 to September 2017,

Smári Róbertsson from October 2017 to October 2018,

Stéphanie Saadé from October 2018 to October 2019,

Aude Christel Mgba from October 2020 to October 2021,

Ima-Abasi Okon from October 2021 to October 2022,

Ana Navas from January 2023 to January 2024

Guston Sondin-Kung from January 2024 to January 2025.



smári rúnar róbertsson: this clock before it existed

Stéphanie Saadé: The Travels of Here and Now


H401 (voordien Castrum Peregrini) heeft een onafhankelijk vertrouwenspersoon aangesteld die als meldpunt zal fungeren voor hen, die onder de verantwoordelijkheid van de stichting negatieve ervaringen hebben opgedaan.

Freek Walther heeft als voornaamste taak, in alle rust te luisteren naar diegenen die over dit onderwerp willen spreken. Hij neemt hiervoor alle tijd. Het contact is vertrouwelijk zolang de melder daar waarde aan hecht, maar desgewenst zal Freek ons adviseren over de wijze waarop wij invulling kunnen geven aan de verantwoordelijkheid die wij in dezen dragen.

Freek is direct bereikbaar via het telefoonnummer 06-18518001, of per e-mail:

Er is ook een vrouwelijk vertrouwenspersoon beschikbaar: Marianne Dijkhuizen. Zij is bereikbaar via het telefoonnummer 06-50212048 of per e-mail:

De Vertrouwenspersoon is gecertificeerd door de Landelijke Vereniging van Vertrouwenspersonen, lees hier meer.

2017: The Female Perspective

Starting point of the 2017 programme is the artist and founder of Castrum Peregrini, Gisèle van Waterschoot van der Gracht (1912 – 2013). The life of Gisèle proves time and again to be a source of inspiration for artists, writers and intellectuals. Nevertheless, her female sex and more generally the female identity and sexuality have not been a theme in Castrum Peregrini’s programme before. The Female Perspective zooms in on the ‘womanhood’ of Gisèle and the social and cultural meanings of female identity, sexuality, feminism and gender, both in relation to the historical context and to current events.

All events of this programme are shown in the general events agenda.


Living as Form





This two-day international conference in Amsterdam about participatory art in education and culture featured keynote presentations of cutting edge initiatives, panel discussions, workshops and open space technology sessions for an active role of all participants sharing their practice and peer-to-peer exchange.


With a.o. Renzo Martens, Patricia Kaesenhout, Pier Luigi Sacco,- and you!


The conference Living as Form followed up on previous conferences Participation on Trial (Amsterdam, October 2014) and  European Academy of Participation (Dublin, October 2016). It concluded the 2nd year of the EU project European Academy of Participation,

Living as Form brought together international and national initiatives to foster synergies: How is internationalisation of education taking shape? What good practice can we share of border crossing artistic and community work? How to match the international and the local in cultural programmes?

Living as Form discussed the relations of the cultural and social field and education and the possibilities of a formalised educational offer for artists that involves all these areas.


Please find here the detailed programme Living as Form

Watch the key presentations on our YouTube Channel


Who participated?

Artists, curators, producers, community and institutional leaders, teachers, researchers and critics, from the Netherlands and around the world.



Nato Thompson, from whom we borrow the title of this conference, asks whether it is time at the beginning of the 21st century to return Duchamp’s urinal from the museum to the real world. But the question arises whether it would be accepted by the ‘real world’ today, where one is suspicious towards arts and the artists in their elite bubble. Art keeps engaging with life, trying to find new forms of expression and impact. What is the artistic form of live today, or should we rather talk about art as resistance? And how does education prepare the artists of the future for their role in these new realities?


The conference Living As Form critically discussed the embeddedness of participatory practice in an international framework that has rapidly changed in the last two years. Before that, participatory art has largely been perceived through the historical lens of what happened since the fall of the Berlin wall. The ‘end of history’-feeling has led to the long prevailing paradigm of neoliberalism, our current political order of free trade and open markets. In this paradigm, the private sector takes the lead and the role of the public and that of the state supporting the public is pushed to the background. Simultaneously, alongside the positive effects of participation in and through art and culture, the term participation has been appropriated by the neoliberal policies to stress the fact that individuals need to take their own responsibility versus a withdrawing welfare state. Political support focussed on the economy and the financial market, not the citizen. In turn, and quite ironically, citizens and artists were expected to compensate for austerity politics, being manoeuvred into roles that would ‘art wash’ a misery that should have actually been solved by other professionals: care takers, city planners, social workers etc..

