Waning Crescent Moon Phase 18.10 - 20.10

‘The Waning Crescent Moon Phase’ is the last of the three public moments of ‘Coltan as Cotton’, the Contour Biennale 9. The main theme of this closing phase is the near future, but just like the moon cycle, it is understood as an ongoing transformation into present and past. Artists were commissioned to research and work on their projects for the duration of one year, which has resulted in several world premieres, presentations and performances. These works will be presented to offer insight into alliances of social or political accountability in relation to the colonial period and contemporary structural racism. Along with this, ecological and societal degrowth and aspirations for hope and propositional thinking have always been important aims. During the closing phase, the biennial will draw conclusions concerning its desire to instigate some relevant discussions for the social, ecological and political realities of the city of Mechelen, its region, and the organisation that hosts the biennial itself.

For the project ‘Memory of Congo, in Congo and in Mechelen’, Bie Michels has confronted two histories with each other: a public monument located in Mechelen and her own personal history. In an attempt to let the past encounter the present and see further into the future of the postcolonial situation in both the Congo and Mechelen, she collaborated with a group of Belgian citizens with Congolese roots living in and around Mechelen on a proposal for a new inscription on the local sculpture by Lode Eyckermans that pays homage to 31 Belgian “pioneers who died for civilization in Congo”. The film ‘(Pas) Mon Pays, Part I and II’, is an integral part of the project, along with the installation ‘The Copy’.

Jelena Jureša’s premiere ‘Ubundu’, is a film poem inspired by the writings of W.G. Sebald and his comments on the “ugliness of Belgium” as a result of emerging amnesia and the participation of all Belgians in the exploitation of Congolese resources. Her film ‘Aphasia' is a work about racism and intolerance that deals with the crimes committed during colonial times, the Holocaust and the atrocities in Bosnia during the Yugoslavian wars. Her work is not a call for punishment or outrage about committed crimes, but rather a call to break the collective silence and to actually look at the blind spots that seem to have become a fundamental part of our European identity.

For his new film ‘the wasp and the weather’, Robin Vanbesien has collaborated with contemporary poets and artists as well as the original authors of the poems that were published by Rzoezie, a former youth centre in Mechelen. Vanbesien asked them to read the poems while thinking about how far their words preserved the activist history of the time in which they were written (1990-2000), and to reflect upon their resonance in today’s social and political weather.

Natascha Sadr Haghighian and Ashkan Sepahvand present 'Carbon Theater. A Planetary Drama Around Life and Non-Life. Act III: Dark Loops’. This Act III of their study Carbon Theater is ongoing since 2016, investigating the discrepancies between sensing and knowing. Each iteration of Carbon Theater unfolds from a found site and challenges the anthropocentric narratives that inform current discussions on climate change. The sound installation and listening session of Act III draws upon the site of the Fort van Walem, located between Antwerp and Mechelen, revealing its military history and its present as a nature reserve and refuge for creatures such as bats and dragonflies.

‘Sowing Somankidi Coura, a Generative Archive’ is a long-term research endeavour by Raphaël Grisey and Bouba Touré. It focuses on the permaculture and archives of Somankidi Coura, a self-organized agricultural cooperative along the Senegal River. The cooperative was founded by a group of former African migrant workers and activists in France in 1977, after the Sahel drought of 1973. Through a practice of filmmaking, archiving, publication, workshop and theatre, ‘Sowing Somankidi Coura’ engages in the articulation of liberation narratives, collective care and peasant alliances towards a denaturalisation and decolonization of development politics.

After the disaster at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear accident that plunged Japan into an unprecedented social, political and ecological crisis, Hikaru Fujii began his project ’Les nucléaires et les choses’. Within it, he opens the discussion up for everybody, as the subject remains one of the most important issues in current Japanese society. His lecture performance shows excerpts of his new film, about a round table discussion at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. The discussion was based on a recent visit by the artist and members of the collective Call It Anything to the museum in Futaba in the zone affected by the disaster.

Following Samira Saleh and Shabaka Hutchings, the world renowned bassist and creative visionary Melvin Gibbs will be the last guest on ‘The Wish List’. Overturning the externally drawn boundaries between musical and other artistic forms in his work, Gibbs will perform and also present a lecture entitled ’Recombination: Modes of Creativity in the Age of the Meme.’

Contributors to the ‘Waning Moon Crescent Phase’:

Bie Michels, Cadine Navarro, Call It Anything, COYOTE, Greyzone Zebra, Hikaru Fujii, Jelena Jureša, Laura Nsengiyumva, Melvin Gibbs, Natascha Sadr Haghighian and Ashkan Sepahvand, On Trade Off (Alexis Destoop, Georges Senga, Maarten Vanden Eynde), Raphaël Grisey and Bouba Touré, Robin Vanbesien, Saddie Choua, The Writers Bench.

Overall list of contributors to ’Coltan as Cotton’:

Amandine Gay, Bie Michels, Black Speaks Back, Black(s) to the Future, Cadine Navarro, Call it Anything, Christian Nyampeta, Coyote, Daniela Ortiz, Emmanuel Owusu-Bonsu, Fallon Mayanja, Greyzone Zebra, Hikaru Fujii, Jelena Jureša, Laura Nsengiyumva, Léopold Lambert, Maria Lucia Cruz Correia, Mark Požlep, Monique Mbeka Phoba, Natascha Sadr Haghighian & Ashkan Sepahvand, On-Trade-Off (Picha & Enough Room for Space), Raphaël Grisey & Bouba Touré, Robin Vanbesien, Saddie Choua, Samira Saleh, Sara Sejin Chang (Sara van der Heide), The Black Archives & Raul Balai, The Writer's Bench