Traces AIR Antwerpen

LODGERS#16: Heterotropics

Sep 2018 to Nov 2018
2016 lives and works in Amsterdam

The last LODGERS is Heterotropics, an Amsterdam-based research and curatorial platform initiated and run by independent curator Sara Giannini. Arising from the intimacy between the linguistic “trope” and the geographical “tropic,” Heterotropics is a fictitious concept relating language, space and collective imagery. Unfolding through different chapters and collaborations, the project looks at the remnants of colonial fantasy and exotic projection in different urban and cultural landscapes, exploring and performing imagined geographies. Launched in 2016 with a roaming performance and exhibition programme in the “Indies Neighboorhood” of Amsterdam with artists Alex 2000, Pauline Curnier Jardin, Jacopo Miliani, David Bernstein & Jokūbas Čižikas, Heterotropics has so far commissioned and facilitated a 6-week programme by KUNCI Cultural Studies Centre (Yogyakarta) at the Tropenmuseum and the site-specific performance Pavilion by Milena Bonilla and Luisa Ungar at the Rijksmuseum. Following the joint invitation of M HKA and AIR Antwerpen, Heterotropics will operate outside of its Amsterdam base for the first time with a durational exhibition and performance programme unfolding on the 6th floor of the museum.

Heterotropics #4: On Acausal Connecting Principles pushes forth Heterotropics’ research on the entanglement of fiction, language, space and history using the phenomenon of “acausal connectivity” to address the interplay of psychic and physical states, as well as the embeddedness of meaning and matter. Studied by pioneering psychoanalyst C.G. Jung under the term of “synchronicity”, acausal connectivity refers to the remarkable concurrence of events without any apparent causal connection, which we commonly refer to as coincidences. While examining the case of such meaningful coincidences, Jung defined synchronicity as that which “cannot be a question of cause and effect, but of a falling together in time, a kind of simultaneity” (Jung, 1969). In this perspective, time is not understood as a linear succession but as a field centred on a specific moment binding an ensemble of events, both psychic and physical.

On Acausal Connecting Principles takes on the Jungian concept of synchronicity as a curatorial and research methodology. As a 3-month durational programme, the project presents a chamber of five accumulative acts acausally connected through the 1883 colossal Krakatoa volcanic eruption in Indonesia – the Dutch East Indies at the time. One of the most devastating events in recorded history, the eruption occurred while the Dutch East Indies were promoted as a tamed tropical paradise in the Amsterdam International Colonial and Export Exhibition (“Internationale Koloniale en Uitvoerhandel Tentoonstelling”). Whereas both events have found their way into history books, their “falling together in time” has never been examined.

Considered by some researchers as the prologue to the demise of the Dutch Colonial Empire, the eruption caused the sinking of an archipelago, killing thousands of people. Its sound was so powerful that it travelled around the globe four times, while its dust altered the world’s climate, producing red skies over Northern Europe for several years. At the very moment of the blast, however, the Amsterdam fair was celebrating the stability and exotic charm of the empire through model Indonesian villages inhabited by real people. Like all types of colonial and ethnographic exhibitions, the Amsterdam fair created a spectacle of domination where people and objects are treated as elements in an imagined representation, as broken symbols and symptoms of a disease spreading called imperialism. What is this coincidence revealing? What psychic levels connect the unconscious logic of the volcano to the taxonomy of colonial reason?

From this generative synchronicity a cascade of coincidences brings together the various acts composing Heterotropics #4. The acts are connected to one another through acausal lines of flight, linking distant and apparently unrelated matters, traveling and unravelling from the belly of the Earth to the depths of the cosmos. These apparition does not aim to render any representation, but rather to move away from it, protesting against the conventions of the human gaze and historical narratives, operating through non-specificity, magmatic flows, eruptions, and entropy. Over the course of three months, the project stages a field of entanglements across time, space, and matter, bringing together the work of artists and researchers who in their different practices investigate divergent formulations of knowledge, elucidating the mystified objectivity of the “real”, shifting scales of visibility, and voices blowing across time.

