Patricia Kaersenhout: Proud Rebels
As in all western countries, black women in the Netherlands have long faced the daily realities of racism and sexism. In 1985 a relatively small group of women united themselves under the name of “zmv” women (an acronym for the Dutch words black, migrant and refugee) and founded their own organisation called Flamboyant. In retrospect, these women played an important role in the emancipation of black women, not only within the social fabric of the Netherlands but also far abroad.
Kaersenhout portrays these “zmv” women under the title Proud Rebels (Dutch: Rebelse Trots) as an homage to this early black emancipatory movement. At the heart of the show is a series of nine large portraits that hang in a row along the main gallery walls, echoing a conventional 19th century hall of honour. The works were produced for a presentation in 2015 at the CBK Zuid Oost in the Bijlmer, a part of Amsterdam where a large group of people relocated to after Suriname gained its independence.
Kaersenhout is one of the few artists in the Netherlands who takes black activism as an artistic point of departure. Through her work she brings a new awareness about black emancipation— not only dealing with the consequences of and response to the legacy of the Dutch colonial period, but also addressing more current developments associated with migrants coming from Africa. The reception of her work coincides with a political wave of emancipation among younger activists and artists of colour in the Netherlands. Kaersenhout works across a wide range of media and forms and often collaborates with others, resulting in public performances and public art projects as well as studio work.
Recent (solo-) exhibitions and performances include: gHoltegaard (DK) and Museum Arnhem (NL) in 2017; Bell invites: Global Performance at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, BE.BOP at the Volksbühne Berlin, and Van Abbe Museum Eindhoven (NL) in 2016; Biennale Dakar and Framer Framed, Amsterdam in 2014; Queens Museum of Art, New York and the Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Art (MoCADA), New York in 2012. Kaersenhout has an upcoming group show at Prospect.4 New Orleans and a solo show at Cargo in Context in Amsterdam (1 September -22 October).