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Curatorial Projects

Forthcoming: Longing on a Large Scale


Pomona College Museum of Art, California, US

September 2019-May 2020

 A year-long series of nine events inspired

by Todd Gray’s exhibition “Euclidean Gris Gris”

and curated by Nana Adusei-Poku

More information soon.

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Todd, Gray, Slipping into Darkness, all the Honey Gone, 2018, Three archival pigment prints in artist's frames and found frames with UV laminate, 51.5 x 60.5 x 4.5 in. Courtesy of the Artist & Meliksetian | Briggs, Los Angeles.

Photo credit: Michael Underwood

Performances of NO-thingness

Academy of Arts Berlin, G

May 26th and 27th 2018

The curatorial framing of this discursive platform represents

an inquiry into Black diasporic cultural productions as a critique

on hegemonic concepts of identity. In "Performances of No-thingness"

Black perspectives challenge Western concepts of gender, race,

sexualities and dis-abilities through dance and sound performances,

workshops, city tours and lectures by Nana Adusei-Poku,

Travis Alabanza, Ain Bailey, Melissa Blanco Borelli, NIC Kay,

Autumn Knight, Okwui Okpokwasili, Julia Phillips,

Peggy Piesche, Anta Helena Recke, Christina Sharpe,

Sorryyoufeeluncomfortable and Julia Wissert.


Curatorial statement

Any real change implies the breakup of the world as one has always known it, the loss of all that gave one an identity, the end of safety.

James Baldwin, Faulkner and Desegregation, 1961

Racial profiling, police brutality against Black People and African Refugees that are left to die on the shores of the Mediterranean sea, the rise of populism, xenophobia and essentialist values show that the terrors of the past have long systemic reach into the present. Blackness seems to remain the 'fantasy in hold' for eternity – the ultimate embodied aporia whose freedom is a constant struggle. Whether through discussions of a life in the presence of Black death, about mental-health, creations of 'visibility through the invisible' or establishing hope as a discipline, Black Cultural productions devise contemporary emerging aesthetic strategies of resistance. Although, resistance here means also to exist.

The colonial matrix of power consisting of patriarchy and racism is a fragile, yet prevailing apparatus of domination that demands an intersectional approach in order to be dismantled and hence pushes questions of gender, race, sexualities and dis-abilities in the centre of this discursive platform.

Decolonialism has become a trendy term, an often instrumentalized metaphor. The intimate work that has to take place on one's idea of self, which is necessary to bring about real changes is frequently disavowed. The real change is connected to the breaking apart of the world as we know it, an end to the way we think, interact, live through, understand and the practice to push beyond the binary.

"Performances of No-thingness" thus centres Black perspectives that challenge the hegemonic normative order. Performativity is utilized as an affective inquiry into the ways in which Black diasporic cultural productions confront, ignore and ludicrously lay bare the colonial condition and absurdity of hegemonic Western ideas of being. This forum proposes to enter Édouard Glissant's room of "imagination" with care, Fred Moten's "poetic sociology" with sensitivity, to give Christina Sharpe's "defense of the dead" inner space and to allow Che Gosset's suggestion of "blackness as nonperformance" as an end of one's own security.

"Performances of No-thingness" investigates cultural productions that fundamentally challenge us to rethink the way we are in the world through dance and sound performances, lectures, remastered workshops, city tours as well as intimate dialogues.

Photos: Dorothée Brand/Belathee Photography © Akademie der Künste, Berlin




Friday March 24, 2017
Piet Zwart Institute,  Rotterdam

Positions – Strategies for Artistic Accountability 
A symposium and exhibition in conjunction with

‘The Art of Looking: Description, Analysis,

Interpretation, Judgment?’, a thematic project

for the Master Fine Art at the Piet Zwart Institute,

led by Nana Adusei-Poku,

Research Professor in Visual Culture at Rotterdam University.

