The Body as a Ground for Belonging

25 februari 2019

Time: 19:00 – 21:00 hrs

Location: Theaterzaal, Rhijnvis Feithlaan 50, Zwolle

Guests: Milica Trakilovic and Christine Ayo

Language: English



This evening about identity, home and the body is a collaboration between studium generale – Kitchen Table Conversations and Honours Programme – Talks with Honours


In his song Not Perfect, comedian Tim Minchin sings: ‘This is my body. And it’s fine. It’s where I spend the vast majority of my time.’

What does it mean to be at home in a body? And what does it take to find a space in society where your body can belong, safely and freely?

Looking for answers to these questions studium generale and Honours Programme will come together with researcher Milica Trakilovic and artist Christine Ayo for an open talk. Christine blurs the line between audience and artwork, tackling issues such as: politicisation of bodies, violence against women and hidden colonial histories rooted in daily life. Milica researches how female bodies have been marked as territory, as ‘the body of the nation’. She shows the potential of art to reinstate the body in its fleshly complexity against this overdetermined image of the female body as symbol of the nation-state.


Milica Trakilovic

Milica Trakilović is a PhD student in the The Institute for Cultural Inquiry at Utrecht University where she also teaches in the Graduate Gender Programme. From 2015 until 2018 she was Research Assistant in the ERC project Bodies Across Borders: Oral and Visual Memory in Europe and Beyond, an ethnographic project on memory and migration in Europe. Her research interests focus on visual culture, feminist art practice, European migration and postsocialist transitions.

Moving the Body of the Nation: Self-Performance as Subversion of Nationalist Ideologies

The image of the female body as a synonym for national territory, and vice versa, has a very long and widely circulated tradition. My research zooms in on the ways in which female bodies have been marked as territory (‘the body of the nation’ or ‘ the homeland’) in the context of the Yugoslav wars of the early 1990s and how this imagery has carried into the postwar period as a tool of nationalistic ideology and Orientalist stereotyping in the West. Women’s bodies, in signifying the home or the nation, become overburdened with meaning and rooted by that image. Tracing my analysis through three select visual works by female artist from the former Yugoslavia, I argue that potential of art lies in its capacity to reinstate and ‘move’ the body in its fleshly complexity by embodying, paradoxically, an overdetermined image.


Christine Ayo

The interdisciplinary nature of Ayo’s practise is informed by personal encounters with socio-political phenomena that she finds fascinating and urgent to interrogate. With an intention of blurring the line between audience and artwork, Ayo employs a multifaceted approach in tackling issues such as; politicisation of vulnerable bodies, violence against women and hidden problematic colonial histories rooted in daily life.

Ayo is a former student of ArtEZ and Honour’s program. She is currently pursuing a Master in Fine Art degree at Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam.


‘’Lobowa Lobowa!’’ (Our land, Our land!)
– Apaa women in Northern Uganda,2015

Across several communities in African countries, women have historically used their bodies to preserve autonomy and property, in response to oppressive power structures interlinked with capitalist (post)colonial laws. The ambiguity of such laws embedded in prevailing authoritarian systems of governance, continuously generate loopholes that are misused to weaponize cultural rituals and practices against vulnerable bodies.

My artistic research into the plight of women living within marginalized communities in Uganda, started from the unresolved women murders in Wakiso district, 2017. First believed to result from acts of witchcraft, the killings demanded insignificant intervention by political authorities of Uganda. From this context, my ongoing project, Voicing Entebbe researches and puts into practice embodied interventions and installations that facilitate women to claim agency amidst adversity.