It's a Questions of Power, Isn't It?

Abstracting Parables opening weekend programme 1-3 July

Abstracting Parables

It cannot be denied that the History of Modern Art as it has been written has discarded many voices based on their geography, colour, gender, religion, race, abilities and sexuality. Behind the huge concept of universality stands a singular definition of modernism. All the while, modernism knows multiplicity well, a knowledge founded on actual stories of extraction from undesired bodies, cultures and territories where supposedly there was no existence of a legitimate knowledge.

Building in continuation with the exhibition Abdias Nascimento. Imran Mir. Sedje Hémon. Abstracting Parables , a series of talks will bring together artists, friends and companions, curators, caretakers of the estates to deconstruct and complicate the understanding of modernism through the work of Sedje Hémon, Abdias Nascimento and Imran Mir.

Please join us and our guests for the opening programme of Abstracting Parables at Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam on 1, 2 and 3 July!


“wata go leave stone” on Abdias Nascimento
Location: Auditorium, Stedelijk Museum
Time: 5 to 6.30pm
Date: 1 July 2022

Please reserve your spot for this talk via this link. Admission is free and afterwards you can join 'Dwars door het Stedelijk - After Six'. Check for more information. By reserving a place for the talk, you will also be granted free access to visit the exhibition on 1 July 2022.

The title of this conversation comes from Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung’s essay Abdias do Nascimento: Being an Event of Love. In the essay Bonaventure proposes to think of Abdias do Nascimento’s oeuvre and life as a stone that on the one hand represents continuity and the other hand stability. The expression comes from a Cameroonian pidgin sentence which translates as “water flows past the stone and the stone is still there” and is a response to the question: How are you doing?

“wata go leave stone”talks about the powerful and undeniable historical importance of Abdias do Nascimento who contributed to passing ways of being in the world from Africa epistemologies to different generations through multiple artistic forms and to the political and to the liberation of afro descendants especially in Brazil withstanding all the violent currents.

Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung
, PhD (born in 1977 in Yaoundé, Cameroon) is a curator, author and biotechnologist. He is founder and artistic director of SAVVY Contemporary in Berlin and is the artistic director of sonsbeek20–24, a quadrennial contemporary art exhibition in Arnhem, the Netherlands. He is artistic director of the 13th Bamako Encounters 2022, a biennale for African photography in Mali. Ndikung was the curator-at-large for Adam Szymczyk's Documenta 14 in Athens, Greece and Kassel, Germany in 2017; a guest curator of the Dak’Art biennale in Dakar, Senegal in 2018; as well as artistic director of the 12th Bamako Encounters in 2019. Together with the Miracle Workers Collective, he curated the Finland Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2019.He was a recipient of the first OCAD University International Curators Residency fellowship in Toronto in 2020. He is currently a professor in the Spatial Strategies MA program at the Weissensee Academy of Art in Berlin. From 2023 he will take on the role of Director at Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) in Berlin.

Elisa Larkin Nasicmento is a social scientist with a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of São Paulo and graduate degrees in Law and in Social Sciences from the State University of New York. She has authored and edited publications that are references for teaching African and African Brazilian history and culture. As director of IPEAFRO, she coordinates the preparation of Abdias Nascimento’s archives and artistic collections for online consultation and serves as curator of exhibitions and seminars for educators, artists, and anti-racist activists.

Aude Christel Mgba is an independent curator and art historian based between the Netherlands and Cameroon. She was a participant of the De Appel 2018/19 curatorial Program. In 2017, Aude worked as an assistant curator for the SUD2017, an international triennial of art in the public space, organized by doual’art, a center for contemporary art, for the city of Douala. She is a member of the Madrassa Collective, a group of eight curators from Africa, Middle East and Europe. She is co-curator of sonsbeek20->24 exhibition, an international exhibition in the city of Arnhem.


“Thinking in relationships” on Imran Mir
Location: Auditorium, Stedelijk Museum
Time: 2 to 3.15pm
Date: 2 July 2022

By reserving a place for the talk, you will also be granted free access to visit the exhibition on 2 July.

The title "Thinking in relationships" is a quote from lászló moholy-nagy that was taken from one of the writing contributions for the reader around the work and oeuvre of Imran Mir. In her essay, Natasha Ginwala describes the necessity of thinking the relationship between geometry and perspective constant in the work of Imran, beyond the clasp of Euclidean geometry that defined limits of the Western imagination. Imran Mir's work is itself a navigation within, between, through different worlds that translates to a natural refusal to be limited to any specific medium. How can abstraction be a methodology in excavating new entryways into primary concepts?

