My Oma: Show and Tell

Free Entrance

Artist’s talks, lectures, and performances take place inspired by personal grandmother stories, as well as by ideas, objects, or traditions inherited by their grandmothers or passed on through generations.

Friday 8 December 2023, 5 – 9 pm

5 pm
Laure Prouvost, Here Her Heart Hovers, 2023

GRANDMA, soft feminine.
Hidden but with strong vision,
carries with her the past of the
past of her past,
made of so many experiences
crossing through a century,
Likes making teapots and tapestry
to tell stories and her point of view
on things,
loved by many.

Known for her immersive and mixed-media installations that combine film and installation in humorous and idiosyncratic ways, the work of French artist Laure Prouvost addresses miscommunication, and ideas becoming lost in translation. Playing with language as a tool for the imagination, Prouvost is interested in confounding linear narratives and expected associations among words, images, and meaning. She combines existing and imagined personal memories with artistic and literary references to create complex film installations that muddy the distinction between fiction and reality.

For My Oma’s Show & Tell, Prouvost explores ideas of the grandmother as both a real and imagined social matriarch by gathering and exchanging stories of grandmothers of all kinds around a campfire at Kunstinstituut Melly. This work can be read as an extension of the body of work around the figure of the oma, the nana, the grandma, that the artist has developed recently.

6:30 pm
Ola Hassanain, Watching Debris, 2023

Grandmother always told us to watch the cracks.

Watching Debris is the latest work in a cycle of installation, photography, and research for the Sudanese artist Ola Hassanain. The piece connects the mass-modernization of the agricultural Gezira Scheme in 1920s Sudan with the disintegration of the artists’ grandmother’s house this year, due to cracks produced by the draining of water tables. The work reflects on the cyclical nature of catastrophe through waves of modernization and colonization across the world, and how this contradicts ideas of linear growth. The work is a punctuation in Hassanain’s ongoing investigation into forms and mechanisms of the physical and ecological “emptying” of the spaces we inhabit, namely through urbanization and globalization. How can we take back our claim to “built form” in order to resist or even rebel against these systemic removals?

In her presentation for My Oma’s Show & Tell, the artist’s research references the architectural forms for water control through canals of irrigation in the Gezira Scheme of Khartoum. This work captures and thinks through the impact of water-flow deviations and traces left behind on clay soil – mainly in her grandmother's house, located inside the Scheme. The house is currently exhibiting irreparable cracks due to the jeopardized state of the soil. Watching Debris, through photographs and a live presentation, Hassanain conjures her grandmother’s house as a resonant site, amid cyclical patterns of emptying and evacuation.

Saturday 9 December, 2 – 6 pm

2 pm
Maria Pask with her daughter Liv Kluiters, her twin sister Helena Maitland, and Paul Wilkinson, an adult she parents, milde vänner/gentle friends, 2023

Mormor’s swear word was “milde vänner” which means “gentle friends”

Maria Pask is an Amsterdam-based artist whose performance and installation works interpret the nature of collective creativity, empowerment, and the live moment. Working with open formats and social structures, her works take the form of drawings, paintings, performances, and textiles that often come together in installations.

For My Oma’s Show & Tell, Pask is joined by family members – her daughter, Liv, her sister, Helena, and an adult she parents, Paul – in a performance reflecting on the legacy of preparing for death in Sweden. This custom, Dödstädning (in English, ‘cleaning up death’) is something that greatly preoccupied Pask’s Swedish grandmother, Thora Stork. She dedicated herself with great enthusiasm to bequeathing everything she possibly could, from her prized recipes, core values, and cautionary tales, to her tea towels, and a wooden spoon.

Pask became especially interested in how, in the absence of monetary wealth, her grandmother’s primary offering was her ethos of service. Inspired by this, together the family host a fika (a Swedish concept and state of mind that refers to making time for friends and colleagues to share a cup of tea, coffee, and a little something to eat). Maria and her twin sister, Helena, serve a selection of their grandmother’s Swedish cookies, baked by their mother, Gunilla Pask, while Paul, inspired by Thora Stork’s love of ghost stories, reads gory extracts from his book The Mosquito Could Not Suck Blood.

2:30 pm
Yoeri Guépin with Fung K. Leung Wong, Gardens, 2023

I find oma in many people.

