For many Dutch people Saint Nicolas, including black pete, is a tradition that is related to warm childhood memories and a sense of belonging to Dutchness. However, for a growing group of opponents it brings up memories of the colonial past, it is a form of blackface and it symbolizes institutional racism and structural inequality in contemporary society. Over the past decades people have voiced their concern about the tradition in different ways, from protests to petitions, from intense debates to open dialogues. There has been a shift and change Is gradually happening, but the “black pete debate” continues to be a heated debate.
Traditionally art has been an important tool of resistance. Art has been an expression of what happens in society but also a source of inspiration for social movements. Art can reach and connect individuals and communities on levels that other forms of communication can’t and art has often allowed the voiceless to be heard. During the event “Black Pete belongs in the museum” we will investigate the role of art and the artist in social change and in the Black Pete debate in particular.
Documentary maker Bibi Fadlalla and visual artist will show some of their artistic work and we will have an open dialogue between the artists and the public. In addition, we will have a panel discussion and collective reflection about racism, inequality and the social movement against racism and black pete and the Netherlands around “the future of the movement against black pete”.
Patricia Kaersenhout is a visual artist from Amsterdam. She has studied social studies at
the Amstelhorn Amsterdam and Fine Arts at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy Amsterdam. Born
in the Netherlands but a descendant from Surinamese parents, she developed an artistic
journey in which she investigates the meaning of invisibility as a consequence of the African
Diaspora and colonialism in relation to her upbringing in a West European culture. The
political thread in her work raises questions about the African Diaspora movements and it’s
relation to feminism, sexuality, racism and the history of slavery.
Bibi Fadlalla is a freelance documentary filmmaker and TV journalist based in Amsterdam,
the Netherlands. She holds a Master's degree in Media Studies (UvA) and graduated from
the Documentary Media Studies Program in New York (New School). Bibi has worked for
several Dutch television programmes: NTR Podium, Vals Plat, De Halve Maan and Dichtbij
Nederland. She produced the documentary “Zwarte Piet en ik” in 2013” about zwarte piet
and her personal quest across the country, in search of the historical background of this
character. In 2016 she released the documentary “Dat Haar” about 12 year old Kaylee who
was adopted from Lesotho and her hair. Being the only girl in her hometown who has nappy
hair she struggles to embrace it.
Registration needed: Register here for the documentary