Nominees Threshold Award Social Practices and BA Research Award (Ali)
Meet Ali Lucchinelli and Jasmijn van der Linden! Ali and Jasmijn are nominated for the 2021 Threshold Award Social Practices with their graduation project ‘Family Business, Because We’re Being Queer, Honey’. On top of that, Ali was also nominated for the 2021 BA Research Award. In this interview, the duo tells us about their work and future plans.
Can you tell us a bit about your graduation project and how it came about?
Ali: Our graduation project started in the first semester of the graduation year. We both followed the minor Cultural Diversity and we were given the assignment to create an archive starting from embodied knowledge and our own position as persons and makers. In our archive, we gathered material around lesbian representation in various forms. We started collecting material and symbols of lesbian history. But during that process, I started to identify it as non-binary, which led to project to change direction slightly.
Jasmijn: Indeed, the starting point of our graduation project was the archive in the minor. But then the archive changed to adapt to Ali's needs. After finishing the minor, when we both decided to continue with the project as a graduation project is when we changed it a little bit. I started focusing on developing the archive in a space, which is where my role as the curator came in. It is almost hard to imagine now, but when we were doing this it was January and the covid lockdown was in full swing. So the desire to be in a space together was becoming even more urgent. For me, personally, it had been such a long time since I had last been in a space with other queer people. That urgency really fueled my engine to go on and create this space.
The materialisation of our graduation project is an exhibition in the form of an expanded living room. It is a physical manifestation of our archive.
Ali: We also photographed almost 40 people, and there is a story behind each of the portraits. Because of Covid, we photographed everyone in their home, creating an intimate exchange and conversation. So there are many more layers to what you see.
Which themes or societal concerns are you addressing in your work, and how?
Ali: I think we address two different problems, but both under the same theme, I would say. I, as a photographer, am interested in the question of representation. And what it means to represent someone, and what kind of role representation has in society, which is really big. That was also my main research topic. In my research I collected interviews in which I speak with queer people about how they experienced growing up without rome models to look up to, and how that actually affected them. I believe this really influences you, because you cannot recognize yourself in something that is supposed to be ‘the norm’. So you are forced into the binary and heteronormative because you do not see other examples. That is also one of our reasons for creating this archive. Because we are here, we are queer.
Jasmijn: And I think our research topics intersect in a really nice way. Whereas Ali was interested in representation, I focussed on the spatial aspect. What does it mean to be in this space together? How can you care for each other by holding space for each other? And how can I use curating as a practice of care? That is what my thesis is mostly about. And the practical side of the project was about actually hosting this space. And how can you facilitate a queer space that adapts to people's needs? Because I can not assume everyone's needs for them. I hosted the space on behalf of Klauw, which is the queer and BIPOC collective that I am part of in Rotterdam. So it was taking place outside of the walls of the Academy, which really fit our project well.
What will you be working on in the near future? What are your next steps?
Ali: When we started this, we really wanted to create a bar or something like that. A casual place where people could stop by and have something to drink. So creating a real physical space where we could have the archive on display permanently would definitely be the next step. Also, we started our archive with photographs of our dear friends and chosen family, but it does not include the entire queer community in Rotterdam. There are many more people that we would like to photograph and include in the project.
Jasmijn: I think that by going to everyone's house and talking to them about our project, we feel extra motivated to do this, because everyone is expressing a desire for a queer space. I do not know if it is achievable in the near future, but anyway it is going to happen somewhere in the future. I can already envision it. I want it to have a garden so that we can grow our own food and to have housing on top so we can provide housing for people that really need it. And I want bingo nights for older queer people, a reading group and a queer knitting group. Besides that, I just started a Master in Art History to specify my knowledge so that I feel like I am ready to go into the curating field.
To read more about Ali and Jasmijn’s work, pay a visit to Ali’s Graduation Catalogue Page. Furthermore, their journey can be followed on Instagram (Ali’s Instagram, Jasmijn’s Instagram). The winner of the Threshold Award Social Practices will be announced during a festive ceremony as part of the Graduation Show. Keep an eye on our Graduation Show page for more information.