Meanwhile, the world has changed. One could believe that in countries like the USA, Britain, Poland, the Netherlands and Hungary, the revolutionary potential of people and their representatives, long considered to be the domain of the left, is now with populist and nationalist movements that battle principles of enlightenment such as human rights, equality and solidarity. In the fake and factless news their representatives produce, expertise, high end culture and, consequently, artists are framed as the enemies of the ‘people’. Nevertheless, the basic question stays the same: how can artists engage with communities in a mutual beneficial way, towards progress and more culturally and economically inclusive societies?


In the period October 2015 – February 2016 all partners of the EAP project have collaboratively developed a Tuning Document Participatory Art Practice_Creative Producer and the respective graduate profile of a Creative Producer. The document is intended as a reference document that reflects the diversity of the field in Europe and at the same time serves as a benchmark for curriculum builders, teachers, employers and all those academics and practitioners that want to enhance educational and practical development. It set out to establish a MA level standard and contribute to enhancing pedagogy in this field of practice. It is published at

The documents competences inform an intensive Higher Education Course Module that EAP has piloted in London in July 2017 with 30 international students (art graduates and mid-career artists) and 12 international teachers.

The conference was embedded in the projects activities and discussions so far, and invited the Dutch and the international field to contribute with expertise and experiences and use the event as a networking and sharing possibility.



Doopsgezinde Kerk, Singel 452, Amsterdam; Castrum Peregrini, Herengracht 401, Amsterdam; Goethe-Institut, Herengracht 470, Amsterdam.


Organised by


Castrum Peregrini, Amsterdam, The Netherlands representing the EAP – European Academy of Participation partners.

In collaboration with Goethe Institut Lyon and Amsterdam, Tandem for Culture, Community Participation (European Cultural Foundation/MitOst), and representatives of the Willem De Kooning Academy Rotterdam, DAS Art Amsterdam, University of Utrecht and University of the Arts Utrecht.

The conference was financially supported by Fonds Voor Cultuurparticipatie, The Erasmus+ programme of the European Commission and the Goethe Institute Netherlands.

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Castrum Peregrini Foundation is an independent cultural centre in an Amsterdam canal house. It emerged out of a community that survived there in hiding during World War II. It wants to be a place where individuals come together to make a positive contribution to an inclusive society. Participation in art and culture is a prime instrument towards this goal.

Castrum Peregrini Dialogue

We have realised the first round of our think tank, the Castrum Peregrinin Dialogue, with the generous support of the Pauwhoff Fund and in close partnership with the European Cultural Foundation and the Dialogue Advisory Group. The latter – an internationally acclaimed group of peace mediators- holds office here in our premises.

The ECF is a kindred organisation that is close to our heart in many respects. With our own history as a hiding place in which art, culture and friendship helpt young people to survive in this house we embrace ECFs mission to strive for an open, democratic and inclusive Europe within which culture is a valued and key contributor.

Together Castrum Peregrini and the ECF share the desire to develop viable concepts of living together in diversity.

In our recent publication The House of Gisèle we have published Kenan Maliks wonderful article Living in Diversity, a lecture that he delivered when we launched the house of Gisèle and Job Cohen unveiled a plaque at our building in May 2016. We took Kenans tekst as a motivation, a framing paper so to speak to bring together a divers group of thinkers from all walks of life and various disciplines to meet three times in one year for 2,5 days and analyse in a conversation, the root causes of fragmentation in Europe and the world today and what we need to take into account when thinking about how living in diversity can work. We tried to balance participation of man and woman, younger and older generation, white and non-white, various religious backgrounds. Also we made sure that we create a protected environment, apply Chatham House Rules for instance, so that everyone feels safe and can speak up, be vulnerable and engage in a dialogue that is based on learning from one another in the first place. Our experience is that our heritage – like the studio of Gisèle – offers a frame, physically and spiritually, which makes those conversations more easy, respectful and intense.

