Artist Talk with Clémence Lollia Hilaire and Simnikiwe Buhlungu, moderated by Melanie Bühler, curator contemporary art Frans Hals Museum
Clémence Lollia Hilaire’s and Simnikiwe Buhlungu’s works that they have created as part of this project both deal with how knowledge, information and power structures are transmitted and translated. Hilaire’s Average price of a free life in 1863 consists of 115 Dutch guilders that are spread throughout the exhibition space. The visitors are free to pick up the coins and take them home. The guilders are dated to 1863, the year slavery was abolished in Suriname and the Dutch Antilles. For each freed slave, slaveowners received compensation: 300 guilders for an adult, 115 guilders for a child. By distributing 115 guilders in the exhibition space for visitors to pick up, Hilaire is effectively giving back to the Dutch public their money (and history).Recorded in July 2021, Buhlungu’s flight (tswee). dance (tswee) is an audio recording of honeybees in flight: at work, possibly in-between play, in orientation, and dance. A theremin (an electronic musical instrument) has been used to translate the flying bees’ movement into sound. The resulting soundscape honors the intricate ecosystem of honeybees and their ways of sharing knowledge with each other. It reminds us that there are ways of sharing information and knowledge beyond those that we, as human beings, commonly use to communicate with each other, and that our way of being in the world is but one among so many other species and life forms, each their own forms of living, behaving, and communicating.
Clémence Lollia Hilaire is an artist from Guadeloupe. She looks at types of displacement and the resulting complex processes of identity formation, primarily in the context of the Caribbean and its diaspora. She uses sculpture and moving image, and sometimes other gestures, as means to create sets of references and open-ended associations on those matters. Investigating diverse phenomena—historical and social, human, and non-human—whose common quality is to make evident the contingency of cultural productions that result in a sense of self, she attempts to transform matter into metonymies, to unravel moments of slippage, and to challenge the limits of purity and essentialism. Hilaire is currently based in Amsterdam.
Simnikiwe Buhlungu is an artist from Johannesburg. She is currently studying at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam (2020–22), and previously obtained a BA in Fine Arts at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (2017). Interested in knowledge production(s)—how they are produced, by whom, and how they are disseminated—Buhlungu locates socio-historical and everyday phenomena by meandering through these questions and their inexhaustible answers. Recent engagements include The Milk of Dreams, 59th Venice Biennale (2022); Territories Between Us, Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town (2021); and Tomorrow is a Different Day, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2021). Buhlungu lives and works between and through Amsterdam and Johannesburg.