SPEME in Amsterdam, 1 – 31 May 2023

Start date: 01/05/2023

End date: 31/05/2023

Location: Amsterdam

In the frame of the European Union’s Horizon 2020, SPEME – Questioning Traumatic Heritage: Spaces of Memory in Europe, Argentina, Colombia, develops a joint program of 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. This May 2023, H401 will kick start the SPEME secondment in Amsterdam in close collaboration with our partners, Arti et Amicitiae and the Amsterdam School for Heritage, Memory and Material Culture.


Scroll down to have a look at our planned activities.

Please note that the events are free, however their capacity is limited – only via RSVP.

If you wish to participate, please send an email to Micol Manunta (m.manunta@h401.org) mentioning your name + number of people + preferred day + time.


Guston Sondin-Kung (DK) – A Microscopic Burial  (H401)

Performance, (30 min) on Monday 8 and Tuesday 9 May

Guston Sondin-Kung is an artist, filmmaker and writer. His work focuses on memory and the body
investigated through situated knowledge, decoloniality and feminist new materialism. His artistic projects typically involve long term collaborative research that necessitates working across a multitude of disciplinary and discursive sites. He received a BFA from the California Institute of the Arts and a PhD from the University of Copenhagen.

His work has been exhibited, screened and printed internationally at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, MOCA Geffen Contemporary, Center for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Selasar Sunaryo Art Space, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Jeju National Museum, MASS Alexandria, Art Sonje Center, Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Les Rencontres Internationales, Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, The 38th International Festival of New Latin American Cinema, Taiwan International Documentary Film Festival, XIX ÍCARO, Festival Internacional de Cine, DOXA Film Festival and Videonalle 13.


About his contribution:

In 2019 a funeral took place in Berlin for the recently discovered microscopic remains of 300 political
prisoners executed by the Nazi’s during World War II. Taking outset in this event, the audio performance The Microscopic Burial examines how the work of mourning can be composed and redistributed as a collective act that bonds through shared affinities. In the performance, oral storytelling is employed as a multi-sited mnemonic device. Additionally, it draws upon field recordings of the funeral, historical audio archives, essayistic spoken word compositions and spatialized resonant audio to produce a gathering of sounds that continue the work of mourning.

Surrounded by this sympathetic sonic resonance, the participants are taken on a journey from the past to the present, from the inside to the outside, from collective electrical impulses to the bodies that make them, from the embodied to the disembodied, from the human cell to the call of a bird, from a religious prayer to a field of political affinities, from the atmosphere of the everyday to how our bodies compensate for spatialized sonic vibrations.

Free entrance on:

  • Monday, May 8th at 3 pm and at 4 pm
  • Tuesday, May 9th at 4 pm, at 5 pm and at 6 pm.  

Guy Königstein (NL/ISR) – Hundred Years (H401) 

Workshop, (50 min) Monday 8 May, 5pm

Guy Königstein is an artist of Israeli origin, living in the Netherlands since 2007. He studied at the Design Academy Eindhoven and obtained a master degree in applied arts from the Sandberg Institute Amsterdam. Excavating through time and space, he uses image, material, form and story as means of unpacking entanglements, performing otherness and appreciating mixed feelings. 


About his contribution:

Provided with a stencil, old objects, spray paint and a blank sheet of paper, participants are invited to create a commemorative poster in memory of an imagined future event. Which two-dimensional motives would emerge out of the three-dimensional objects, and what can they symbolise? How are we to remember, that which had not yet taken place?


Photo credit: Björn Adriansson.


Monday 8 May 2023 (8:30 pm) | Opening of the Exhibition Encountering Absence  at Arti and Amicitiae

20:30 – 20:45: Welcome by Arti & the curators

20:45 Film screening (Solitude/Refugeedom, Mieke Bal)

21:30: Drinks


Verzetsmuseum in Amsterdam

Guided visit (90 mins) on Thursday 11 May, 10:30 am

Join the H401 and SPEME teams on a visit to the Verzetsmuseum to explore the Dutch resistance to the Nazi occupation in The Netherlands during World War II.

