TEXT Miguel E. Keerveld, Curator-in-Residence for the project ALAKONDRE: A space in time in collaboration with Readytex Art Gallery (RAG).
I experience INGI STEN (Indigenous voices) as a fascinating event. Among other things, it offers me a solution for the polarization in the current geopolitical climate. That is why I feel that INGI STEN gives a special picture of the future and offers a focus that goes beyond modernity or postmodernity. What an honor that Kurt Nahar and Winston van der Bok († 2021) allow me to join their ‘conversation’ at Readytex Art Gallery (RAG) between April 9 and May 7, 2022. As an in-between space, this manifestation transcends and encompasses opposing worldviews. Especially this focus and the relationships between humans and other-than-humans in INGI STEN intrigue me.
Impressions of installed artworks for INGI STEN at Readytex Art Gallery, 2022
An ayllu relationship
I am attuned to INGI STEN. In this mode, I am convinced that this event appears as ayllu relationship. According to Marisol de la Cadena (2015), ayllu is “a group of humans and non-humans who interact through kinship ties and together inhabit a territory that they also own”. It is, in fact, a traditional form of society. Like alakondre-fasi, the ayllu relationship is the representation of all-encompassing spatiality consisting of natural and cultural phenomena. These models have a ‘social-natural collective’ framework. It should be noted that a person involved in such perceptual experiences loses himself and becomes pure, willless, painless, timeless appearance of knowledge (Lang, 1999). In these systems, networks encompassing humanity and everything beyond can be compared to “the ability that specific non-human personalities generate in a person so that he or she can form an effective relationship with them” (De la Cadena, 2015). What impresses me in INGI STEN, as well as in the complexity of ayllu, is the depth of meaning and symbolism on the one hand. On the other hand, it is their ‘representation’ through things like art that create magical experiences (Kuhn, R., 2021). In this sense, I see the installation of musical instruments, the depiction of animals in artwork, and the use of colors as vehicles that enable one’s deportation to other realms of consciousness.
Art depicts deeper layers of existence. In this way INGI STEN offers us the time and space for reflection. By carefully selecting objects and subject matters in this creative space, the object-meaning correlation can show us our spiritual capacity. According to Alva Nöe (quoted in Faria, 2018): “Art is not fabrication. Art is not an achievement. Art is not entertainment. Art is not beauty. Art is not fun. Art is not participation in the art world. And art is certainly not commerce. Art is philosophy. Art shows our true nature to ourselves. Because it is necessary. Art is writing ourselves.” I see manifestation of magic. But how does INGI STEN manage to transfer that magic to the conscious so that we can see beyond the materialization of things?
INGI STEN propagates metamodernism. According to Wikipedia, metamodernism is “mediation between aspects of modernism and postmodernism”. This also suggests integration of those sensibilities with pre-modern (Indigenous and traditional) cultural codes. According to The Living Philosophy (2022), metamodernity is a critical synthesis for an age of complexity. Being familiar with Kurt Nahar’s critical artwork, in which he often draws on Indo- and Afro-Caribbean knowledge and belief systems, among other things, I find another fascinating context in launching his curatorial assignment for the project ALAKONDRE: A Space in Time. Kurt takes me into the intricate worldview of a carefully planned and curated ayllu manifestation. That is why I believe that his choice of Winston van der Bok as local master for the first of three exhibitions in a row has a spiritual purpose. To pay tribute to alternative conversations in relation to the meta-crisis that exists today, Kurt is showing various artworks and unique art installations in INGI STEN. In these pursuits, he highlights indigenous spirits and “harnesses the creativity of visual artists of diverse origins and backgrounds” while giving these spirits a platform and a voice; “a voice that is not listened to enough, then and now” (RAG, 2022). Has Kurt found a way through art in which he can transform his subconscious into consciousness? For such an event appears to most people at the subconscious level, making it not a verbal expression. It’s a appeal.
For Emmanuel Levinas (cited in Keij, 2021), the appeal is an unconscious impact on the self. He argues that something or someone in connection with an Other has the capacity to notice that something curious arises: an ‘ethical sensitivity’ as he also calls the appeal. Here an Other is basically everything. A fellow. The car with which someone becomes a unit once the person drives without thinking and in full autopilot mode. Or the group of which an individual is part. Through the presence of an Other, manifestation of the “ethical sensibility” takes place. Thus the ‘ethical sensibility’, operating under the radar of consciousness, becomes an awakening of the appeal and possibly transformed into ‘conscious involvement’. According to Levinas, “magic happens when encountering the Other” (Arquetopia, 2019). A metaphor for knowledge and consciousness that arises in the entanglement of Self and Other. That is why it is necessary to consciously ‘enter into dialogue’ with INGI STEN. In other words, to communicate heart to heart (AICOS, 2015). In this sense, Kurt brings to our attention metamodernity as a response in an increasingly fractured and complex growing world.
