female pioneer

writing with and without my grandmother;
not her [representation] but a point of touch, a ‘trace

MA Thesis


A grandmother represented as a female pioneer, commemorated by a bronze box at a Dutch university campus. An entangled political inheritance; found in the cracks of an unattended monument; re-opened by a trace. She was born in Surabaya, then the Dutch Indies, of Dutch parents. If those that have been before remain as trace-being, transforming the relations and sensitivities in “becoming” today, then what would it be to “re-member” them; our ancestors? What would it be: to feel their presence, secluded by absence? What would it be: to insist on the ancestry of all/our sensorial life?
Within the habitat of (post-)cartesian knowledge production, those very ancestors and trace-beings are often re- (or rather dis-) membered by structures of representational containment and knowledge-without-feeling; desensitising life to life’s past; concluding history in binaries and isolated movements; disconnecting “being” from intergenerational sensation and intercultural processes of sense-making; foreclosing an authentic “ability to respond.”
This thesis complicates some of the habits and pressures of epistemological containment, tracing into respective ontologies, tremoring additions implicated in “touch.” Touch: an entanglement of (at least) two multiplicities. What can touch bring to intersectional and anti-colonial thinking — and vice versa?
This thesis focuses on embodied intersections of specifically feminist, colonial and queer inheritance, departing from a lived and certain point: skin of the author against their grandmother’s bronze. The critical urgency is a non-binary and non-innocent mode of relating. Two strategies emerge: polyrhythmic attention and representational partiality.


DAI Art Praxis, ArtEZ University of the Arts
Supervisor: Amit S. Rai

(send me an email if you’re interested)