Greetings from Amsterdam! I’ve been back in my old hometown for the 2022 Prince Claus Awards for arts, culture and social progress, as I had the honour of being one of the advisors for the awards jury this year again.
It’s such a privilege to be able to encounter so much talent, creativity and passion from all over the world within such limited time and space. The awards ceremony with its surrounding networking events is one of those cultural incubators where new possible geographies and becomings are being formed: “the dawn of the world” (after Deleuze) created by people coming together, and through listening, curiosity and care, attempting to find a common ground, a novel space, between each other as well as between existing borders, territories and divisions. There’s a sense of new hopeful futurality in the air. Yet it’s not all plain-sailing toward some utopia, more like a chaotic and colourful navigation through the present.
The awards ceremony itself at the Royal Palace was gorgeous, with King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima as well as Princess Beatrix, Princess Laurentien and Prince Constantijn in the audience. Also witnessed a heartwarming vocal performance by South African singer Amarafleur (chills running down my spine), futuristically primitive/indigenously futuristic hip-hop by Senegalese duo DEFMAA MAADEF (Mamy Victory and Defa), and one of the most exhilarating dance performances ever by Nigerian dancer and choreographer Sunday Obiajulu Ozegbe and his dance group Ennovate Dance House: their insanely inventive and energising choreography, inspired by the city of Lagos, was accompanied by a soundtrack fusing Lagos soundscapes with electronic music, and I literally had to hold back my tears and idiotic smile as it took me back to Emeka Ogboh and my wide-eyed experiments (LOS-HEL: Possible Cities) all those years ago. Inspiring conversations and encounters at the reception, dinner and the afterparty afterwards (met also this lovely opera singer from Fiji, into Finnish classical music and married to the French ambassador to Italy – turns out we are neighbours in Paris! I told him that as a kid I wrote a fictional adventure story based entirely on my imagined idea of Fiji; he’s yet to ruin that image). A tender, colourful, wonderful evening.
You can read more about the recipients and the awards at www.princeclausfund.org.
A couple of notes from the event:
“Untranslatable.” French-Senegalese film director and screenwriter Alain Gomis, one of the recipients of this year’s Prince Claus Impact Awards, kept referring to the untranslatable qualities as those that make you ‘you’, and the reason why we need diversity of voices, narratives and perspectives to make that untranslatable somewhat understandable. When Gomis received the main prize for best film at the 23rd pan-African film festival (Fespaco) in Burkina Faso in 2013, I was in the audience listening to him but he spoke in French, with an overdubbed and shortened English translation echoing around the Stade du 4 Août stadium, and many things became untranslatable in that hot Ouagadougou night. I love the idea very much.
“A banker is originally a catalyst who enables ideas to come into being, and who ensures that wealth is distributed equally among the society.” Carlo Rizzo, the director of the Dubai Collection and an ex-banker, sitting next to me at the dinner table. He left his job as a banker, because he couldn’t help the society the way he’d imagined – imagine a world where the banks still served their original purpose?