Kurt created fascinating installations with attributes from Van der Bok’s house. To let the spirits speak through INGI STEN, he installed a sambura that could also welcome the spectators. Kurt was sure that “especially the sambura and the spirit of Winston van der Bok speak loud and clear”, by bringing together voices of the Indigenous ancestors in artworks that were performed as a shamanic practice in this show.
There are other artists whose artworks are included in INGI STEN. These are John Lie A Fo, Kenneth Flijders, Leonnie van Eert, Orpheo Robert, Pierre Bong A Jan, Rinaldo Klas, Shaundell Horton and Sri Irodikromo. What concerns me most about this is my question whether the viewer should know titles of the art on display. Or should one just wander through space? As a spectator, I have chosen to be guided by the magic that appears in dialogue with the images, while closely following my imagination. For example, I came across the installation with works by Kenneth Flijders and Winston van der Bok. In this encounter, two prints by Kenneth Flijders (Lagadisa 1 & Lagadisa 2, relief print on paper, 22x63cm, 2008, both depicting a lizard) and a painting by Winston van der Bok with two semi-abstract figures remind me of my trip to Mexico and Peru in 2017. Therefore, the time I allow myself to absorb the exhibition reveals a magical space, as I learn during reflection and research in Mexico. And in the fraction of this experience, I have been brought back to my experience with ayahuasca… To what I call the childlike encounter, from which I can conclude that these installations offer me a fascinating space in the time when Van der Bok appears in my consciousness. In this way, his involvement in the moment allows him to curate my experience with INGI STEN.
Creativity comes from unconscious and conscious action. In short: something that happens to someone and the action that person takes in situations into which he/she is thrown, because being creative is an interaction between coincidence and action (Broekhoven, 2021). Referring to Plucker, Beghetto & Dow (2004), Broekhoven (2021) argues that a creative product, material or immaterial, consists of interaction. Something new and something useful. I can conclude without any doubt that Kurt Nahar has met these criteria very well due to his curatorial expertise in this event.
- Academie voor Intuïtieve Coaching & Ontwikkeling Suriname (AICOS). Handleiding Beroepsopleiding Intuïtief Coachen, 2015
- Arquetopia Foundation for Development, (2019, 3 juni – 15 juli) [Gesprek]
- Broekhoven, K. van, (2021, 19 mei). Radboud Reflects | De creatieve mens [Videofile] opgehaald van https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RK9K0pnWzb0&t=501s
- De la Cadena, M., Earth Beings: Ecologies of Practices across Andean Worlds, Duke University Press,2015
- Faria, B., REVIEW: Strange tools: Art and human nature by A Noe, 2018
- Freinacht, H., (2022, 23 januari). The Living Philosophy | What is Metomodernism? [Videofile] opgehaald van https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kl0caFRFoms
- Keij, J., Tijd als kwetsbaarheid in de filosofie van Levinas, 2021
- Kuhn, R., (2021, 27 oktober). Closer To Truth | Episode 2002 [Videofile]. Opgehaald van https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cw5o-P5B68g&list=RDLVoY5flAo6TrM&index=3
- Lang, K., Reason and Remainders: Kantian performativity in the history of art, 1999
- Maesen, R. van der, Terugkeer van de ziel; naar een vierdimensionaal mensbeeld, 2010
- Readytex Art Gallery, Persbericht expositie INGI STEN, 2022
- Plucker, J., Beghetto, R., & Dow, G., ‘Why isn’t creativity more important to educational psychologists? Potentials, pitfalls, and future directions in creativity research’, in: Educational Psychologist, 39, 2004, 83-96
This publication was made possible in part by a grant from the Dr. Silvia W. de Groot Fund.
Read more about the Dr. Silvia W. de Groot Fund here (only in Dutch).
Read more about Dr. Silvia W. de Groot here (only in Dutch).
TEXT Miguel E. Keerveld
Miguel E. Keerveld (Suriname, 1982) works in conjunction with the brand EdKe and the performance persona tumpi flow. Educated in civil technical engineering, ‘he’ operates with focus on visual language and creative writing. As a hybrid-intuitive concept, ‘she’ performs political interventions related to social practice. As researcher ‘it’ is focused on activating performative politics and manifesting rituals, both related to creative counseling and civic engineering of a cyborg feminist project.
PHOTOS Courtesy Readytex Art Gallery (RAG)