Drempelprijs Autonomous Practices
Second Bachelor Research Award
Here is an experimental visual poem, inviting people to occupy the Black Body and step into the lived Black experience for just a brief moment. Combining film, animation, photography, and archival footage Here explores what blackness means to me. As well as what it might mean to others.
What initially started off as visual research for my animated film, called It's Nice in Here, dealing with police brutality and growing up black, resulted in a year-long exploration of why I felt the need to make that film in the first place. It forced me to question and confront my own blackness. As well as cope with the hurt that I had buried deep inside of me. Acknowledging and accepting one's own blackness always seems to come with some punches.
I wouldn't want to be anywhere else but here.
Because of the massive scope of It's Nice in Here, I decided to scale down the project, for now, to work on something more manageable. Here hopefully serves as a good introduction to my larger project, dealing with the same subject manner in a more experimental and free-flowing way, while simultaneously showing the steps that I took to eventually get there.
In the last year, I traveled to Los Angeles to talk to members from #BlackLivesMatter; I did an Ancestry test, resulting in me flying off to Ghana and Benin, just to see if I would feel at home in this place where my ancestors used to reside; I directed an Afro-Futuristic Musical film with young talented Afro-Europeans, and for my Minor, I did an entire project juxtaposing blackness and whiteness.
All of these steps have been monumental in shaping my graduation project. I feel like Here provided me with a good opportunity to reflect on the research I had already done, am currently in the process of doing, as well as looking forward to the research that still lies ahead of me.
This journey has had its ups and downs, but I hope to continue with this search for myself and an identity and getting rid of this feeling of incessant in-betweenness. But what I have learned is that, although there might still be so many unresolved questions and unaddressed hurt within the skin, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else but here.
Jury Drempelprijs Autonomous Practices: "In his experimental poem ‘I wouldn't want to be anywhere else but here’ Robert-Jonathan Koeyers invites the viewer to embody the black body. The work can be positioned in different localities, and in the Dutch context, it would both be thought-provoking and inspiring. The work connects the personal to the political and Robert-Jonathan showed his vulnerability in the process of creating this work. Robert-Jonathan did extensive research, talked to activists and other people and the result is a consistent, poetic, visuals and sonic experience. There is a lot of potential for Robert-Jonathan when he continues connecting his work to the discourse of diversity and decolonization. We are excited to see you building a network and claiming your space as an animator and artist. We encourage you to bring this installation in new contexts out of the art school and to experiment with the curatorial aspects of your installation."