Guests at Unknown Grounds II: The Public Building

Information about Unknown Grounds: The Public Building will be placed here mid April 2022. For now we are honoured to announce the following guests

Nishant Shah

Hamja Ahsan

Lila Athanasiadou

Ribal El-Khatib

Nina Glockner

Mohamedou Ould Slahi

Eef Veldkamp

Anna Moreno


Phillipe Quesne


Oscar van Leest

What labor are we performing in the public building? What sorts of labor are yet to be imagined?


Unknown Grounds is a performative symposium and interdisciplinary co-educational platform for the building of the public. By borrowing tools from performance art and through workshops guided by curated guests we will encourage different modes of playful participation and critical inquiry. Immersed in a theatrical atmosphere, we will become 'personas' where reality and fiction mingle, out of the conviction that hands on and speculative labor are both crucial to building the public towards something different than what it is today.


Unknown Grounds II: The Public Building focuses on how our public domains are constituted and enacted and explores how it could be built differently.

The symposium takes two full days and will be catered. Tickets are available for a single day of the event and for both days.

sign up for UGII via: sign up

Unknown Grounds 2:
The Public Building
7/8-06-2022, De Harmonie, Leeuwarden


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The guests & their workshops

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Hamja Ahsan is an artist, writer, activist, and curator based in London, UK. He is the author of the book Shy Radicals: Antisystemic Politics of the Militant Introvert, now adapted into a film currently touring film festivals. He was awarded the Grand Prize at Ljubljana Biennial 2019. He is co-curator of the DIY Cultures festival of creative activism, zines, and independent publishing since 2013. 

He was shortlisted for the Liberty human rights award for Free Talha Ahsan campaign on extradition under the War on Terror. He is on the editorial board of the Radical Mental Health magazine Asylum.  He has presented art projects at PS1 MOMA at New York Art book week, Tate Modern, Gwangju Biennale, Shaanakht festival Pakistan and and CCA Warsaw Poland and forthcoming at Documenta 15. His practice encompasses all media: conceptual writing, building archives, performance, video, sound and making zines.  IG/Tweets: @hamjaahsan

Hamja will be hosting a workshop in which we will engage with a fictional prisoner. 

Hamja Ahsan - artist, writer, activist


Lila Athanasiadou is a cultural worker, researcher and architect whose practice spans from visual and audio essays to teaching encounters and cultural activism. Her work misreads and appropriates artistic, academic and architectural milieus weaving history with mythology, political philosophy with psychoanalysis and architectural theory with popular culture.

She has organised and moderated seminars, reading groups and lectures at TU Delft, ArtEZ, Stroom and Kunstinstituut Melly and has presented her work in academic conferences at RITCS School of Art, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Goethe University, Utrecht University and the Estonian Academy of Arts. She is currently teaching within Social Practices at Willem de Kooning Academy.

The workshop Lila developed explores the function of haunting as resistance to gentrification and its colonial logic. Inspired by the film genre of horror and Irish 16th century maledictions against capitalist exploitation, we will untangle our personal stories of struggle and complicity with gentrification processes, identify usual suspects and collectively devise and perform a curse, echoing the displaced seeking supernatural justice.

Lila Athanasiadou - architect, cultural worker


Amsterdam-based artist Nina Glockner holds a Master in Fine arts from Sandberg Institute (NL), a Bachelor from Minerva Academie in Groningen (NL), and has studied philosophy at Humboldt University Berlin (D). She has been artist-in-residence at the Jan van Eyck Academy Maastricht and recently became mother.

Nina Glockner’s practice–consisting of (object-based) performances, installations, video, text, workshops and somatic research–is about exploring the thin line between executing control and being under a state of control while revealing rather than producing connections. It deals with (power) relationships among humans, bodies, minds, objects, and actions in a given space – ranging from institutional and organisational, to the private. It is about creating a dialogue between the building modules that mark the social playground and examining where subjectivity reveals an encounter with the other. And how to negotiate this encounter (un)aware of the systematic structures that influence its circumstance. 

Nina's workshop engages with the question How we can create a situation where everyone involved has a voice and can temporarily undermine existing hierarchical structures? How can we facilitate a meeting while considering the participants’ different backgrounds, professional perspectives, rhetorical skills and power positions?




Nina Glockner - artist

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Nishant Shah is a feminist, humanist, and technologist working on questions of misinformation, artificial intelligence and ethics, and narrative change practice within digital cultures. He is the Chair Professor of Aesthetics and Cultures of Technology at ArtEZ University of the Arts, and an endowed professor at Radboud University and University of Twente in the Netherlands.

