October 28, 2017
On his deathbed, Copernicus published the book that founded modern astronomy. Three centuries before, Arab scientists Mu’ayyad al-Din al-’Urdi and Nasir al-Din Tusi had come up with the theorems crucial to that development. Copernicus used their theorems but did not cite the source.
Europe looked in the mirror and saw the world.
Beyond that lay nothing.
Mirrors – Stories of Almost Everyone, Eduardo Galeano’s acclaimed book published in 2008 formulates the thesis that European consciousness has long neglected other cultures, their ideas, inventions, and traditions. A relentless self-referentiality has continuously served and is still serving as a justification for (neo)colonial projects. Achille Mbembe – a political theorist of Cameroonian origin – takes up the mirror imagery in his celebrated book Critique of Black Reason (2017) and argues that European thought had tended to conceive of identity less in terms of mutual belonging (cobelonging) to a common world than in terms of a relation between similar beings – of being itself emerging and manifesting itself in its own state, on its own mirror.
Clearly, especially today, the term “Europe” is not to be perplexed with a singular and homogeneous body. The recurring significance of and persistent emphasis in geographical, cultural, and performed borders in the everyday jargon, governmental reports, and the media, proves quite the opposite. This development and the paradoxical phenomenon that European countries, respectively their economies, seem to perfectly co-exist at least when it comes to (necro)capital endeavors in resource-rich countries across the world, urges for an inclusive inquiry together with the divergent subjectivities that constitute Europe today and to allow for Europe’s self-image to be deconstructed and critically reflected. How do those feel and think about Europe who have been forced into migration? Has their initial imagination become reality? Or has Europe’s bureaucratic machinery, the hostile reception by several of its citizens and the often humiliating living conditions in camps and provisionary housing disillusioned their hopes and dreams?
Charl Landvreugd – a Dutch artist, curator, and researcher of the African diaspora – invites the Green light participants to investigate the notion of “Europeanness” through the lens of the black body and to consider to what extent the Green light workshop has been unfolding in this framework over the past few months. The ideas and results of the workshop shall be presented and followed up during the finissage of the Green light project in Venice on October 29.
Landvreugd was born in Paramaribo, and grew up in Rotterdam. He conceives of cultural identity as a construct (including ethnicity and expected social status) and advocates for an epistemological rethinking of creole subjectivity. Landvreugd, himself perceived variously as racially African, ethnically South American and culturally European, imagines space as a subjectivity and subjectivity as a space and calls for an “understanding of creole cultural multiplicity that is enriched by diasporic life in continental Europe”. As an artist/researcher, Landvreugd creates sculptures, installations, performances, photographs, videos, texts and exhibitions. Since 2009, his work has been presented in the US, UK, the Caribbean, Senegal and the Netherlands. His work is published in magazines such as ARC, Small Axe, Open Arts Journal and several catalogues. Landvreugd studied at Goldsmiths College, London and Columbia University in New York. He is currently a PhD candidate at the Royal College of Art in London.