Yoeri Guépin is a visual artist, researcher, and passionate gardener based in Rotterdam. His projects are long- term and collaboratively oriented, involving experimental forms of care, working with embodied knowledge, storytelling, and ecosystems at the margins. His experience of being brought up at a biodynamic farm, and helping his parents in the fields from a young age, led to an interest in (agri)cultural histories. Mrs. Wong is a fellow gardener and Chinese herbal medicine expert. After moving to Rotterdam in the 1970s from Shenzhen, China, she started a garden in the city, where she continued growing and preserving medicinal plants that had been local to her in Shenzhen. She has been sharing a garden with Guépin for the last three years.

For My Oma’s Show & Tell, Guépin and Mrs. Wong will have a conversation about their shared passion for gardening. Their exchange will be facilitated, for the first time, by a Cantonese/Dutch translator. With language barriers making it difficult to engage in conversation, this is the first time their exchanges will be aided by a translator. Throughout the years they have known each other, Mrs. Wong has been teaching Guépin about different Chinese medicinal plants and their uses through notes in their shared garden, passing down her knowledge to the next generation. As Guépin’s late grandmother also grew medicinal plants, the exchange, and care they show for each embodies the caring relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren. During their conversation, they will reflect on the garden throughout the years, and invite participants to try one of Mrs. Wong’s recipes.

3 pm
Asa Seresin, Your Arms in His Sink, 2023

My grandmother was my grandfather’s cleaner – that is how they met.

Writer, researcher, and critic Asa Seresin remarks that his grandparents ended up more divorced than they had ever been married. They met in their line of work; Seresin’s grandmother had been her grandfather’s cleaner and, as such, a labor contract preexisted their romantic relationship, which never crystallized into a legal marriage. A marriage relationship, Marxist-feminist critics of romance have argued, shrouds what is usually an exploitative labor relation under a veil of obscurity. As the 1970s feminist slogan proclaimed: “It starts when you sink into his arms, and ends with your arms in his sink.” Seresin’s grandparents’ love story moved the other way around. It started with her arms in his sink and ended with other arms, other sinks.

For My Oma’s Show & Tell, Seresin presents Your Arms in His Sink. Beginning with the story of his grandparents, the artist explores the ongoing relevance of the Marxist-feminist critique of romance, while also probing its limits. Marital ceremonies involve vows to care for and support one another, but such promises are both nonspecific and unenforceable – that is, until the moment of divorce. Looking from the perspective of divorce allows a new insight by stripping away the idealizing and mystifying operations of romantic love. What can be determined about the ethics of labor and love when we start with this compromised object?

3:30 pm
Amanda Moström with Ruby Wroe, Greta and Enid, 2023, courtesy the artist.

Mormor and many friends

Amanda Moström is an artist living and working between London, UK and Ålbo, Sweden, whose practice lies at the intersection of object making, photography, and creating sites of interaction. Her work takes a strong interest in interdisciplinary exchanges and playfully engages with family archives.

In this work produced for My Oma’s Show & Tell, she has collaborated with fellow artist Ruby Wroe. The work consists of a newly written text and a collection of quotes by Wroe that are directly informed by conversations between her and her Moström. In response, Moström has created an eclectic collection from her grandmother Greta’s archives of photographs and handwritten letters, as well as mobile phone footage of Greta. Together, this tactile and performative presentation seeks to locate the unique relationship that grandmothers have with their grandchildren.

4 pm
Sara Sallam, When Her Lighthouse Was Shining, 2023

Nena also talked to plants. I wonder if, in my walk, I came across a tree that she spoke to in her youth.

Sara Sallam is an Egyptian multidisciplinary artist, publisher, and educator based in the Netherlands. Her research-based practice includes photography, film, writing, voice narration, archival interventions, and self-publishing handmade books. Her work focuses on the retelling of history by imagining counter-narratives and exploring fiction as ways to reclaim and decolonize her ancient Egyptian heritage.

