7 February 2020

Practicing Togetherness? Refusal/Revolt in the Minor Mode

CLOSED FIELD LAB | 6 - 7 Feb | KIT, Amsterdam

Over the coming years, the RCMC, together with Critical Visitors, Heritage Institutions for Everyone network, will explore the analytical, political and practical utility of the concept of togetherness as a strategy to fashion more just and equitable futures.  Acknowledging long histories of collective mobilisation across difference, captured, for example, in terms such as solidarity, allyship and coalition, the togetherness describes those modes of mobilisation that enacts forms of being and labouring together to counter diverse structures of domination, marginalisation, and exclusion.

With Eliza Steinbock, Hester Dibbits, Wayne Modest, and special guests Eliza Chandler (TBC) and Miriyam Aouragh.

Our thinking about togetherness today, comes in the wake of the recent re-emergence of the term decolonisation to describe strategies for rendering institutions more just, more inclusive. Such demands for decolonisation (beyond earlier appeals for diversity) have raised questions about who does, from what positionality, and how such justice work in and outside the institution should be done. This has also raised concerns from diverse corners about reductive forms of identity politics, grounded in notions of incommensurable difference, with its presumed negative effects, including the splintering of society.

While taking such concerns seriously, our approach to togetherness draws on what increasingly has been referred to in as ‘intersectionality,’ a concept that emerged from and that has had a century-long history based in US- Black intellectualisms. Rather than splintering, we are interested in how such a concept bridges the plural ways in which rules of normalcy other us in different ways, other each other, and notably our museum’s visitors and potential visitors through categories understood socially as: dis/ability, gender, geographic birthplace, neurological sensibilities, race, and sexuality.

How can being and labouring together recover the notion of identity politics that do not elide difference, but is also not anchored in ideas of incommensurability? What histories of mobilisation across difference can we draw on to imagine and fashion as part of practices for creating more just and equitable future?  How can we enable cultural institutions to implement daily working practices that allow for more inclusivity and accessibility? How might we create heritage institutions for everyone?

Critical Visitors, Heritage Institutions for Everyone is an NWO Creative Industries: Smart Culture – Arts and Culture funded project that includes several other institutions such as Imagine IC, the Stedelijk Museum, and the Van Abbemuseum 

Image: Image courtesy of Dirk van den Heuvel.