Nighat Mir
holds a Masters in International Relations, class of 1973, majoring in Far and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Karachi. She is a creative director and a writer who contributed to various periodicals through most of her career (1974 to date). In 1987 she set up the advertising and design agency The CircuitFCB with her late husband, Imran Mir. A project that ran until 2016. She is the Founding Managing Editor of quarterly journal ‘Third Text Asia’ offering critical perspectives on contemporary art and culture, published from Karachi, an off shoot of The Third Text founded by artist/activist Rasheed Araeen (2004-2009). She published and co-edited two publications, a monograph ‘Dimensions of the Illimitable’ in 2005 and ‘ What you see is what you see. The Life and Art of Imran Mir’, in 2014. She is one of the Founders of Pakistan’s premier art school, the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture and served thrice on its Board of Governors. From 2005 until 2011 she set up and ran the Foundation of Museum of Modern Art Centre as it’s director. She is the Chairperson of Imran Mir Art Foundation and chief coordinator of the Imran Mir Art Prize since 2015 to date. Nighat has two sons, Gibran and Kenan; she currently lives in Karachi.

Zippora Elders (1986) is chief curator (head of curatorial department & outreach) at the Gropius Bau in Berlin. Until recently she was director of Kunstfort bij Vijfhuizen in the Netherlands, a heritage site that she since 2016 has led as a retreat for contemporary art and ecological exchange under the themes of science fiction and enchantment, healing, fertility. Previously she was curator at Foam, museum for photography in Amsterdam. Zippora studied art history and museum curating with philosophy and public administration. Besides making exhibitions, she works as a writer, editor and (guest) teacher, and holds several advisory and supervisory positions. She is cocurator for sonsbeek20→24.

Hajra Haider Karrar is invested in articulating questions that recognize and reconfigure the colonial and capital epistemes that lay at the foundations of contemporary art production and representation. She often works with female artistic practices navigating socio-political and urban infrastructures in the transitory landscape of South Asian cities joining in the collective attempt to create a space for underrepresented themes that portray alternative narratives. Her curatorial and collaborative works have been shown in Europe, South Asia, Central Asia, and Russia.

Sedje Hémon

“Every definition is a restriction on freedom” on Sedje Hémon
Location: Auditorium, Stedelijk Museum
Time: 3.15 to 4.30pm
Date: 2 July 2022

By reserving a place for the talk, you will also be granted free access to visit the exhibition on 2 July.

“Every definition is a restriction on freedom" comes from a quote by Sedje Hémon in the essay Music, Painting, Intuition and Calculation/ Sedje Hémon and the Stedelijk Museum by Maurice Rummens, with the assistance of Claire van Els. This sentence translates the complexity of Sedje's work navigating among representation using abstraction and representation using the sonic but also how the journey among two Languages that has been thought are separated give birth to a world itself. Every tentative to grasp Sedje's work transforms into a repetition of multiple passages between both languages creating a non linear space where translation becomes a mode and it's not anymore a literal deconstruction for the understanding of the reader but a constant creation of new meanings.

Krista Jantowski
(1986) runs WALTER books, a bookshop, hang out and reading room located in Arnhem (NL). Ever since opening its doors in 2016, WALTER books is open five days a week for conversation, (collective) reading, and gossip, centering conviviality and hosting its institutional and not-so-institutional partners, centralizing publicness. She works as an organizer, host and curator.

Claire van Els is an art historian and curator at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. She assisted sonsbeek20→24 in the making of the exhibition Sedje Hemon. Imran Mir. Abdias Nascimento. Abstracting Parables at the Stedelijk.

Romy Rüegger is an artist and writer, living several pasts. Her research based artistic work generates images, texts, movements and sounds, often as collaborative structures and platforms. Through feminist lenses, her work focuses on questions of history, shared resources and voices that shape our present and our imaginations. Interested in artistic knowledge production as forms of resistance and survival, she currently focuses on histories of non-settled ways of living and working within Europe. On the invitation of sonsbeek20→24 she co-researched the life and work of artist, musician, composer, educator, activist and survivor of the Shoa, Sedje Hémon with artistic, dialogical and anti-pedagogical means.

Parasite Radio
Location: Contextualisation room, inside the exhibition
Time: 11am
Date: 3 July 2022

Join the sonsbeek20→24 curators to dig deeper into Abstracting Parables. Find us in the contextualisation room, inside the exhibition space from 11.00am or tune in online

Parasite Radio activates the (digital) ether as a possible exhibition space, as well as a hang-out, situating sound and oral cultures across histories, languages, and geographies. sonsbeek20→24 presents radio as a methodology that searches, listens, travels, hosts, and guests from different sites, both online, offline, and hybridly, from Arnhem, elsewhere in Europe, and the world. Connected to sonsbeek20→24’s main topic of concern, Parasite Radio looks into labor and the sonic, documenting and narrating the different layers and entangled relations between them, and their manifestations in the past, present, and future. Parasite Radio attempts to open-up the sometimes classed and limiting boundaries around intergenerational, accessibility-driven dialogic and communal practices by bringing together exhibition visitors and other audiences, spanning all ages, from migrants, undocumented or otherwise, to the sedentary, both non-workers and workers of all métiers alike. Echoing scholar Robin D.G. Kelley, Parasite Radio aims to “step into the complicated maze of experience that renders ‘ordinary’ folks so extraordinarily multifaceted, diverse, and complicated”. Join us for live, on-site programming every other Sunday for the duration of the exhibition.

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