He also serves as a Knowledge Partner with the humanist organization Oxfam and a Faculty Associate at the Berkman Klein Centre for Internet & Society, Harvard University, USA. His forthcoming book, 'Overload, Creep, Excess: How did we get to this digital here?' is coming out in Fall 2023 with the Institute for Network Cultures.

Nishant's workshop will engaged with what he terms 'paranoid objects'.

Nishant Shah - feminist technologist

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Eef Veldkamp (1993) is an artist, researcher and a lecturer at ArtEZ University of the Arts. By intermingling artistic and philosophical research methods, he brings about subversive textual interventions, hinging around contemporary philosophical bottlenecks ranging from the ontology of fire to mnemonic devices of negative histories. 

In his artistic practice Veldkamp develops what he terms ‘counter-systems’. These are organisations specifically erected to engage with actualities that occupy society. He currently investigates our mnemonic structures for dealing with societal crises, for which he developed the dark design/travel organisation called Hyper Souvenirs (2020) that designs a new sort of souvenirs. Each organisation, such as Hyper Souvenirs, has its own aims, programming and expiration date. Often this programming results in reproducible artworks that take the form of tools presented within a whole series of events and context, which is also why the artist terms it ‘art on batteries’—works of art that do. The goals of his practice, therefore, are not just solely to produce artworks per se, but through the structures of the arts co-produce new practices.


During Unknown Grounds II Eef wil host a workshop around mapping the publics. Using subverted measuring tools each participant is invited to synthesise a map of their public sphere.

Eef Veldkamp - Artist


Ribal Elkhatib (1982) Assistant Architect, photographer, Artist.

Ribal is a stateless Palestinian born and raised up in Abu Dhabi (UAE) as a child of stateless Palestinian parents. Ribal worked for the Town Planning Department in Abu Dhabi for 14 years in the infrastructure planning section and GIS. Ribal have a great experience in 2D and 3D design and graphics softwares.

Ribal arrived to The Netherlands with his family in May 2017 to seek asylum. During his stay and waiting in The Netherlands Ribal took a lot of beautiful photos around most of the Dutch cities the past 5 years, and in order not to lose his working skills he started to practice 2D drawings and 3D modeling and rendering and animation on the most seen surroundings to him, the AZC furniture.

From the chairs, beds, tables, curtains and closets in the asylum seekers centers, photography and 3D modeling, animation and rendering. Ribal has been incorporating these objects into his art for a long and created a short animation film to make "The Gap"!

In the exhibition 'The Gap', Ribal gives a special look at his life in the Netherlands. Ribal came to our country as a refugee a few years ago. In 'The Gap' he takes you into his story using photos, 3D models and an impressive short animation film. The title refers to the chasm he experiences. The gap in which you live in the unknown, between a past you can't go back to and an unknown future.

Cities normally have laws and rules running them, but when it comes to asylum seeking centers they have their own rules beside the main city rules. During the workshop hosted by Ribal participants are invited to inhabit 6 different rooms, in which they will encounter a set of rules. They will play "reverse engineers": what was in the designer's head when they came up with these rules? What was the purpose? Could they be designed differently, so that they serve a new purpose?

Ribal El-Khatib - architect & artist


Mohamedou Ould Slahi was born in Rosso, Mauritania, the ninth of twelve children of a camel herder. His family moved to the capital of Nouakchott when he was a child, where he attended school and earned a scholarship to study electrical engineering at Gerhard-Mercator University in Duisburg / Germany.

In 2001, he was living and working in his home country of Mauritania when he was detained and renditioned to Jordan, beginning an ordeal that he would chronicle in his internationally-bestselling Guantánamo Diary. The manuscript, which he wrote in his isolation cell in the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, remained classified for almost eight years and was finally released, with substantial redactions, in 2013. It was first published in the United States and United Kingdom in January, 2015, and has since been published in twenty-five languages. After fifteen years of detention, Mohamedou was released on October 17th, 2016 to Mauritania. The following year he published a “restored edition” of Guantánamo Diary, filling in the U.S. government’s redactions, and in February 2021 his first novel, The Actual True Story of Ahmed and Zarga, published by Ohio University Press. Since January 2022 Writer in residence with NNT/NITE and De Balie, The Netherlands.

His life is captured in the Hollywood movie The Mauritanian. With Jody Foster in the role of Nancy Hollander, his lawyer. In december 2021 Mohamedou came, against all the odds, on a work permit to Groningen, the Netherlands. He is as play writer-in-residence part of the ensemble of Noord Nederlands Toneel and Club Guy & Roni. