What could ArtEZ do to reach out? Recommendations audience of ‘How about Love? In the Wake of the Nashville Statement

Friday January 25th we organised How about Love? In the wake of the Nashville Statement. A group of people came together to listen, share stories, thoughts, experiences and strategies. During this meeting we asked the audience the following question:

If we talk about how to respond to ‘actions’ such as the Nashville declaration and other statements/actions that diminish the rights of certain groups of people (such as the LGBTQ-community but also other minorities), the question arises:

What could ArtEZ do to reach out and to create respectful conversations not from anger but from love? How can we take care and build a safe community for people regardless of their background (such as gender, culture, social background, colour etc.)? To support people from the LGBTQ-community and all other minorities, and make them feel welcome and feel at home?

These were the recommendations people who joined the meeting gave back to us:

Start a collective/joint movement; even if it is small to begin with.

Invite and welcome people from outside of ArtEZ – also the people who make us feel uncomfortable.

Don’t forget there is love.

Start a Genders & Sexualities Alliance Network.

Make Article 1 important.

Use creativity to increase awareness and safety.

More gender neutral language.

Gender neutral toilets.

Maybe more frequent support groups (not sure if needed).

I feel all departments and teachers should start and continue spreading the message: learn from each other as equal people.

Make it known what the proportion of LGBTQ/non-LGBTQ teachers we have in ArtEZ.


Non-gender confirmative dance classes.

Non-gendered toilets.

Use this tipping point to create an ongoing conversation and work with Allies and partners online/offline.

How not just talking to the group who knows?

Is safety shared?

Encourage students to speak about positive and negative experiences about LGBT issues, in and outside of ArtEZ. But also don’t blame students when they come from backgrounds that exclude/do not recognize LGBT in their communities, to let them speak about their situations and give room for inner change. Let them also feel safe, and show how important inclusion is for every one > to create room for real awareness, not forced.

It meant a lot for me to see that ArtEZ put up the rainbow flag in reaction to the Nashville statement. This was enough for me to see ArtEZ as a safe space for me.

A year ago I attended a precourse at ArtEZ. I felt comfortable with the genderless toilets, when I started studying here this school year I was highly disappointed with the re-gendering of the toilets! As a gender non confirming individual I don’t want to be faced with a male/female separation when I want to use the toilet. I wonder, why was the improvement taken back? When will the toilets be open for everyone?

It might be a wrong/different answer for this question, but, as an international student I often feel a separation or isolation from Dutch communities. It is often difficult to get the local information or even school information because it’s in Dutch. In terms of ‘offline’ communication, it is also frustrating for me to communicate with Dutch since our culture is very different but we are not usually aware of/caring for the differences of culture.

To be aware of the freedom you have and how can you use this? I see love as animating force. the power that sets all good and creative in motion. Love is that makes the proton, neuron and electron dance. Uncatchable like wind, powerful like wind. Use it, do love. And in this doing many of our constructed binary opposites – problems will evaporate.

Poem by João da Silva

Studium Generale organized an event on 25 January 2019, in response to the Nashville Statement, the pamphlet against gay marriage in which it is suggested that homosexual feelings can be ‘cured’, and the signing thereof by a number of Christian Dutch people, including SGP leader Kees van der Staaij. We discussed how to respond to such a statement. As an individual, artist and as an institute. This poem by João da Silva was read during the meeting.


Rest little voice of the past
And I will put you to sleep, little voice of the past
And rest you will find, little voice of the past
When rest arrives at this present.

One moment, little one,
The voice of the past will rest in you
When the present becomes little rest
And the voice of the past speaks to you, softly
When the past no longer is a part of then
But little rest in today.

Rest little voice of the past
And I will put you to rest within the present of me
As I listen, little by little, to voice of little past
Of little body
Of little voice of rest.

Rest little voice of today
In the past of the body
Resting in little room
Filled with little voices of today.

I will put you to rest in tomorrow,
Little voice of the past,
For now there is no rest in the body,
Now there is no rest in today.

Rest little voice, rest
And I will put you to rest, side by side,
Little by little, now and then,
Little voice of the past
And I will muffle you
Little voice of the past
With cotton pads of rest.

Little voice of today, rest,
As I breathe the echo of past
As voices of now arrest the rests of you
Passing through the remains of me.

As I voice the word of rest
As I arrest outside of me the rests of today
And today no longer is than longer is the past
As I rest in echoes of resting
Within the littleness of me
Beyond the breath of life


As I rest
As you rest, little voice
Grasping for breath
To become two voices
Or maybe three
Within body of no rest.

Rest little voice of silence, rest.



Dr. João da Silva is a queer movement artist and educator with a background in Experimental Dance, Choreography, Neuro Linguistic Programming and Theatre Studies. Currently he is senior lecturer and research fellow at ArtEZ University of the Arts.

Lecture Emily Witt (author Future Sex)

A Clean Well-Lighted Space: The Visual Presentation of Sexual Identity  – lecture by Emily Witt (author Future Sex) on 15 March 2018

In the early 1990s, when the first internet dating sites appeared on the World Wide Web, entrepreneurs discovered broad differences in what kinds of graphic design would attract users of different genders and sexual orientations. To attract women, in particular, dating sites used a strategy of white backgrounds, and friendly logos. They banned sexually explicit photographs and erased all hints of open sexuality, even though these were sites where people were coming to find sexual partners. This marketing strategy came to be known as creating a “clean, well-lighted space,” where women could feel comfortable looking for dates online. This lecture will explore the lessons and limitations of this visual strategy, and what it reveals about the stories we tell ourselves.

Izabella Finch

Izabella Finch has a mission to invoke gigglegasms as a medicine for the masses. She created the bombastic, eco-feminist character Priestess Pussylicious, and the comedy cabaret, performance lecture ‘The Pussy Tutorials’ to preach her ideas about empowerment through sexual intimacy, honouring persons and loving our human form… and making silly of our seriousness.

Izabella has trained in dance, singing, theatre since a child,  BA Choreography at Dartington College of Arts, and currently in her 3rd year of Voice Movement Integration studies in Amsterdam. Her work has been shown at EYE Museum, Foam Museum, Mezrab, Sexyland, Ruigoord, ADM, Tropen Theater, at comedy nights across Amsterdam & Berlin and at the Brighton Fringe in England.

Izabella Finch performs with Melanie Bonajo on 15 March in SEX  & the Sexual Politics of the Gaze, Three stories on sex, rituals and intimacy.

Watch the video of the interview with Izabella Finch on 15 March in SEX & the Sexual Politics of the Gaze.

Julius Thissen

Julius Thissen is a visual artist and a gender activist. After receiving his BA Fine Art at the ArtEZ University of the Arts in Arnhem in 2015, Julius has produced multi-disciplinary works that include photographs, videos, sculptures and installations.
In his work Julius questions (gender)identity and diversity in society. Using masculine stereotypes he explores gender roles and the influence of social expectations on our behaviour. His work also serves as a means of exploring his own identity: his graduation project gave him the confidence to come out as a transgender man.
Ever since Julius has entered the male domain, he has been taking a close look at toxic masculinity: socially-constructed notions that typify the masculine gender role as violent, unemotional, aggressive and so forth. He is keen to challenge these assumptions and put them to the test. What does it mean to be a man? And are our social expectations of what men are supposed to be fair and realistic?



Melanie Bonajo

In her work, Melanie Bonajo examines the paradoxes inherent to ideas of comfort with a strong sense for community, equality, and body-politics. Through her videos, performances, photographs and installations, she studies subjects related to how technological advances and commodity-based pleasures increase feelings of alienation. Captivated by concepts of the divine, Bonajo explores the spiritual emptiness of her generation, examines peoples’ shifting relationship with nature and tries to understand existential questions by reflecting on our domestic situation, ideas around classification, concepts of home, gender and attitudes towards value.

Melanie Bonajo studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy and completed residencies at the Rijksakademie voor Beeldende Kunst in Amsterdam (2009-10) and at ISCP in New York (2014). Her work has been exhibited and performed in international art institutions and her films have been screened at numerous international festivals.

The video work ‘Night Soil -Economy of Love’ portrays a group of sex workers in Brooklyn who regard their work as a way for women to regain power in a male-dominated pleasure zone. Their mission is to transform sexual conventions and ideas about intimacy. The vivid images are accompanied by spoken text, an expression of Bonajo’s vision of contemporary spirituality and expectations about gender roles, with playful, sensual and feminist means. Power to the female body!

Melanie Bonajo is guest in the programme ‘Tools for engagement: Three stories about sex, rites and intimicy’ (part of Sex & the Sexual Politics of the Gaze).

Jaamil Olawale Kosoko

photo by Erik Carter

Jaamil Olawale Kosoko, originally from Detroit, MI, is a Nigerian-American curator, author, and performance artist. He is a 2017 Princeton Arts Fellow, a 2017 Jerome Artists in Residence at Abrons Arts Center, and a 2017 Cave Canem Poetry Fellow. His work has been presented throughout Europe and the United States. He has created original roles in the performance works of visual artist Nick Cave, Pig Iron Theatre Company, Keely Garfield Dance, Miguel Gutierrez and The Powerful People, Headlong Dance Theater, among others. Kosoko’s poems, interviews, and essays can be found published in The American Poetry Review, Poems Against War, The Dunes Review, Silo, Detroit Research v2, Dance Journal (PHL), the Broad Street Review (PHL), Movement Research Performance Journal, and Critical Correspondence (NYC).

Jaamil lectures, speaks, and performs internationally. His previous work #negrophobia has toured throughout Europe having appeared in major festivals including Moving in November (Finland), TakeMeSomewhere (UK), SICK! (UK), Tanz im August (Berlin), Oslo Internasjonale Teaterfestival (Norway), Zurich MOVES! (Switzerland), Beursschouwburg (Belgium) and Spielart Festival (Munich). Visit Jaamil.com or philadiction.org for more information.

Jaamil gives a lecture and workshop on 13 April 2018. Check Jaamil on video:


Fleur Hulleman

Fleur Hulleman is a material designer and concept shaper. She makes items for use close to the body. You can wear it or it’s an interior product you can have interaction with. Her work is ecstatically and attractive. She has a fascination for relations between color, material, tactility and what experience it brings. What effect does it have on space and the spectator?
January 2017 Hulleman graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven. With her project ‘Porn for the soul’ she seduces people to create sexy fantasies. It is a new vision on the known porn industry.