Reinventing the Postcolonial Self

The Nordic House, Tórshavn
May 13, 2006

This spoken word/performance/music event introduced artists, who use language and performance to reformulate identity and experience. Their work resists dominant, categorical models for the personal, the social, and the political and illustrated how these models relate to colonial legacies today. Simultaneous interpretation was available throughout the event.

Click here for video summaries of the different acts in the event

Participating Artists / Performers / Musicians

Anida Yoeu Esguerra (Cambodia/USA)
Imani Henry (The Caribbean/USA)
Jane Jin Kaisen & Tobias Hübinette (South Korea/Denmark & South Korea/Sweden)
200 (The Faroe Islands)

Spoken Word/Performance/Music Event Program

Introduction to the spoken word/performance/music event by Kuratorisk Aktion (Curators of Rethinking Nordic Colonialism). (2:19 min.)

“(Dis)ComfortAN(d)AlieNation: The X-Raced Mut(at)ed Speak,” a multimedia performance written and performed by Jane Jin Kaisen (Interdisciplinary artist and activist based in Copenhagen, Denmark) & Tobias Hübinette (Lecturer and Researcher in contemporary Korean culture and society. Ph.D. in Korean Studies from Stockholm University, Sweden). (61:03 min.)

“On The Cusp of Phoenix Rising,” a poetry and performance piece written and performed by Anida Yoeu Esguerra (Multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary artist based in Chicago, USA). (26:34 min.)

“Living in the Light & B4T (before testosterone),” a multimedia theater piece written and performed by Imani Henry (activist, writer, and performer based in New York, USA). (36:37 min.)

Live concert with 200 (Pro-independence punk-rock band based in Tórshavn, The Faroe Islands). (29:43 min.)

DJ session with HYDROXYBROMIDE. (DJ duo from Jakarta, Indonesia. The duo counts members from the Indonesian artists’ initiative and collaborative platform, Ruangrupa). (5:38 min.)

Born 1973 in Cambodia. Lives and works in Chicago, USA

Anida Yoeu Esguerra seeks an artistic, spiritual, and political exploration of her identity as a non hyphenated Cambodian Muslim American woman. Esguerra is a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary artist who believes in pushing artistic and political boundaries. She creates art that mixes the visual, spoken, and written into performed investigations of hybrid identities. She is interested in using performance work as a means to transform losses into conversations about healing and understanding. She is a founding member of the critically acclaimed panAsian American spoken word quartet, I Was Born With Two Tongues, as well as Mango Tribe, an Asian American women’s performance ensemble. Esguerra tours extensively in North America with recent international performances in Delhi, Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh, and Chiang Mai. Esguerra is co-editor of Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, 2003) and ForeWord Magazine’s Gold Book of the Year. In 2002, Esguerra was recognized by PoliticalCircus.com as one of the thirty most influential Asian Pacific Americans 30 years of age or younger. Esguerra’s continued cultural work within the development of dialogue concerning social justice and human rights earned her Insight Arts’ Creative Movements Award for Spoken Word/Poetry. Esguerra is currently embarking on an international tour of “Living Memory/Living Absence,” an interdisciplinary performance/installation that explores memory, exile, and the pain of these experiences within the bodies of Cambodian genocide survivors. She aches for home, a good pair of ass-kicking shoes, and poetry by Audre Lorde. She is proud to call Chicago home but knows the journey never really ends for the refugee. For more information, visit www.atomicshogun.com. [Anida Yoeu Esguerra]

Anida Yoeu Esguerra participated in Act 3‘s public event with the performance “On The Cusp of Phoenix Rising,” which was a combination of poetry and performance with one mic, one stage, and one wall. The act has been described in the following words: “This show is a collection of Esguerra’s poetry and performance works. The show is an arsenal of work ranging from her most fierce poems to her most vulnerable monologues; from raw spoken word favorites such as 'Excuse Me, AmeriKa' and 'The Day After 9/11' to the experimental fusion of poetry, video, and sound in 'In Time of War.' Esguerra also performs excerpts from her recent show 'Living Memory/Living Absence,' an interdisciplinary exploration of memory, exile, and the pain of these experiences within the bodies of Cambodian genocide survivors. Whether through humor, wit, anger, or just honest storytelling, 'On the Cusp of Phoenix Rising' is a reflection of Esguerra’s hybrid cultural experiences as she struggles to find the juncture of her artistic, spiritual, and political identities.” [Anida Yoeu Esguerra] To download manuscript from performance, click PDF here.


Anida Yoeu Esguerra performing “On The Cusp of Phoenix Rising” in the Nordic House, Tórshavn. Photo: © Allan Broekie. Courtesy of the artist

Born in the Caribbean. Lives and works in New York, USA

Imani Henry is a Caribbean female-to-male transsexual activist, writer, and performer.

