“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 with my ancestors. this research formally began in 2017 when i relocated from cape town to berlin. during this time i began the journey of actively reckoning with my colonial lineage and engaging my identity as a white euro-descended settler of south african nationality. as i began to experience the ways in which myself (and all of us) are haunted by the horrors of modernity, it became an urgent imperative to learn how to comprehend colonial legacy; to keep this legacy close and closely scrutinized – for that seems to be the most effective way to apprehend its habits of oppression.
feel free to click into the photo galleries and videos, or press the ‘plus signs’ to read more about the projects below.
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.
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:
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.
reflecting on “i’m haunting you now”
this was a lecture-film presented at the 34th Annual South African Visual Arts Historian Association Conference, ‘Speaking with ghosts: Hauntology, memory, nostalgia and other ways of engaging with past/present/future’ (2019).
the film tracks certain thoughts i was having in 2019, regarding the two performances i had recently made. in this film i reflect on colonial lineage, performance healing, haunting and depression.