The group will be led by Dr. Mario Panico, postdoctoral fellow at the Amsterdam School of Heritage, Memory and Material Culture (AHM).

*Please note that participants joining this visit will pay for their own entrance ticket. Consult the Verzetsmuseum website for admission discounts.

Meeting point: Verzetsmuseum, Amsterdam  


Betsy Torenbos (NL) – Gisèle, een hommage (H401)

Movie Screening and plenary discussion (90 mins) on Sunday 14 May, 3 pm

Dancer, choreographer, theatre maker and filmer Betsy Torenbos is a Dutch artist. Her works are interdisciplinary and she has worked in many countries abroad. Oral history is often the base of a work of art. She developed films and choreographies on music of composer Louis Andriessen. Especially ‘De Tijd’ (‘Time’) is her favorite.


About her contribution: 

With Gisèle, een hommage, the filmer, theatre maker and dancer Betsy Torenbos creates a personal and
intimate tribute to the Dutch artist Gisèle van Waterschoot van der Gracht. Betsy’s artistic view was combined with the music of composer Louis Andriessen, which he especially wrote and played for this film after his visit to the House of Gisèle. 

Thanks to their cooperation, the audience discovers Gisèle’s life (1912-2013) through conversations, works of art and evocative objects belonging to the artist. This art movie represents not only a memory to Gisèle but also to Louis Andriessen, who sadly passed away in the summer of 2021.

You can find the preview of the kunstfilm Gisèle, een hommage here.


Sebastián Díaz Morales (AR) – Pasajes VI (H401)

Introduction by Prof. Dr.  Ernst van Alphen and movie screening followed by a plenary discussion (75 min) on Sunday 14 May, 4:30 pm

Sebastián Díaz Morales was born in Comodoro Rivadavia, Argentina, in 1975 and lives and works in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. He attended the Universidad del Cine de Antin in Argentina from 1993-1999, the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam from 2000-2001, and Le Fresnoy, Roubaix, France from 2003-2004. Diaz Morales’s conception of reality has been shaped by the living conditions and landscape of his birthplace, Comodoro Rivadivia, an industrial city located on the Atlantic coast, in a rugged area between the Atlantic Ocean and the Patagonian Desert in southern Argentina. His questioning of reality in film, whether concerning landscape, the urban, or even the sociopolitical, has been marked from the very outset by a fundamental distrust of the belief in a single, unified reality. With Díaz Morales, the camera does not function as a medium for faithfully depicting and recording what is observed, but is an essential, even epistemic means for questioning and appropriating reality.


About his contribution:

Premièred in June 2022 at Gallery Carlier Gebauer in Madrid, Díaz Morales’s Pasajes (I-VI) series presents
life scenarios in which space and time acquire new layers of reality and illusion. In particular, Pasajes VI provides a unique insight into Herengracht 401. Following Sebastián’s gaze through the maze of doors and corridors, the audience has the chance to immerse themselves in the multilayered building of H401.

In relation to Pasajes VI, curator and art theorist David Komary points out that “individual shots reveal signifiers of another time or times, such as archive boxes stored in the basement, or the fading in of music clearly alluding to a different era than visually portrayed”. The reality of space and time changes shape throughout the movie, leaving the spectator both amazed by and curious about the perception of H401.


Monday 15 May 2023 (4 pm) | Opening Artspace in the frame of Encountering Absence and Artist talk at Arti et Amicitiae


16:00 – 17:00: Opening Artspace and Artist talk

 17:00 – 18:00: Screening Indo’s Silence & Drinks



Series of Lectures Tuesday 16th May 2023 | 5:30 pm, 90 minutes (H401)

Elizaveta Gaufman (RS/FR/NL) – Weaponizing femininity: gendered discourse in Russian foreign policy 

Lecture and plenary discussion on Tuesday 16 May, 5:30 pm

Lisa Gaufman is Assistant Professor of Russian Discourse and Politics in the Department of European
Languages and Cultures at the University of Groningen. She is the author of Security Threats and Public Perception: Digital Russia and the Ukraine Crisis (Palgrave, 2017) and Everyday Foreign Policy: Performing and Consuming the Russian Nation after Crimea (Manchester University Press, 2023).

