“Haunting, by contrast, is the relentless remembering and reminding that will not be appeased by settler society’s assurances of innocence and reconciliation. Haunting is both acute and general; individuals are haunted, but so are societies.”

— Eve Tuck & C. Ree in ‘A Glossary of Haunting’. (p. 642, 2013)

“haunting” is a porous and unfolding project towards an anti-colonial praxis. it is an ever-ripening somatic, spiritual and intellectual endeavour to develop the tools and vocabulary that enable me to engage with the ghosts of coloniality and allow me to commune, transform and learn alongside ancestors and descendants. this research formally began in 2017 when i relocated from cape town to berlin. residing in a colonial “centre” as opposed to a “periphery” provided me with new perspectives of structural global injustices and the very different ways in which we are haunted by the horrors of modernity. it became an urgent imperative to learn how to comprehend imperial thinking and colonial legacy; to keep this legacy close and closely scrutinized – for that seems to be one of the more effective ways of apprehending its habits of oppression.

this weird, time-looping project consists of large and small actions that take me and my other selves to strange and useful places. it is not always comprehensible or recognizable but art seems to be the most effective container for this type of undoing through doing (or doing through undoing).

feel free to click into the photo galleries and videos, or press the ‘plus signs’ to read more about the projects below.

haunting with venus (2022)

this performance-in-process began during one-month long “Made in Berlin” residency at Lake Studios Berlin. the piece used simple props and embodied practices of clowning/fooling/creeping to make a humorously critical and tragi-comic emulation of masculinity. to read and check out my documentation during my residency, go here.

venus nest (2021-2022)

venus nest was a forty-two day devotional dance practice dedicated to planet Venus during its retrograde period from 19 dec 2021 to 29 jan 2022. every day during this period i performed a twenty-minute dance with and in a particular dress. this practice informed my research during my time as a “Fellow” during the Bodies (un)protected programme at Künstler*innenhaus Mousonturm. in the essay that i contributed for the accompanying reader for this program, i wrote the following about this practice:

to train myself to perceive beyond-through colonial thinking, i have a variety of different games/experiments/relationships going on with a variety of different people, animals, plants, objects and entities – such as planets. for example, for the past several months i have embarked on a series of specifically timed devotional dances to the planet we call “Venus”. in traditional Hellenistic astrology, Venus is considered to denote diplomacy, binding, peace or harmony. Venus is often associated with coming together. since apartheid (apart-ness) is a major character in the genetic narrative of my ancestry and lineage, i have been spending fugitive time with Venus in seriously playful ways. i share with you below, some of my findings/learnings that have emerged from these devotional dances with Venus

advice from Venus for thinking around something:

eat your prayers / come face to face with your sex organ / let your tongue play (or) speak in tongues / locate each scar / relinquish accumulation / spread knowledge / be double-hearted / find the unpretentious door / list the incompatible temporal patterns / muddle the books / film the mirror / walking circles, let different parts lead / perform an orgasm to move the shame-pleasure / look the divinity of your ass in mirror / just lie there / hold your pelvis in your palm and listen / smell your whole body / tend to your underneath / sway gently for 15 minutes / fall over and allow a movement to catch you / dedicate a dance to Trust / turn your hand into an ear and listen / observe the beauty of all your little thingies / list the different loves / grind and thrust your grief / seduce yourself / kindly touch whatever is swollen / plan a surprise / find other faces in the mirror / consider that the stuck may be how you get to the next step.

how to be haunted (2021)

this small screenshot is all i have left of the nine-month long research project “how to be haunted”. (not really but sort of. i made a zine, which i will soon upload). the research project had two components: an online reading group which took place pretty regularly for about 9 months whereby myself and other artists and colleagues would read discuss decolonial scholarship and texts together. the second component comprised of a private somatic exploration around nine different topics, which transformed into a ritualized game of turning these somatic explorations into a letter that i mailed to nine individuals. you can find these letters here.

this research project was funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media in the programme
NEUSTART KULTUR, Dis-Tanz-Solo of the Dachverband Tanz Deutschland.

i'm haunting you now (2019)

hand in hand, you walk silently with a stranger through a forest. a black tent approaches and you are invited to crawl inside. in the small space, you encounter an old and out-dated globe, seemingly held by two white hands. the sound of earth shuffling. the stranger enters the tent and offers to sing you a song. the song is sung and together you sit in a moment of silence, witnessing presence.

this was a one-on-one durational performance installation created for the Antidote Movement Festival in the Netherlands whereby i re-worked my graduation piece into a different form. the piece aimed to continue (or start) conversations around colonial haunting. through an intimate and gentle exchange between myself and individuals, i facilitated a ritual of recognition and mourning through song, silence and walking; inviting my personhood to be considered as a living artefact of colonial history, particularly Dutch colonial history.

the exchange lasted between 15-20 minutes, and was performed for about thirty people. the piece ran for ten hours in total on the 28th and 29th of June, 2019 at the Van Heerman Arts Centre in Soest, as a part of the Antidote Movement Festival.

paper choir (zine 2019)

this zine was offered at the durational performance installation “i’m haunting you now” in 2019. it contains quotes from decolonial theory that contributed to the research behind the work, featuring the invisible voices of certain thinkers who have shaped my work and ongoing song. for a pdf or hard copy of this publication, please contact me at: nicola.van.straaten(at)gmail.com.

i'm haunting you now video (2018)

through appropriating the imperial tactic of pronunciation and erasure, this 13-minute film offers a painstaking and poetic attempt at reflecting the ghostly utterances of how words can become and un-become and how language shapes the world.

this video originally formed the middle section of the performance “i’m haunting you now” made in 2018. for the performance, the video was projected onto a 15m long and 5m high black curtain, across the stage of a black box theatre with the 4-channel soundtrack played through speakers positioned in each corner of the room.

written and edited by: Nicola van Straaten

sound design by: Coila-Leah Enderstein 

i'm haunting you now (2018)

an old globe, two white mannequin hands and a large, dimly lit stage shrouded in layers of black curtains. the 45 minute solo speaks to the uncomfortable silences around colonial history and the presence of the ghosts that remain.

“i’m haunting you now” formed part of the master’s thesis that concluded my MA in Solo / Dance / Authorship. with this research i attempted to embody the paralyzing and monstrous feelings around my own lineage and my current context of living in berlin. activated by the study of decolonial theory and aggravated by the lack of feeling or discussion around the effects that the european project of modernity has/had on the planet, this work was seeded from a desire to interrogate the gaps, become familiar with discomfort and work with and from a certain anguish, mourning and (out)rage. accompanying the piece, was a small booklet handed out to every audience member, offering context and insight into the work. to see extracts of this work, click here:


performed at:
Uferstudios, Studio 14

28 & 29 November 2018, Berlin

choreographed & performed by: Nicola van Straaten

dramaturgy: Coila-Leah Enderstein and Lena Astarte Posch

sound design: Coila-Leah Enderstein

light design: Bryan Schall

photographs: Marc Seestaedt

i'm haunting you now zine (2018)

this is the small booklet that was offered at the conclusion of the 2018 performance of “i’m haunting you now”. the text breaks down elements of the piece, offering insights and quotations that contribute to understanding the context around the work. for a pdf copy of this zine, please email me at nicola.van.straaten(at)gmail.com.