[Online Event Series]: All the Missing Limbs of a Pre/oposition, March 15, 2022

All the Missing Limbs of a Pre/oposition is a series of non-thematic events on Zoom that discursify the inextricability of ‘prepositions’ and propositions in/from/with each other, on the one hand; and that ‘coincide’ positions that can uphold different ethical imaginations and action, on the other.

The series is part of the publication program Coincidences in Prepositions initiated by Renan Laru-an & titre provisoire (Cathleen Schuster/Marcel Dickhage) and will be hosted by the Philippine Contemporary Art Network.


March 15, 2022

Christoph Balzar
Abdul Nazir bin Harith Fadzillah
Zikri Rahman
Moderation: Renan Laru-an

Christoph Balzar: Shifting Discourse

Since the 1970s, German museums with so-called ethnographic collections have successfully defied anti-colonial and institutional critique. Whenever demands for the return of colonial loot gain momentum, they react with sophisticated public relations strategies. To keep their ethnographic collections out of their critics’ grasp, they keep shifting the discourse by relabelling their collections: first as a “world heritage”, then as a “shared heritage”, more recently as “works of art”, to name just a few examples of their vocabulary. The word “loot”, though, is suppressed at all costs. This basic marketing strategy effectively delays the inevitable moral bankruptcy of the ethnographic museum as an agency of colonialism: As long as there is debate, they can publicly justify their continuation. In return, even known rightful owners who demand restitution are still waiting for justice. What does this history of public relations strategies tell about the museums’ official promises of decolonisation? And how does it relate to their institutionalised whiteness?

Christoph Balzar is a curator and art historian.


Abdul Nazir bin Harith Fadzillah: Resurrecting the Dead: The practice of decolonisation by Akademi Jawi

When the Roman script replaced the Arabic script for Malay language (Jawi language) in everyday and official usage in the late 1960s it cemented a change in the mode of thought and identity. Such a step was taken by the state to fully embrace modernity and to accommodate the birth of a new nation. However, it cut off a massive reservoir of knowledge and local experiences from the later generation. Under this historical backdrop, Akademi Jawi established itself in 2011 as a publishing and research company aimed to revive the Jawi language through the medium of education, publication and research. They have worked on several notable projects to bring the works in Jawi language to the masses. Based on their body of work thus far, conversations with the founder, and the contemporary social environment — especially in the publication industry and higher learning institutions — we believe Akademi Jawi is working on a decolonising project through a two-pronged approach. The first is by revitalising an area of studies that has been neglected by modern academic institutions in Malaysia. This would eventually open up resources to help equip researchers with indigenous knowledge that could be an alternative to  the pervasive colonial worldview. The second is mass education of Jawi language by systematising and reorganising the syllabus to equip lay people with the tools to access works in Jawi language.

Abdul Nazir bin Harith Fadzillah is an editor and bookseller.


Zikri Rahman: Illegalities of Space and Bodies: Exploring Emancipatory Pedagogy of Sekolah Alternatif

Since 2016, Sekolah Alternatif (translated to English as Alternative School. Henceforth SA) which is organized by Borneo Komrad, a cultural and educational network based in Sabah has been advocating for cultural and educational access for the stateless community, particularly among the Bajau Laut and Sulu ethnic. SA’s philosophy for “education for all” is a brazen move in pushing for emancipatory education. Relying on field notes and ongoing conversation-reflection with the SA’s organizer, I am interested to dissect multiple perspectives on how SA is responding to the notion of illegalities; be it physical or abstract, in exploring their modes of educational pedagogy for social change.

By looking at the dense network of SA’s students-teachers-participants within illegal spaces: deemed as squatters and operating ‘illegal school’ by the power that be, and collaborating with illegal bodies: stateless and undocumented community, it will provide insights and interactions in introducing emerging praxis of educational pedagogy. Here, the praxis might be reflected and refined via diverse cultural and dialogue which served as the frameworks of alternative educational pedagogy. Last but not least, the active transgression of such illegalities: within the spaces and bodies then serves as a contentious site where subjectivities and identities are recognized and reconfigured for advancing and fulfilling the emancipatory possibilities of learning.

Zikri Rahman is a writer and cultural worker.

More information about the overall project Coincidences in Prepositions here.

The project is realized in partnership with the Harun Farocki Institut, Philippine Contemporary Art Network (PCAN), and the UP Vargas Museum. Supported by Goethe-Institut.

March 10th, 2022 — Projects / Event

The Reconstruction of Ukraine. Ruination / Representation / Solidarity, online symposium, September 9-11, 2022. “The Reconstruction of Ukraine: Ruination / Representation / Solidarity” devotes particular attention to cities, architecture, art, culture and psychological trauma – but the scope of the conversations it aims to start is broader. In due course, the discussions held during the symposium may coalesce into myriad projects, initiatives and experiments undertaken by government institutions, municipalities, educational and cultural bodies and other more interstitial actors. The ambition of this symposium is to establish a platform for dialogue, facilitating communication, collaboration and constructive argument between diverse actors and initiatives.

