Nominee Threshold Award Social Practices
Meet Julian Crestian! Julian was nominated for the 2021 Threshold Award Social Practices with his graduation project ‘Kompa Nansi i e Cucko den su toren’ (Anansi and the cuckoo in their tower). In this interview, Julian tells us about his work and future plans.
Can you tell us a bit about your graduation project and how it came about?
My graduation project started as a response to something that happened in my personal life. In my previous house, my ex-roommates and I experienced quite a dangerous situation due to a gas leak. Shortly after the leak, I received a letter that my landlord at the time was terminating the lease. They did not have a good reason to do so, I could have started a legal case, however, I did not have time, money, or resources to do so.
My graduation work is a reflection on personal and social aspects of living in a time of precarity within this capitalist post-colonial society. It is a written proposal for a performance that tells a story about a character that is told to leave the space he inhabits, who then tricks this person into offering the space to somebody else he is pretending to be. To come up with the characters I used references to trickster figures in mythology. One is based on a figure called Reinaert de Vos, who shows up in Dutch folktales. And the other traces back to a figure called Anansi the spider, who is often described to trick people into giving him what he wants. Anansi shows up in cultures connected to the African diaspora and the transatlantic slave trade. Because I share both the Dutch and the Curaçaoan heritage, I wanted to depict both identities and cultures in the story. I also wanted to bring in the idea of an artistic practice built around using the trickster to define the norm. Tricksters are defined in the same way that people who are othered tend to be, for example, people from Curaçao, black people, LGBT people, and so on. I will be working on the piece in collaboration with a fellow student, Leomar Imperator.
Which themes or societal concerns are you addressing in your work, and how?
The themes I address include precarity, colonialism, power relationships, and ideology. My aim with the story is to be able to tell it to anybody. The story is a bit simple, and I think that is not a bad thing. By looking at the subject without its labels, I hope people consider looking at things differently. When using charged words such as socialism, people will often start making assumptions. I try to involve them through amalgamations of Anansi, an African figure, and Reinaert, a Dutch or European figure.
What will you be working on in the near future? What are your next steps?
I definitely want to keep working with Leomar. We will be developing this work further. Besides that, I want to continue writing stories about Anansi, and working with the method I used to bring in different themes. I want to interact with people using this system, for example through role-play exercises. I have always been interested in pedagogy in one way or another and would like to explore these ideas further through that.
I have also been working with the Office for Inclusivity at Willem de Kooning. I would like to be more involved with that to make the academy a more inclusive place.
To read more about Julian’s work, pay a visit to his Graduation Catalogue Page. Furthermore, his journey can be followed on Instagram and Facebook. 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.