Since 1993, he has been a Staff Organizer at the International Action Center (IAC), where his work has focused on national organizing of communities of color and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender movement toward broader social justice campaigns. His anti-war activism has ranged from opposing US military inventions in Iraq, Haiti, Somalia, and Yugoslavia to fighting to end the economic blockade of Cuba. He has worked nationally within the anti-police brutality and anti-death penalty movement in the US. He co-founded Rainbow Flags for Mumia, a coalition of LGBTST people who demand the freedom of political prisoner and journalist Mumia Abu Jamal. For the last 10 years, Henry has worked as an HIV/AIDS education and prevention service provider, directing and supervising HIV prevention street outreach initiatives in the cities of Boston and New York. Trained in the philosophy of harm reduction, he has served as an advocate for homeless and street transgender, lesbian, bisexual, and gay young people. He is a consultant and trainer providing technical assistance in areas such as racial, gender identity, and sexuality sensitivity program development and community organizing. Henry’s writing has appeared in several publications, including the Lambda Award-winning Does Your Mama Know and the newly released IAC publication, War in Colombia: Made in USA. He is a graduate of the School of Performing Arts of Emerson College. Currently Henry is touring with his multimedia theater piece, “B4T (before testosterone),” segments of which were featured on a episode of the nationally-syndicated PBS newsmagazine In the Life. He was an Artist-in-Residence at the Brooklyn Arts Exchange for two years where he developed his new multimedia project, “Living in the Light.” [Imani Henry]

During Act 3’s public event, Imani Henry performed segments of his two multimedia theater pieces “Living in the Light” and “B4T (before testosterone).” Staged as a heart-to-heart conversation with his hospitalized grandmother, Henry took the audience on journey through various settings of black diaspora. During the conversation, Henry gradually “came out” as an artist, activist, gay, and female-to-male transsexual. His interactive, cabaret-style theater performance invited the audience to become part of the show as they bore witness to the story unfolding. [Tone Olaf Nielsen] To download manuscript from performance, click PDF here.


Imani Henry performing “Living in the Light & B4T (before testosterone)” in the Nordic House, Tórshavn. Photo: © Allan Broekie. Courtesy of the artist

Born 1980 in Seoul, South Korea. Lives and works in Copenhagen, Denmark
Born 1971 in Cheonju, South Korea. Lives and works in Stockholm, Sweden

Jane Jin Kaisen is a visual artist and activist working in an interdisciplinary manner with video, performance, text, and photography. In an attempt to deconstruct narration, reading, and representation, she uses reversed strategies and multilayered approaches in her use of language and medium. She is part of Chamber of Public Secrets, a mobile art apparatus, which produces video documentaries/broadcasting for the Copenhagen-based tv-tv and has recently organized Made In Video: International Video Art Festival on Public Secrets and Visual Representation in Copenhagen, 2006. She was co-curator of International Adoptee Gathering Exhibition (Seoul, South Korea, 2004), co-founder of UFOlab (Unidentified Foreign Object Laboratory), a Scandinavian-based artist/activist group working with postcolonial and feminist theory for international adoptees’ rights through seminars, exhibitions, city interventions, and writing. Kaisen is also part of the exhibition collective Orientity of Diaspora Korean Artists, which exhibits and lectures on trans-experience. [Jane Jin Kaisen]

Tobias Hübinette (Korean name Lee Sam-dol) is a Lecturer and Researcher in contemporary Korean culture and society. His Ph.D. dissertation in Korean Studies, Comforting an Orphaned Nation, examines international adoption from Korea, the Korean adoption issue, and representations of adopted Koreans in Korean media and popular culture. He has lectured, published books and articles, and made research on Nazism and racism in the Scandinavian countries. In addition, he writes in Swedish, Korean, and international newspapers and journals on issues concerning (post)colonialism in a Nordic context and setting, and on international adoption and international adoptees in general. Other interests are Swedish and Western images and representations of Korea and East Asians, problems regarding Orientalism and Asianists, and marginalized postcolonial Diasporas and ethnic minorities. [Tobias Hübinette]

Jane Jin Kaisen & Tobias Hübinette participated with a new multimedia performance in two parts. Part 1, titled “Transmitting: (Dis)ComfortAN(d)AlieNation,” was performed in the Faroe Islands Art Museum on May 12 during the exhibition opening (click here for more info). Part 2, “(Dis)ComfortAN(d)AlieNation: The X-Raced Mut(at)ed Speak,” was Kaisen’s and Hübinette’s contribution to Act 3’s public event in the Nordic House. The performance was closely related to Kaisen & Hübinette’s multimedia installation, “Tracing Trades: International Adoption and Nordic Colonialism,” in Act 3’s exhibition (click here for more info). Kaisen & Hübinette summarize the performance as follows: “A performance testimony and lecture will suggest different forms of conscious resistance, reconstruction, and healing, and contest how Nordic neo-colonialism is perceived in the specific geographical location of the Faroe Islands by exploring the repression of the Scandinavian region’s colonial effects on transracial, transnational, and transcultural adoptees. Although the lack of cultural and ethnic heritage has led to the ‘successful’ assimilation and acculturation of international adoptees, surveys in the Scandinavian contexts reveal severe internalized conflicts. These psychic antagonisms deal with issues of loss and (be)longing mixed with feelings of being ‘unthankful’ or marginalized, if they speak out their dilemma of being ‘forced in-betweens’ without any place to return to. After decades of having been generalized, politicized, represented, and spoken for, we attempt to speak this unique experience of alienation and deprivation, regaining and reclaiming agency through art, cultural production, and academic research.” [Jane Jin Kaisen & Tobias Hübinette] To download Tobias Hübinette’s lecture from the performance, click PDF here.