About her contribution:

Feminization rhetoric is a staple in foreign policy discourse. In order to assert their dominance, state leaders often try to project masculinity and diminish femininity. In this presentation, she shows how the discourse of femininity was weaponized by the Russian government in order to legitimize the current invasion of Ukraine.


Ksenia Robbe – Remembering Crises: Towards Critical Memory Studies of ‘Transition’ and Decolonization 

Lecture and plenary discussion on Tuesday 16 May, 6 pm

Ksenia Robbe is a Senior lecturer in European Culture and Literature at the University of Groningen. She works at the interfaces of postcolonial and postsocialist, memory and time, and gender and feminist studies. She is the author of Conversations of Motherhood: South African Women’s Writing Across Traditions (University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 2015) and (co-)editor of Remembering Transitions: Local Revisions and Global Crossings in Culture and Media (De Gruyter, 2023), (Un)timely Crises: Chronotopes and Critique (Palgrave, 2021), and Post-Soviet Nostalgia: Confronting the Empire’s Legacies (Routledge,  2019). This academic year, she is a resident fellow at the Netherlands Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) in Amsterdam, working on the project “Other Transitions: Remembering the 1980-90s Crises and Reimagining Sociality in South Africa and Russia”. She is also leading a collaborative project “Reconstituting Publics through Remembering Transitions” supported by the NETIAS CAT programme.  

About her contribution:

In this talk, I turn to the events of the so-called ‘transitions’ that took places across Eastern Europe, Eurasia and the Global South and inaugurated the end of the Cold War, and the memory of these periods. During the past decades, memories of these times of attempted decolonization have been instrumentalized within both progressivist and dystopian narratives. Against this background and with the focus on memory dynamics in post-Soviet Russia and post-apartheid South Africa, I will, first, explain the importance of engaging with ‘transitions’ from perspectives of memory and post/de/colonial studies. As a second step, drawing on examples from contemporary South African and Russian literature/film, I will propose the notion of ‘remembering crises’ as a critical memory template for making sense of transitions in the present.


Ronit Eden (ISR/NL) – Art as an Agent of Memory (H401)

Conversation (90 mins) on Wednesday 17 May, 5 pm

Ronit Eden is an independent curator living and working in Amsterdam. She holds a degree in design and architecture. As of the last fifteen years, she has been curating and producing exhibitions about
contemporary art in and around the Netherlands.

She is especially interested in art that incorporates historical and cultural events that shape political identity. She also curates exhibitions that integrate discussions on the museum’s role in preserving memory; exhibitions that question the museum’s role in creating personal identity and community affiliation.

In addition, she prepared and guided research trips into the art scene of Israel/Palestinian society with more than 65 professionals from the Dutch art scene.

About her contribution:

Ronit Eden will guide us through a conversation about three in situ interventions realised with contemporary artists in different places across the Netherlands.

Photo: Cris van Houts. Artist: Amos van Gelder. Curator: Ronit Eden. Wasserette (Laundry), Groningen Synagogue, Groningen, 2015


National Monument – Camp Amersfoort

Guided visit (90 mins) on Thursday 18 May, 10 am

Join the H401 and SPEME teams on a visit to Camp Amersfoort, one of three concentration camps located in The Netherlands. This specific transit camp is located in between the city of Amsersfoort and Leusden.

Once again, the group will be led by Dr. Mario Panico, postdoctoral fellow at the Amsterdam School of Heritage, Memory and Material Culture (AHM).

*Please note that participants joining this visit will pay for their own entrance ticket, as well as for the transport to Amersfoort. Consult the National Monument Camp Amersfoort for admission discounts. 

Meeting point: main entrance of the train station Amsterdam Centraal. It will take approximately 90 minutes to reach Camp Amersfoort.


