Visualization Pansee Atta
31 May 2024

To Make One Partickle Of The Public Soul Of All Things


As part of the Rijksakademie Open Studios we are pleased to present the performance To Make One Partickle Of The Public Soul Of All Things by Pansee Atta at Wereldmuseum Amsterdam. As Pressing Matter artist-in-residence Atta has been working with the Wereldmuseum and Vrolik collections since December 2023 to create a new work to reimagine different froms of return, repair, and reconciliation.

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To Make One Partickle Of The Public Soul Of All Things

Using traditional media and open-source technology, Egyptian artist Pansee Atta grapples with the history and ethics of museum collections of human remains.

This site-specific performance at the Wereldmuseum Amsterdam links the history of the Oosterpark’s disinterred cemetery with the museum’s human remains, from both Amsterdam and colonial sites around the world. It visualizes the scope of the Wereldmuseum’s collection of human remains, as well the decontextualization resulting from its lack of documentation. Situating the viewer in a large-scale, virtual field of columns representing individual human “entities” in the collection, To make one partickle of the public soul of all things combines data visualization and rituals of memorialization to think through what ought to be revealed or concealed in public collections.

Taking its name from Thomas Browne’s 1658 rebuke of the trade in Egyptian mummies in response to his work in Dutch anatomical collections, To make one partickle […] draws a web of connections between the Netherlands and Global South through stories of the bodies that lie above and below the museum’s displays. It asks: what do the living owe the dead, and how are our collective autonomies entangled in this particular place? How do projects of ‘progress’ dehumanize European and non-European bodies alike, and how do we restore a portion of our shared dignities? How might we envision a future in which the dead and living are liberated alike; not as matter but as entities which defy containment?

Visualization Pansee Atta

Pansee Atta

Pansee Atta is an Egyptian-Canadian visual artist, curator, and researcher. Using a variety of new media, her work examines themes of representation, migration, archives, and political struggle. Previous residencies include the Impressions Residency Award at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, the SparkBox Studio Award, and at the Atelier of Alexandria. Previous exhibitions have taken place in collaboration with SAW Video in Ottawa, at Galerie La Centrale Powerhouse and Z Art Space in Montréal. Her research centers community-based responses to colonial projects of collection, display, study.

Portrait Pansee Atta

Pressing Matter

Pressing Matter is a four-year international research program about colonial heritage and its legacies, financed by the Dutch National Science Agenda (NWA) and coordinated from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. One of the main partners is Wereldmuseum (National Museum of World Cultures). Pressing Matter investigates the potentialities of ‘colonial objects’ to support societal reconciliation with the colonial past and its afterlives, and to deal with conflicting claims by different stakeholders for these objects within museums. The project will connect fundamental theories of valuation and property to postcolonial debates on heritage to these societal debates and aims to develop and test, first, new theoretical models of value and ownership and, second, new forms of return that address but move beyond current approaches to heritage restitution, while developing a theory of object potentialities grounded in the entangled, multipolar histories in which colonial objects were collected, kept and made meaningful. 

Logo's WM, RA, PM