Vesna Faassen & Lukas Verdijk


Vesna Faassen (1986, NL) and Lukas Verdijk (1984, NL) work, in addition to their personal work, together on documentary projects within the medium of photography and/or video. Vesna Faassen (the Netherlands, 1986) studied psychology at the University of Nijmegen. She is currently based in Antwerp (Belgium) and is studying photography (Master) there at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. In 2012, she participated in BredaPhoto, an international photo festival in the Netherlands, with her video Barbara. Lukas Verdijk (the Netherlands, 1984) studied history at the HAN University of Applied Sciences and is also studying photography (Master) at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. Recently, Faassen and Verdijk got selected for .tiff Magazine, a publication by the Photomuseum of Antwerp (FoMu) promoting ten Young Belgian Talents. This magazine was launched at the UNSEEN Photo Fair in Amsterdam, September 2014.

For five years now, Vesna and Lukas have been working as an artist duo. Their collaboration began with a shared interest in photography’s relationship to culture and heritage. This interest was not surprisingly and directly influenced by their prior studies in psychology and history. Photography’s attraction as a medium, its historical connection to the production and fixation of identity, the politics of representation, power relations and debates over what exactly is pictured have inspired them.

Explorations of contemporary socially engaged art in relation to (post)colonial, cultural and photographic theory led to the development of our collaboration – which had the main focus in our residency at HISK. Currently, their work explores a central paradox in their culture : the excited denial of racism and colonial violence coexisting alongside aggressive racism and xenophobia.


Being Imposed Upon (work-in-progress)

With this current and collective book project 'being imposed upon', publiekeacties facilitates a literary platform for decolonisation from a feminine and afro-descendent perspective. One main goal during the Belgian colonisation of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi, was to embed patriarchal ideas into the native communities. This was an effective strategy. For that reason and within this project, we perceive the concept of decolonisation as a process that must include feminism to dismantle the unique oppression women of the colour face until today.

A committee of female Afro-Belgian decolonisation activists and thinkers; Heleen Debeuckelaere, Tracy-Bibo Tansia, Sabrine Ingabire, Modi Ntambwe, Anne Wetsi Mpoma and Gia Abrassart, focused on the question which feminist themes are underexposed in the decolonisation debate in Belgium and how these might be implemented in the book. The conversations are held around a small stage that functions as a table. This installation can be seen as a modular stage that will transform into a book in the years to come. The audience is invited to 'listen rhetorically' - i.e. to foster conscious identifications with decolonisation, gender and (non)whiteness in ways that may, in turn, facilitate cross-cultural exchange.

Heleen: ' is about externalising the historical cost, and the cost of remembrance to people who are actually not supposed to do that... to the victims of that oppression. So all of us around this table- all of us have done a lot of work to get things back on the agenda... We have written texts, brought about discussions about things happening around us, such as racism and the colonisation of the public space. But the interesting thing is actually that we shouldn't be doing this work. This work should be done by other people and the fact that we have to do it is a form of externalising the internal cost and a form of colonisation.'

Wetsi: 'I like this point, really...'

Modi: ' made my day!'

Tracy: 'I did not quite understand...'

Sabrine: 'The fact that we have to... that we, as victims, have to do this work, is also a form of colonialism. Because it is not up to us, and as you said, we could have been doing other things and even should have been doing other things... Instead, we are doing this.'

Heleen: 'It falls to us to do this work, but it should be the state and the educational system that should be doing it.'

Video part 1 is below and Links to part 2 and 3: Video 2, Video 3


As I said before, Borgerhout is a great place


The video shows residents of Borgerhout, a multi-ethnic neighbourhood in Antwerp (BE) where the process of gentrification is slowly starting to show itself. We interviewed the residents on their interpretation of words like ‘home’, ‘neighbourhood’, ‘change’ and ‘newcomer’ and recorded their responses. The residents then proceeded to create reenactments of these interviews in order to gain a clear path towards understanding one another’s perspective.

The film does not specifically indicate whether these voices are authentic and the answers in real time vs. a dialogue in which they are repeating a narrative that is being transcribed.

Artists often occupy a violating role in the development of gentrification. Attracted by cheap housing or ateliers in often multi-ethnic and exciting neighbourhoods, the arrival of artists transform the local district into a hip and appealing place to live removing the culture and agency from its original residence. In turn, this course of action inevitably attracts the wealthy who proceed to raise the rent and ultimately drive less fortunate out of their homes.

As artists, we are interested in exploring the interpretations of our roles as directors. Whose voices are we amplifying? The participant or the author? Who are you giving a platform to? Who is taking the lead?

With Ali, Arne & Chanel.