Thomas Grant – “No quiero ser un hombre que no llora”: personal testimonies in understanding the contemporary position of Cuban trans men (H401)

Lecture and Conversation, (50 minutes) on Monday 22 May, 5 pm

Thomas is a student of the research master Latin American Studies at the University of Leiden. His research reflects his concerns regarding the bodily autonomy of trans individuals, despathologisation of trans healthcare, and the importance but also the risk of increased visibility. He has previously lived in Chile and written about the plurinational potential of a new constitution to recognise and build upon a divisive history. He now resides in Nijmegen where he concerns himself with the importance of community.

About his contribution:

In this presentation, Thomas will share insights from his recent field research in Cuba, looking at the testimonies of trans men to gain an understanding of how masculinity is understood by this group within their particular socio-historical and economic contexts. Of particular interest are the ways in which the legacy of Che Guevara’s “new man” and the UMAP work camps have impacted the hegemonic standard of masculinity, and if this interpretation is present in how trans men understand their own identity. 


Anna Greszta (PL/UA) – Military Disneyland or The Temple of the Antichrist? (Dis)entanglements of Memory, Conspiracy and Coloniality in the Main Cathedral of the Russian Armed Forces (H401)

Lecture, (50 minutes) on Tuesday 23 May, 5 pm

Anna Greszta is a cultural anthropologist and a PhD researcher at Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis
(ASCA), University of Amsterdam. She currently works in ERC-funded ‘Conspiratorial Memory’ project, focusing on cultural representations of the Russian war in Ukraine. Inspired by and immersed in the cultural analysis and anthropological traditions, the project examines the intersections of memory and conspiracy cultures in the landscape of objects representing the war.

Her previous research experience varies from examining Polish-Jewish relations and the memory of the Holocaust (BA in Ethnography, University of Warsaw, 2013-2016) to visual ethnography of discourses and practices of beauty in Ukraine (MSc in Anthropology, University of Copenhagen, 2017-2020). Anna is an activist and a co-founder of Amsterdam-based Collect4Ukraine volunteer group.

About her contribution:

The Russo-Ukrainian war (2014-present) is as much a military conflict as it is an information war, and its most explosive manifestations pivot on imaginations of memory and conspiracy. Propagandistic Russian media outlets painted the Euromaidan protests as a “USA-led uprising” and an illegitimate installation of a “fascist” or “neo-Nazi regime.” In line with this rhetoric, prevalent stories and images in Russian media and culture have mobilized World War II narratives to present the current war as a “special military operation to de-nazify Ukraine,” a heroic Russian battle against the dangers of Ukrainian “fascism,” activating thus the myth of the Great Patriotic War.

Interested in the intersection of memory, conspiracy and (de)coloniality in cultural objects embedded in (e.g., visual, literary) representations of the Russo-Ukrainian war, in this lecture we will zoom in on one such object – the Main Cathedral of the Russian Armed Forces.

In 2020, the temple was opened on the outskirts of Moscow. Dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War, it is located in the Patriot Park, a place labeled by some media and visitors: “a military Disneyland,” an entertainment-commemorative space dedicated to Russian army and its history. Both in the theme park and its symbolic center – the Cathedral, Russia’s Tsarist and Soviet past are intertwined with Orthodox iconography and references to present events. Some of the mosaics depicting Soviet (and Russian) armies are embellished with the list of commemorated conflicts, among them: “forcing peace on Georgia” or “the return of Crimea.” Other included pictures of Stalin, Vladimir Putin and other high-ranking officials (as of now, removed from display). To some – militaristic entertainment park, to others gloomy “church of war” or, in fact, a “diabolic anti-church,” the Cathedral becomes a good case to (dis)entangle memory, conspiracy and coloniality in cultural representations of the Russo-Ukrainian war.    


Thursday 25 May 2023 (5pm and 8:30pm) | Artists interview & SPEME Panel Encountering Absence at Arti et Amicitiae


UPDATE: 20:30: Closing Event at Arti

CANCELLED 17:00 – 18:00: Artistinterview

CANCELLED 20:30 – 22:30: SPEME Panel ‘Encountering Absence’