Featuring Nana Adusei-Poku, Timur Akhmetov, Barby Asante, Sophie Bates, Shraddha Borawake, Connie Butler, Katharina Cameron, Larisa David, Angelica Falkeling, Quinsy Gario, Alexander Iezzi, NIC Kay, Anni Puolakka, Collette Rayner, Nicholas Riis, Erika Roux, Anastasia Shin, Eothen Stearn, Daniel Tuomey.

Does an artist’s identity matter? Or can we just focus on form?

Positions – Strategies for Artistic Accountability brings together MFA artists and invited guests Quincy Gario, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Barby Asante and NIC Kay to question notions of accountability and revisit identity politics in art.


This winter, in her thematic project, ‘The Art of Looking’, Nana Adusei-Poku and the MFA artists explored questions of decolonization, the contextual framings of artists and artworks, and the predisposition to readBlackness and treat Whiteness as ‘neutral’. Taking into consideration a recently published open letter by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who suggested that those living in the Netherlands should either ‘behave normally or go away’ (‘Doe normaal of ga weg’), the question of ‘normalcy’ and the presentation of cultural identities seem to us especially urgent topics.

10am-1pm:         NIC Kay movement workshop (reserved for speakers and PZI MFA students).
1.30pm-3pm:      Communal brown bag lunch and exhibition tour.
3pm-6:15pm:      Guest presentations and group discussion.
6:15pm-7:30pm: Reception with refreshments.

Photo: Secuum Cheung

No Humans involved

Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam, NL

Friday 22 May – Sunday 16 August 2015


Witte de With is pleased to host HOWDOYOUSAYYAMINAFRICAN?,

a multi-disciplinary arts collective made up of 45 artists who have lived

and worked together, in various iterations, for the past twenty years.

The collective consists of visual artists, writers, poets, composers, academics,

filmmakers and performers from around the world who collaborate across

disciplines and cities. Projects conceived and created by this transnational

collective ultimately function as laboratories for investigation,

production and discourse.

Members of the collective recided in Rotterdam for two months

to produce new work, including video and sculptural installations,

printed matter, sonic scapes and film shorts. Many of these installations

include algorithmically produced sounds, piezoelectric material interactions

and visual material from social media, which are explored in relation to the body. By pushing the notion of technology in conjunction with socio-political questions into the physical, sensorial and hence affective realm the Collective is invested in aesthetically emphasizing what writer Sylvia Wynter called “sociogenic principle”. A concept that can be understood as a result of processes of social conditioning and culturally prescribed “sense of the self”, drawing from the work of the writer and activist Frantz Fanon.

The exhibition was organized around the central question: “What does it mean to be human in a world which is continually contesting ‘certain’ people’s humanity?” and explored different modes of perception as forms of aesthetic conceptual protest and disobedience to normative orders. The ‘new default’ position, which the collective aimed to initiate, opened up a conversation around the multiplicity of our identities. Is it possible to move outside of aesthetic strategies that art, through ideological and institutional framings, has for a long time been complicit with? Can art subvert and truly free the body outside the peripheries of myth and representation to open up a debate that might lead to an understanding of what it “feels to be human”?

The exhibition was curated by Nana Adusei-Poku (Curatorial Fellow, Witte de With and Research Professor in Cultural Diversity at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences), Sienna Shields and Christa Bell of HOWDOYOUSAYYAMINAFRICAN?, together with Defne Ayas (Director, Witte de With) and Natasha Hoare (Associate Curator, Witte de With).

Exhibition Readings

Exhibition readings were offered by experts throughout the summer:
5 June, 2015: Teana Boston-Mammah (Researcher, Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences)
3 July, 2015: Samir Bantal (Executive Manager, OMA)


Organized by Nana Adusei-Poku

The symposium Between Nothingness and Infinity was held on Tuesday 14 July from 6pm.

—With Thanks To:

The New Foundation, Seattle.

Supported by

Embassy of the United States of America, The Hague.


Installation view: Jasmine Murell, 18. Immortal Uterus, 2015, VHS film, wire, speakers and audio equipment, 30ft x 25 ft x 40ft

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