The Official Apology Of Hogeschool Rotterdam
A wall text, vinyl cut-out letters on white wood. 210x180cm
- After censoring students for being vocal about their stance in solidarity with Palestine, This work imagines an alternative reality of the Hogeschool Rotterdam response. A curatorial text hijacked and written by Diana Al-Halabi at the graduation of MFA at Piet Zwart Institute.
Graduation Show 2020-2021
Text by Hogeschool Rotterdam/WDKA/PZI
While our educational team and curators were in the process of putting together this graduation show of the MFA students at Piet Zwart Institute, our students in the Karel Doormanhof building were trying to protest a cause as crucial as life itself. We responded “we see you, we hear you” while we were in fact practicing surveillance as we acted blind.
The modes of response we adopted were undoubtedly bureaucratic and at times were identical to state policing. Under the guise of a care economy, we forcibly confiscated banners, censored students, invited them to Kafkaesque meeting conditions. We covertly assumed that time will tire everyone, demands will naturally die off, and we’ll eventually get back to normal.
While trying to preserve our “white innocence” as Gloria Wekker puts it, we failed to embody the token we claim to represent. We claimed to be inclusive while we were in reality only tolerant, and to be tolerant is to endure, however, endurance was never a synonym for inclusivity.
In the past month, we have learned from our students that change comes if we learn how to employ our privileges to help those who are oppressed and marginalized. Therefore, allow us to use this graduation show as a platform to voice a public apology to our students for censoring them, to our tutors for making them doubt their role in teaching decolonial theory.
And to Palestinian people all over the world we say, forgive us, we are late.
Hence, we announce our endorsement of the “Palestine Solidarity Statement” written by the Graduate Gender Programme at Utrecht University. We commit from this day forth, to be anti-colonial in practice and management as much as in theory, and to push higher authorities to endorse a BDS policy. We wish our students a graduation full of pride, and a future full of change.