Also we engaged two experienced moderators, Avrum Burg, members of our board of recommendation, author and former speaker of the Knesset as well as Ram Manikkalingam, director of the Dialogue Advisory Group, seconded by Fleur Ravensbergen.

We work to a set agenda, everybody of the 20 participants around the table gives a short input to a certain session, like social justice, and then we speak for 1,5 hours, before we go to the next session. All is reported and after three meetings we bundle it to share it with opinnleaders, programme makers, activists etc. For this first round of meetings 2016/17 we strive to publish outcomes by December 2017.

  1. Avraham Burg, author, former politician, a.o. speaker of the Knesset (moderator)
  2. Ram Manikkalingam, director Dialogue Advisory Group (moderator)
  3. Fleur Ravensbergen, deputy director Dialogue Advisory Group (moderator)
  4. Mirjam Shatanawi, curator Middle East and North Africa, Tropen Museum, NL (rapporteur)
  5. Brian Burgoon, Director Institute for Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam, NL
  6. Adeola Enigbokan, Social Scientist, Amsterdam/New York
  7. Quinsy Gario, poet, artist, activist, NL
  8. Osman Kavala, president Anadolu Kültür, Istanbul, TR
  9. Charl Landvreugd, artist, curator, writer, Rotterdam, NL
  10. Kenan Malik, writer, lecturer, broadcaster, London, UK
  11. Dominique Moïsi, political scientist and writer, Paris, FR
  12. Wendelien van Oldenborgh, artist, representing NL at 2017 Venice Biennale, NL
  13. Thijs Tromp, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, Amsterdam, NL
  14. Diana Pinto, cultural historian, Paris, FR
  15. Jordi Vaquer, regional director for Europe at Open Society, ES
  16. Katherine Watson, director European Cultural Foundation, Amsterdam, NL
  17. Gloria Wekker, Anthropologist and author, NL
  18. Gertraud Auer Borea d’Olmo, secretary general Bruno Kreisky Forum, Vienna, AT

SYNCHRONICLE by Carina Erdmann


by Carina Erdmann

28 – 30 September 2017

Photos from the exhibition opening and the artist talk with Daniel Vorthuys and ‘objects also die’ by Jacob Eriksen

[Read more…]

Artist Weekend: Women and Resistance

Artist Weekend: Women and Resistance

Remembering is repetition. Remembering is the only confusion. Do you understand?

by Amber Coomans

5 – 7 May 2017

As a heritage student, something I learned on the first day was that history is constructed. Heritage is a label that people stick onto something they find important. This Artist Weekend is about that very aspect of history: how come when we google the word resistance (verzet in Dutch), only one woman pops up in Google Images?

From Friday May 5th until Sunday May 7th I attended Castrum Peregrini’s first Artist Weekend: Women and Resistance, a weekend full of artist talks, debates, presentations and film screenings. The weekend is part of a yearlong program titled The Female Perspective, which focuses on questions of female identity, feminism and gender, both in relation to the historical context of Castrum Peregrini and its founder Gisèle van Waterschoot van der Gracht. I watched this weekend, obviously, through my own eyes: a young heritage student with many questions about history, heritage and also about Gisèle’s own affinity with the female identity which was broadly debated this weekend.

The weekend opens with an introduction by curator Nina Folkersma, in which she explains more about the Female Perspective in relation to Castrum Peregrini: the house of female artist Gisèle, where she worked and lived, is the perfect place for such an event. Castrum Peregrini not only wants to preserve the material heritage of her studio and living space, but also the immaterial heritage of friendship, respect, culture and art. In WWII, Castrum Pererini served as a hiding place where spiritual and artistic freedom was the greatest survival tool.