George Edwards (Zetkin Collective) on war, nationalism and the “anti-climate lobby” (via Arts of the Working Class): “The latest prognosis of this particular war was spelt out in a flurry of reports from the IPCC; the most recent, described as ‘an atlas of human suffering’ by the chief of the UN, demanded ‘rapid, deep and immediate’ emissions cuts in all sectors to ensure an inhabitable planet for all. In step with the science, many wish this conflict to mark the beginning of an intensified programme of decarbonization, ridding economies of not only Russian, but all fossil fuels, wherever their geological source. But whilst political leaders scramble abroad to secure new sources of fossil fuels – sweet-talking sheiks and summoning LNG terminals from the ground – a resourceful and committed cohort, let’s call them the anti-climate lobby, refuse to accept this diagnosis. The partakers in the fossil industry have seized upon this crisis, sensing it as an opportunity to enlarge and entrench economic interests rooted in fossil fuels. As the course of action prescribed by the IPCC imperils this line of business, the attempts to secure fresh investments in fossil fuel infrastructures, to lock-in production and secure profits for the coming decades may feel all the more pressing. The solutions they pose also fit within the national frame and it is with nationalist political forces that they find their most ardent allies.”

July 31st, 2022

The fundamental difference that we face in Europe at the moment between the Western approach characterized by the pursuit of peace and the Eastern one focused on liberation and independence poses a dramatic challenge – in order to survive and progress, democracy as a political regime has to be capable of defending itself also in a military way.” Armed Democracy revolves around the concepts of imperialism, liberation, fascism, autocracy, revolution, and militarization in pursuit of the world to come on Europe’s burnt out land. Conceived by the Kyiv Biennial and Biennale Warszawa from the East Europe Biennial Alliance, this special public program, curated by Vasyl Cherepanyn within the 2nd edition of Biennale Warszawa, the program is a first part of the series organized by the East Europe Biennial Alliance discussing Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine and taking place in Warsaw, Prague, Kassel, and Riga over the summer and fall of 2022.

Olena Lyubchenko on Whiteness, Expropriation, War, and Social Reproduction in Ukraine (via LeftEast): “[…] when we hear on the news that ‘Ukraine is fighting a European war’ and ‘Ukraine is defending Europe’, amid images of fleeing ‘poor white’ women with children prioritized over racialized ‘Others’, ‘Ukraine’ is being made ‘white’ in the global imaginary. That is, “the injunction to ‘return to Europe’ by way of Europeanization is enabled and conditioned on the mythologies of Western civilization, and that Europeanization at once marks (promulgates) and unmarks (naturalizes) racial whiteness” [Nadezhda Husakouskaya and Randi Gressgård]. The paradox is that Europe’s existence as such has only been possible precisely because of the exploitation of global working peoples through expropriation of resources and today neoliberal economic reforms and reproduced by feminized labour.”

Vasyl Cherepanyn about the “inertness, hiding behind the European Wall” (via L’Internationale): “Many Western institutions that have been claiming ‘radical political engagement’ for years, have simply resorted to a white cube radicalism and self-satisfying humanitarianism, too afraid of acting politically beyond their comfort zone and unsettling their publics and authorities by attempting to affect the decision-making process regarding the Ukrainian cause.”

May 28th, 2022

Tatsiana Shchurko on the War in Ukraine, Entangled Imperialisms, and Transnational Feminist Solidarity, via LeftEast (May 2, 2022): “[An] uneven knowledge production and the many implications of the war against Ukraine reveal the dire need to develop a feminist anti-capitalist critique of multiple imperialisms. This language should grow from within the occupied and suppressed communities of Eastern Europe and Eurasia. An anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist feminist positionality grasps that the local is part of a global in an effort to build transnational connections of mutual aid and support against state and corporate violence. For example, statements of solidarity with Ukraine expressed by the International Committee of Indigenous Peoples of Russia and Native American communities along with the anti-war feminist march in Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan) on March 8, 2022, pointing out that the war in Ukraine should be of concern for a broad transnational community, may serve as instrumental examples of alternative anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist solidarities that stretch beyond state regulations and macro-politics and foreground decolonial perspectives, necessary in addressing entanglements of multiple imperialisms. Such solidarities also bring to light hidden interconnections of the past that allowed for distant communities to survive and support each other against the violence of imperialist intervention and its attendant capitalist exploitation. Thus, the march in Bishkek reminds of the socialist roots of the International Women’s Day to call for internationalist, intersectional, class solidarity against imperialism and militarism.”

Vasyl Cherepanyn on that “It’ll take more than tanks to ease Germany’s guilt” (via Politico): “Since the Soviet Union’s collapse, Germany has been imposing neocolonial optics on its Eastern European ‘peripheries,’ and on the post-Soviet space in particular, where Ukraine was long considered a gray buffer zone about which the EU was ‘deeply concerned.’ Germany didn’t bother itself much with differentiating between former Soviet countries’ pasts. Even until recently, any Ukrainian agenda in Germany was often ‘balanced’ with a Russian perspective, so as to not exclude the latter by any means.”

An unnamed anarchist and art scholar, who joined the Territorial Defense Forces, quoted by Olexii Kuchanskyi in an essay on “Digital Leviathan and His Nuclear Tail” (via Your Art and e-flux notes): “At dawn, Dima and I talked about cinema. Dima believes that cinema is inferior to literature as a means of expression because you spend much more time with a book than a film. It’s a really interesting point, something to dig into. I studied at the department of art theory & history and I never thought of it. Dima served in the military after school and worked at the factory all his life. He listens to rap, smokes pot, and tries to have fun. He is thirty-eight, his child was born last year. He likes Wong Kar-wai and is a fan of Asian cinema in general. Dima communicates by quoting Omar Khayyam, Confucius, and other awesome guys.”

April 20th, 2022
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