For My Oma’s Show & Tell, Sallam retraces her grandmother’s childhood in Port Said, Egypt. When her grandmother was growing up there, the city was a melting pot for a multinational community, prospering in the trade and tourism that resulted from the passing of ships. Sallam remembers her grandmother telling her about watching sunsets at the lively port, eating ice cream at the Swiss restaurant, dancing in casinos, and spending time at the family’s beach house. Her grandmother never talked, however, about the British troops stationed at the canal, the French, and Italian engineers who segregated the residents in designated neighborhoods, and what it was like to live under the control of the French and British colonial empires. In her artistic reading of postcards of the city, Sallam seeks to unearth the remnants of the city’s so-called golden era, while forming a more profound understanding of the youth of the girl who later became her beloved grandmother.

4:30 pm
Raimundas Malašauskas, The Dowery, 2023, courtesy the artist.

Baba spills the grid.

Raimundas Malašauskas is a curator and writer who lives and works in Brussels. He has a distinctively reflexive approach to writing and curating, drawing from various modes of communication. His questioning of the exhibition concept often results in unpredictable, playful projects. For My Oma’s Show & Tell, Malašauskas invites audiences to spend time with the multiple dimensions of a piece of linen cloth woven by his grandmother in 1936. The cloth has an intricate geometric grid and was prepared by Malašauskas’ grandmother from raw flax all the way through to the weaving of white thread.

The presentation is conceived in three parts. The first and second comprise a recorded conversation between Malašauskas’ mother Aldona and her long-time best friend, Zna, starting with the question; “how is linen produced?” The conversation evolves in two layers; one that brings to life the hand-making of linen, and the other which recalls a childhood amidst wartime, marked by memories of soldiers, looting, and death. These two realities cannot quite become one story, but coexist in a dreamlike shared reality. Here, Malašauskas revisits the linen together with a video projection made by Ona Julija Lukas Steponaityte for My Oma’s Show & Tell.

Sunday 10 December, 2 – 6 pm

2 pm
Melike Kara with Jeannel, Die Straße führt zu dir, 2023


Melike Kara is a visual artist who lives and works in Cologne. She works across various mediums, including painting, sculpture, and photography. Her artistic practice revolves around themes of displacement, marginalization, and exclusion, with a particular focus on amplifying the voices of those often overlooked and unheard. In 2019, Kara presented a solo exhibition of new work here on the second floor of Kunstinstituut Melly that was , in part, inspired, in part, by her relationship with her grandmother. Having emigrated from Turkey to Cologne, her grandmother kept their family’s Kurdish roots alive, imparting oral histories, rituals, and lullabies.

For My Oma’s Show & Tell, Kara returns to source material that had been central to her exhibition here at Kunstinstituut Melly – a recording of her grandmother singing a Kurdish lullaby. On this occasion, the artist has invited her life-long friend and musician, Jeannel, to create a new musical piece based on both the lullaby and Kara’s grandmother’s recording of it. The result is an exploration into the commonalities of two seemingly non-related ancestral lineages, layering the songs of both their grandmothers into a piece of its own. Die Straße führt zu dir (‘The road leads towards you’) was deliberately created as a vocal piece to honor the voices, songs, and stories of both grandmothers, paying tribute to what connects them: womanhood, sisterhood, resilience, strength, solidarity, friendship, and a longing for home; attributes mirrored in Jeanne’s and Kara’s bond. Commissioned specially for My Oma, the piece will be performed for the first time, accompanied by a video created by the artist.

3 pm
Charlie Koolhaas, Harriët Freezerstraat, 2023

I'm looking for my grandmother in every woman.

Charlie Koolhaas uses photography, architecture, and writing 'to create landscapes that tell stories', especially in and about places she dwells and visits. The artist grew up in London, and is based in Rotterdam. She is one of three Dutch artists especially commissioned to realize a photo-based project for My Oma; the other two artists are Liedeke Kruk and Stacii Samedin. For this exhibition, Koolhaas creates a body of work about her late grandmother, Wilhelmina Eybergen, better known in The Netherlands by her pseudonym Harriët Freezer.

Freezer passed away just before Koolhaas was born. For the past year, the artist has been learning about her grandmother’s life and work, her career and influence. In the process, she has gathered scrapbooks made by Freezer, as well as related materials, memorabilia, and oral histories gathered through interviews. Koolhaas has also been visiting cities and towns throughout the Netherlands that have streets named after her grandmother’s pseudonym. From the 1990s to date, sixteen different streets go after this namesake. Koolhaas visited all of these, and took portraits of women at each of the streets; at times they pose accompanied by a partner, friend or colleague.



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