Writer and philosopher Simon(e) van Saarloos extends an Open Call to remember the current Corona era. The launch of this call is part of a research trajectory, initiated by TAAK, on alternative forms of commissioning art in the public domain. 

Everyone is invited to contribute a commemoration. All submitted memorials will become part of a growing body of performative work by Van Saarloos.

Open Call: How will we remember the Corona era?

If you think of the current moment, looking back from the future, what do you see, feel, touch, hear?

We encounter the present through graphs and charts, divided by country, showing an increase or decrease of death rates and IC intakes. But what is the story here, what is our experience of history? This Open Call invites you to remember the present in a different way than we are currently pushed to understand it.

In Western tradition, commemoration and history depend on selection and categorization. the spread of a mo(nu)ment will exist of your submitted monuments. There is no selection: all proposals will be honored and enacted. This memorial grows from a philosophy of abundance, proposing that there is enough space for all stories, that we do not have to select and dysselect.

Why do we need historical references to understand the present moment? Do we gain from understanding ourselves within a lineage? When people say we live in historic times, we expect to differentiate between one time and another. We identify a now and then, implying a timeline that can be defined by separate phases. Dates mark beginnings and endings.

Narrating the current moment as a historic event can contribute to a feeling of understanding, of agency – taming the chaotic illegibility of reality. At the same time, the enactment of your collection of monuments aims to question the demand for visibility and transparency in exchange for a promise of safety and security. The work that will be generated from your submissions will not attempt to better understand these ‘historic times’. Instead, your contribution demystifies and collectivizes the present. Focusing on our plural experiences is an act of disobedience against the  disaster politics in response to Covid-19.

Viewing our current time as history, disrupts the linear notion of time. Why wouldn’t we be able to commemorate the present? We can even remember a future that hasn’t happened yet: our anticipation and imagination of what could happen, also shapes and influences our lives.

Submit your memorial

We welcome you to submit a short story, description, an image, a ritual, score, choreography, song or any form you’d like. Your memorial will become part of a performative act in public space – a larger body of work – potentially ephemeral, potentially documented.

Please feel invited to submit your memorial at: monument@taak.me

When the file is larger than 12MB, we recommend sending it via a WeTransfer link.

You can submit by name or anonymously, but please provide your contact details so that we can keep you updated about the commemoration. The question of individual crediting in a collective work, will be taken up in the performative process.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to get in touch via info@taak.me.

the spread of a mo(nu)ment is a collaboration between Simon(e) van Saarloos and TAAK, Amsterdam.

Simon(e) van Saarloos (1990, Summit, New Jersey) is a writer and philosopher based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. They published several books in Dutch including a novel and a collection of columns. In Enz. Het Wildersproces, Van Saarloos shares a feminist and queer report of the trial against the Dutch right-wing politician Geert Wilders. To learn a bit more about this book, check out a recent essay on the Gezi Park Trial in Turkey. In Het monogame drama, Van Saarloos critiques monogamous living and false notions of safety, proposing a nonmonogamous love life and a different take on ownership and property. The book was recently translated into English and published by Publication Studio, titled Playing Monogamy. If you want to hear more about their philosophy of nonmonogamy, check out this conversation at the MultiAmory podcast.

Their most recent book, Herdenken herdacht, is a non-fiction work about queer forgetfulness, whiteness and embodied commemoration. You can watch an introduction to this book on IGTV, in a lecture on ‘Rewriting histories’ at The University of The Underground. Dutch speakers can view the book launch in Compagnietheater here.

Van Saarloos curates collaborations between artists, activists and scholars and regularly appears on stage as a lecturer, interviewer and performer.

TAAK researches, develops and realizes new forms of art in the public domain and alternative ways of commissioning. The image of the government as the primary commissioning authority of public art belongs to the past. Anyone can own the question that leads to an art project. TAAK consciously situates itself within that context by democratizing curatorship and providing expertise to face collective challenges. With its art projects, TAAK strives as much as possible for co-creation, sustainable structures and shared ownership – to make space public (again).

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