Jane Jin Kaisen & Tobias Hübinette performing “(Dis)ComfortAN(d)AlieNation: The X-Raced Mut(at)ed Speak” in the Nordic House, Tórshavn. Photo: © Allan Broekie. Courtesy of Kaisen & Hübinette

Founded in 2004. Based in Jakarta, Indonesia

HYDROXYBROMIDE is a DJ duo consisting of Ade Darmawan and Reza Afisina, both members of the Jakarta-based artists’ initiative and collaborative platform, Ruangrupa. The duo was founded in 2004 and has had several gigs in Jakarta.

Ruangrupa started to have “music” at their openings in 2000. The concept was simple: two CD-players and one mixer connected to a radio/tape sound system in a very little room. All audiences were invited to guest DJ, allowing for a wide range of songs and varieties. The whole idea was to have some form of experimental entertainment that would bring many people together in Ruangrupa’s space even though they had never heard about the artists’ initiative and its programs before. This concept has continued, and many people now consider Ruangrupa to be a disco place with an exhibition space as well. But HYDROXYBROMIDE not only DJs, their gigs also count live acoustic music, karaoke, classical recital, and contemporary poetry readings. It is a cheap and alternative “dance floor” experience. [HYDROXYBROMIDE]

HYDROXYBROMIDE participated in Act 3’s public event with the DJ session “Wish you could dance better at the next event!,” bringing Indonesian-style DJ’ing to the capital Tórshavn.


HYDROXYBROMIDE in action in the Nordic House, Tórshavn. Photo: © Anna Kong and Frederikke Hansen. Courtesy of HYDROXYBROMIDE

Formed in 1996. Based in Tórshavn, The Faroe Islands

200 (Tveyhundrað) was formed in 1996 for the compilation “Rock í Føroyum 2.” Niels Arge Galán, Uni Árting, and Mikael Blak were all members of the rock band Mold and wanted to do something different. To begin with, 200 was a side project with the purpose to prove that “alternative” rock could be sung in Faroese. At the time, almost all Faroese rock bands sang in English.

There wasn’t much activity after “Rock í Føroyum 2.” 200 was put on a shelf for a couple of years. But after Mold became history, 200 reemerged. 200 participated in Prix Føroyar, a band contest in 2001, and it wasn’t until then that the current 200 sound was established. The Elvis voice, the political lyrics, and the musical style all came together during this period. This was also the Year of the Gimp.

In 2001, 200 released its first album, “200%.” Although the airborne media totally ignored the release, it got very good reviews and finally sold out. The fact that it sold out came as a complete surprise to the band. At the time, Uni and Niels were living in Copenhagen and Mikael in the Faroe Islands. Activities were sparse, although performances were made in the Faroe Islands, Iceland, and Denmark.

After a while, concerts started to be embarrassing, as the material was getting older and older. The decision was made to record again. With all members together in the Faroe Islands, the decision was easy. In March 2005, “Viva la Republica” was recorded and released subsequently. Reviews were even better than “200%,” and the song “Muscleman-blað” was at the number one spot of the national official hit list. The world is a weird place…

200 has just released its third and much anticipated album “Graceland.” The trio’s music is mostly about Faroese politics. With satirical lyrics, subjects like Faroese independence from the Danish Empire, homophobia, and Christian fundamentalism are portrayed in a different angle. When asked why the lyrics are political, the answer is simply: That is what is on our minds. Thus, the music is a tool to get our opinions across. In our opinion, too few people speak their minds in the Faroe Islands (this excludes all the nuts writing angry letters in the papers). Many things in the Faroe Islands are fxxxed up, and somebody has to say it… [200]

200 participated in Act 3’s public event with a live concert, delivering some of their most political songs to an enthusiastic crowd of local audiences and international visitors. To download covers from 200’s three albums, click here [ZIP file, 1.24 MB].


Picking up and installing 200’s stage prop (a rotating “fuck-finger”). Photo: © Tone Olaf Nielsen. Courtesy of 200


200 live in the Nordic House, Tórshavn. Photo: © Allan Broekie and Frederikke Hansen. Courtesy of 200