This freedom also plays a central role in the film by Lynn Herschman that follows Folkersma’s introduction. It is about the relationship between the feminist art movement and the anti-war movement in the 1970s. The film has an impressive beginning: visitors of the Whitney Museum in New York are asked to name three female artists. They can only think of Frida Kahlo. The movie continues and a long impressive list of female artists comes along. Artists such as Judy Chicago, Nancy Spero, Howardena Pindell and Judith Baca, names I have never heard of; names that young artist and art student Janine Antoni has never heard of and names that – in literature – seem unfindable in the libraries of America. The three words that describe the feminist art movement are still relevant today: Women Art Revolution.


Bianca Stigter, Marjan Schwegman and Pieter Paul Pothoven present their work on the 6th of May. Bianca Stigter is former editor of the Dutch national newspaper NRC Handelsblad and one of the foremost cultural critics and historical writers in the Netherlands. Later this year, she will release the revised and richly illustrated edition ‘Atlas van een bezette stad’ (Atlas of an Occupied City). Stigter presents an impressive list of female resistance fighters like Frieda Belinfante, Rosa Boekdrukker, Marie Tellegen and Gesina van der Meulen. She also shows that many of these female heroes were related to each other, and part of the Amsterdam elite. Next is Marjan Schwegman, professor in Politics and Culture at the faculty of Humanities at Utrecht University. From 2007 to 2016 she was the managing director of NIOD (Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies). In her presentation she explains how the women Stigter talked about, became invisible. These women became partially invisible because historians often defined resistance on the basis of hard, ‘masculine’ characteristics. In the work of Loe de Jong, women are virtually absent because, as a typical man of his time, he does not include how the people in hiding were taken care of.

The role of women, who appear in the Dutch history of the resistance, is mostly described as supporting in the form of a courier. The role as courier became the focusing-point, though at the same time, Jacoba van Tongeren for instance, was not only a courier but also had a leading role in the famous group 2000.

Schwegman is interested in the dilemma of using violence, especially because religion was very important in people’s lives at the time.

Multimedia artist Pieter Paul Pothoven researches Amsterdam based socialist resistance groups, like RARA and CS6 before, during and after the war, in which both men and women played active roles. He is also interested in the dilemma of using violence: how can this history be presented without falling into nostalgia and glorification of violence? He states that it all depends on your view on life: are you already seeing violence all around you? And what does the term violence mean? Some people see the exclusion of refugees as violent.

In the round table discussion afterwards, Pothoven states that the mainstream historiography is very patriarchal. He tries to put himself in the role of a young girl: what history books could I read in which I recognize myself? A member of the audience asks what it means that Pothoven, again as a man, is writing down this history of women. But why should men always account for this? Asks Schwegman: “I have written about men and I have never had this question.”


The third and last day of talks has a very different feeling than the day before: more personal and vulnerable, and this is mainly because the speakers tend to put themselves into the position of someone else. What the speakers have in common is their struggle with the theme “truth”.

Aya Johanna Daniëlle Dürst Britt holds an MFA from Leiden Unicersity in Islamic studies. She is an editor of the online, which publishes articles in Dutch and English about art, culture and society in relation to Islam. In Leiden she studied the life and work of Hasrad Inayat Khan, the founder of the Universal Sufism, and father of Noor Inayat Khan: resistance fighter and first female radio operator to be sent from Britain into occupied France to aid the French Resistance. Apart from an impressive ancestry, with royals and a long line of mystics and musicians, she also grew up hearing Dutch, as her father’s organisation would develop into the universal Sufi Movement in the West. It has a significant branch in the Netherlands, especially in the city of The Hague. Noor Inayat Khan built up a resistance group, but was betrayed by a jealous woman. This lead to her being imprisoned for several years, and eventually, a death sentence. Her last word, before her execution, was: ‘Liberté!’. This could be interpreted in the spiritual sense she grew up with: spiritual freedom. Britt asks herself the question: “What would I do? I am like her, I love music, art, and mysticism. Would I sacrifice myself?”

Ronit Porat works with photographic materials and combines them with biographical texts and materials from archives. She was born in a Kibbutz in the north of Israel, where history played an essential role in the formation of both personal and national narratives. When she finds a story that touches her in a way, she adds a layer of imagination and very often an autobiographical layer. She states that she is not very interested in the “truth”, because there is no such thing as truth. She really enjoys spending time in archives but finds it difficult to get access. Later in the round table discussion an audience member presses the fact that archives are constructed, and that fiction and history cannot be separated.