Interventions and performances by Sara Giannini, Adam Bobbette, Mehraneh Atashi, Milena Bonilla & Luisa Ungar and Ivan Cheng will consecutively inhabit the space leaving different traces behind towards a final accumulation. From text-based displays to immersive installations, via bodily (dis)appearances, their work seeks to complicate the distinction between psychic and physical realms, divination and science, outer-space and inner-space, visibility and invisibility, distance and proximity, absence and presence. Destabilising the colonial-scented canon of exhibition-making, Heterotropics #4 aims to weave a junction for events and non-events beyond chronology and belonging, challenging anthropocentric narratives and subliminal systems of belief.

A live documentation page curated by Ivan Cheng will run parallel to the programme on

Every act will outlive its announced timespan with different traces that will accumulate and be left on display until the end of the project.

Updates will follow as the project unfolds.

27 September
Sara Giannini
Opening of the project with an installation of the past-present-future coincidences underpinning it.
*Realised in collaboration with designer Raoul Audouin.

3-5 October
Adam Bobbette
*Delivered and performed by Ivan Cheng
** Detailed schedule TBA
A volcanologist is a radio engineer. An earthquake is a heartbeat. You need to know how to synch your signals because it’s all a matter of frequencies. A shaman who makes shoes and used to be a spy in Sumatra works in the market during the day but gives advice about love in the evening to young and old men. This is about him, Santoso, but others, too.

18-27 October
Mehraneh Atashi
*Performance in collaboration with Geo Wyeth on October 25
The heart of this work is an electrical system that translates latent energy from detritus into light and sound effects. The installation is itself a circuit – a feedback-loop of organic and inorganic matter that transforms raw information into measurable data. In excess of materials and transmissions, the work resembles a haunting cosmic landscape, one bursting with transmutations of life forces.

28 October-24 November
Milena Bonilla and Luisa Ungar
*More details and public moments TBA
Working towards the setting up of a research space, the artist-duo take as a departure point the synchronicity between the Krakatoa eruption and the Amsterdam Colonial Exhibition, as well as the unprecedented global effect that the eruption had environmentally and in terms of the spread of information. From these premises, they will approach volcanic life as a kind of dormant interactivity between lifeforms inside a volatile structure. In this sense, the history of the volcano becomes connected to the external world, inspiring tools for crafting actions and interventions in the exhibition space.

1-8 December
Ivan Chen
Whether instrumental, comic, dramatic, or character based, an intermezzo is understood to function between acts. When it is named as an act in itself, what can be thrown into relief? Like a spy, Ivan Cheng works from the position of 'in-between', using observation as a means of operating throughout the duration of Heterotropics #4. INTERMEZZO’S re-interprets and reports the gleaned knowledge.

08-16 December
The post-finale accumulation of traces left behind by the various acts, opening to new beginnings and lifeforms.

Sara Giannini is an independent researcher, curator, teacher and writer based in Amsterdam. Informed by her background in theatre and semiotics, she is drawn towards the interlinking of language and performativity across a variety of artistic practices, contexts and disciplines.

After her MA in Semiotics from the University of Bologna (cum laude), she worked for the research program Global Art and the Museum at the ZKM | Karlsruhe (2010-2014), and from 2012 until 2015 she held the position of artistic coordinator of the traveling research group OuUnPo | Ouvroir d’Univers Potentiels. As an independent curator she has initiated experimental collaborative projects such as the VOLUME project (with 98weeks, Beirut, 2013-2014), the web-publishing platform Unfold (2015-ongoing), and Heterotropics. In 2016/17 she was a fellow at the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, researching aphasic language in relation to the archive of the Dutch artist René Daniëls. The fellowship resulted in the exhibition and performance series OWNNOW: René Daniëls. Her projects have taken place in institutional settings, urban contexts, online platforms and independent project spaces, including Jumex Museum, Mexico City; documenta 14, Athens; the Museum of Modern Art, Kunsthalle São Paulo and Casa do Povo, São Paulo; de Appel, Stedelijk Museum, Rijksmuseum and Tropenmuseum, all in Amsterdam; 98weeks, Mansion, Assabil Public Libraries, Beirut. Since 2017 Giannini has been part of the core tutor team of the If I Can’t Dance Class at the Dutch Art Institute and in Autumn 2018 will join the Bard Center for Curatorial Studies as a visiting research fellow. She has lectured internationally and contributed to a variety of books and catalogues. Together with artist Jacopo Miliani, she is the co-author of the book Whispering Catastrophe. On the Language of Men Loving Men in Japan forthcoming for SelfPleasurePublishing.

