Artist Kathryn Smith poses next to reconstructed portrait of fugitive enslaved person
Artist Kathryn Smith poses next to reconstructed portrait of fugitive enslaved person

Artist in Residence: Facing Slavery in Nijmegen

From 22 – 29 April 2024, interdisciplinary professor in Visual Arts Kathryn Smith (Stellenbosch University, South Africa) will visit Nijmegen for a new Arts meets Science project. Smith will take residency in Besiendershuis, where she will be working together with Radboud Universiteit historian Dries Lyna on a portrait which symbolizes the involvement of Nijmegen in slavery practices.

Creating a portrait 

Smith will work on an artist impression based on a young man named Manille, who died in Nijmegen at the age of 19 in 1841. Manille was originally from Makkasar and lived in and house on the Grote Markt, where the HEMA now stands. He was a 'former serf' of Jan Christoffel Richemond, an officer in the Royal Indian Army (KNIL). All that remains of Manille is his death certificate, which can be found in the Nijmegen Archives. 

The artist will give a face to Manille by building up a portrait out of photos of the people of Nijmegen today. The portrait will be added to the exposition 'Fugitive', currently to be seen on the Radboud Campus. This Nijmegen portrait will stand as a symbol of the city’s involvement in slavery and puts a face to enslaved lives. The end result will be revealed at the Keti Koti commemoration day on 1 July.

Smith’s residency coincides with the start of a scientific research project on the involvement of Nijmegen city administrators and organizations in slavery by Coen van Galen and Joris van den Tol, and the project of Dries Lyna on the forgotten histories of slavery in Dutch Asia by Dries Lyna, all members of Radboud Institute of Culture and History. 

Masterclass and public lecture

During her residency in Besiendershuis – Huis van Verbeelding Smith will give a public lecture about her work for 'Fugitive’ and the Sutherland Reburial project. She will also host a masterclass ‘From Colonial Archive to Story: Critical Fabulation as (Art) Historical Method’ . This masterclass will explore the intersection of art and historical research for representing and re-imagining the lives of marginalized people living under colonial rule. 

Collaborating with Besiendershuis

Smith’s residency is the kick off for a long-term cooperation between Radboud Universiteit’s Faculty of Arts and cultural producer Besiendershuis, in which several “Arts meets Science” projects on urgent societal themes will be developed. The first theme to be explored is the impact of slavery and colonial past on today’s society.

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