Annet Mooij, researcher and writer working on a biography of Gisèle recognizes this. Histories are stories, filled with affection and emotions. This makes writing the life story of Gisèle so very difficult. “My task is to add some meaning, logic or even a question mark to the stories. The story behind the story is impossible to find.”

Of course the weekend is about the Female Perspective, but Gisèle herself really struggled with the term femininity. In the period of her resistance in the war, she was responsible for the money, in that way she wasn’t ‘female’ at all! Later, one of the hiders accused her of being too masculine: “You made use of my male part, now you accuse me of being too masculine!?” In a letter to her husband, mayor Arnold d’Ailly, she even writes that she hates being a woman. Besides, Gisèle never focused on herself as a ‘female artist’. In that perspective it’s even more interesting that a weekend like this is, which is focussing exactly on the female aspect of artists and resistance fighters, is being organised in her former studio. What would she think of that?


Remembering is the only repetition. Remembering is the only confusion. No matter how complicated anything is, if it is not mixed up with remembering, there is no confusion. (Insistence, Andrea Greyer)

This quote of the screened movie sums up this artist weekend for me. I ended up having more questions after the weekend than I had before. What is resistance? What does female resistance mean? What is truth?

Reasonable Doubt – Mieke Bal


Reasonable Doubt by Mieke BalReasonable Doubt_Mieke Bal 18 maart 2017 Photo by Przemo Wojciechowski

Opening Saturday March, 18th at 17 hrs

Reasonable Doubt (2016), the latest film project by cultural theorist and critic Mieke Bal, is an experiment to audio-visualise ‘thought’. Mixing docu-drama with theoretical fiction, the project stages scenes from the lives of philosopher René Descartes (1596-1650) and the Swedish Queen Kristina (1626-1689).

Reasonable Doubt is on show till 13 April 2017, open Tuesday till Friday 12 – 18 hrs.

Thursday 13 april, exhibition is closed at 15:30 hrs

Artist Talk: Mieke Bal on Reasonable Doubt 

On March 30, Mieke Bal will talk about ‘thinking in film’: an experiment to audio-visualise thought. In accordance with her concept of ‘thinking as a social process’, this talk will not be like lecturing ‘at’ people, but sharing the excitement of discovering how things work.  RSVP

read here the review by Jeroen Lutters published in MetropolisM: “Hommage aan Mieke Bal”



About Memory Machine

Memory Machine is the contemporary cultural programme of Castrum Peregrini. It includes exhibitions, lectures, debates, performances & publications on cultural memory & identity. The programme is realised together with many partners from Amsterdam and abroad. It explores how memory works, private memory and collective memory, and how the two are interrelated. How does memory shape and constitute our culture and our identity? What mechanisms are there to construct and deconstruct, use and abuse collective memory and identity?

mm_about-1The history of Castrum Peregrini as a hiding place during World War II and it’s reality since were defined by freedom, friendship and culture. Back then it was a safe house for youngsters that found shelter in a group of friends, constructing a shield of poetry and art that protected them. Gisèle, who organised the shelter and founded Castrum Peregrini, was herself an artist. The house of Castrum Peregrini is her visual diary. To the current generation taking care of this place it is obvious that the war in Europe may be over but that culture and the human must nonetheless be defended. That is why Castrum Peregrini sees memory not as static and dead, but as a living and volatile matter that needs constant exploration.

mm_about-2The Memory Machine is fuelled by the discussions and outcomes of Intellectual Playground, the think tank of Castrum Peregrini.

The Memory Machine programme is made possible with the generous support of Mondrian Fund, Amsterdams and Fonds voor de Kunst, e.a.


Please find here an overview of activities since 2011.



Het Kunsttarot – De kaarten van Gisèle is zowel spel als archief, zowel instrument als portret. Het is een innovatieve vorm van erfgoed documentatie en een persoonlijke puzzel die steeds opnieuw kan worden gelegd. Het Kunsttarot – De kaarten van Gisèle verschijnt in een beperkte oplage en is te koop voor € 16,95 per stuk en te bestellen met een email naar

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