Contour Biennale 9: Coltan as Cotton
Various Venues, Mechelen, Belgium11 Jan 2019 - 20 Oct 2019
Contour Biennale is one of the most recognizable, large-scale exhibition platforms in Belgium: a unique initiative engaging with local and international artists who focus on the moving image and its wider representation in installations, sound and performance. The 9th edition of Contour will take on a new form.
The projects presented during Contour Biennale 9: Coltan as Cotton are inspired by and relate to the city of Mechelen, its inhabitants and, more broadly, Belgium’s recent colonial history and its continuation today. Besides this, more general questions are posed about how to situate a biennial, whom it addresses and whether we can find more sustainable ways to work on a biennial. Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez has designed this edition in phases: a continuum of projects in various formats that will be organised over the course of one year, in contrast to earlier editions when the biennial ran for 10 weeks. Between January 2019 and October 2019, three major public presentations aligned to various Moon phases and several other events will shape the biennial.
The title of the biennial is borrowed from the poem “The Bear/Coltan as Cotton” by the slammer, musician and poet Saul Williams. More than 80% of global extraction of coltan, one of the major conflict minerals, comes from Congo and Rwanda. In the great majority of mines, the conditions of its extraction are not controlled by any governmental agency and it is known that child labour is often involved. Coltan is an irreplaceable component in nearly every cell phone, laptop, and electronic device, thus contributing to the Global North and Global South’s access to connection.
Artists contribute with newly commissioned films, installations, participatory projects and performances that explore entanglements between the decolonization of structures, mind and history in Belgium, and that affirm the need for practices of degrowth and solidarity to be intertwined more profoundly with contemporary artistic practices. Many of the works will be made collectively with residents and organisations in and around Mechelen. During the three phases there will also be a programme of discussions and workshops led by the artists and invited contributors.
Artists and collectives: Amandine Gay, Bie Michels, Black Speaks Back, Black(s) to the Future, Cadine Navarro, Call it Anything, Christian Nyampeta, Coyote, Daniela Ortiz, Emmanuel Owusu-Bonsu, Fallon Mayanja, Greyzone Zebra, Hikaru Fujii, Jelena Jureša, Laura Nsengiyumva, Léopold Lambert, Maria Lucia Cruz Correia, Mark Požlep, Monique Mbeka Phoba, Natascha Sadr Haghighian & Ashkan Sepahvand, On-Trade-Off (Picha & Enough Room for Space), Raphaël Grisey & Bouba Touré, Robin Vanbesien, Saddie Choua, Samira Saleh, Sara Sejin Chang (Sara van der Heide), The Black Archives & Raul Balai, The Writer’s Bench
Curator: Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez
Contour Biennale 9: Coltan as Cotton will be held on January 11–13, May 17–19 and October 18–20, 2019.
Contour Biennale 9 has also initiated the cross-disciplinary alliance “We Cannot Work Like This: Decolonial Practices and Degrowth”. It brings together several departments of art, architecture, design schools and universities in Belgium, France, England and Hong Kong, and enables students to work together on a proposal for sustainable, decolonial, anti-racist and inclusive practices in relation to cultural institutions on the one hand and their own professions on the other.
The members of the Transnational Alliance are teachers and students from HISK (Ghent), Department of Architecture, Hong Kong University (Hong Kong), St. Lucas School of Arts (Antwerp), School of Architecture at the Royal College of Art (London), Royal Academy of Fine Arts (Antwerp), Thomas More University (Mechelen), Ecole de recherche graphique (Brussels), Ecole européenne supérieure d’art de Bretagne (Rennes), Open Design for Refugees and Asylum Seekers at KASK (Ghent).