Adam Bobbette is geographer and writer. He completed his PhD at the University of Cambridge and is currently a research fellow at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, where he is writing a book on the political geology of Indonesia since 1945. His writing has appeared in Cabinet, N+1, the Times Literary Supplement, as well as scholarly journals and edited books.

Mehraneh Atashi (b. 1980) is an Iranian artist living and working in Amsterdam. Since her BFA in photography in Tehran, and her postgraduate education at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam, she has developed a body of work consisting of assemblages, sculpture, photography and video. Shifting between conceptualism and materiality, imagery and iconography, her practice explores the possibility of becoming within static systems as well as concepts of gaze. Her work has been awarded the Mondrian Stipendium for Established Artists in 2014, and presented in experimental solo and group exhibitions in Los Angeles, London, Bratislava, Reykjavík, Berlin, Graz and Amsterdam.

Milena Bonilla was born in Bogota, Colombia, and she currently lives and works in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Her work dives into political complexities among humans, language and living entities in order to trace and map the cracks that those interactions have left in silence through the sedimentation of predetermined logics and beliefs. The artist uses a variety of media in her production including installations, video, performance, drawing, text, public interventions and photography. Her work has been shown and performed in different international venues including Museo d’arte Contemporanea MACRO, Rome; Kadist Paris and San Francisco; Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, Amsterdam; The Mistake Room, Los Angeles Ca.; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; Ar/Ge Kunst, Bolzano; The Jewish Museum, New York; MAMM, Medellín; Spring Workshop in Hong Kong; CA2M Madrid; MNBA, Buenos Aires; The Photographer’s Gallery and the International Institute of Visual Arts in London; Witte de With in Rotterdam; Konstall C, Stockholm; Marrakech and Shangai Biennial’s parallel projects, and the 12th. Istanbul, 10th. Havana and 3rd. Bucharest Biennials. Milena Bonilla is currently a recipient of The Work Award Proven Talent, given by the Mondriaan Fonds in The Netherlands.

Luisa Ungar (b. Bogota, Colombia) studied visual arts in Bogotá, and has an MFA from Sandberg Institute, Amsterdam. She is currently a guest resident at AIR Antwerpen, Belgium. Her recent work deals with narratives involving animality and the non-human in colonial circuits. Looking at mechanisms that question ways in which history is constructed, she often seeks to connect archived or academic material with everyday popular use, unveling the role of the expert by making room for improvisation, association, gossip and chaos. Her varied projects range from zoo visit guides to educational projects, using performance, drawing and text. Her work has been shown and performed at different venues such as Mercosul Biennial in Porto Alegre; Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid; Marrakech Biennial Parallel project; Museo de arte Banco de República Bogotá; Rong Wrong, Amsterdam; Festival de Performance de Cali; Spring Workshop, Hong Kong; Bienal Sur, Rosario.She has been co-editor of publication projects such as DISDISDIS (On vampires and other forms of conviviality), and Proyecto Asterisco. She has been a resident at Gasworks, TRain Residency in London; RESò, Italy and Maebashi Arts Center, Japan. Since 2013 she has been making collaborative work with Milena Bonilla.

Ivan Cheng is an Australian artist whose practice focuses on modes of reading, often gesturing toward systems of power and reproduction. He also works as a performer, clarinettist, and dramaturg in multiple contexts, specialising in contemporary scores. He recently completed an MFA in Critical Studies (Sandberg Instituut, Amsterdam), having previously studied at the Royal Academy of Music and Sydney Conservatorium of Music. His text-based performances have been presented in Sydney, London, Amsterdam, Vilnius, Tokyo, Berlin and New York. As a studio practice, he initiates project space in Amsterdam.

The project is kindly supported by the Mondriaan Fonds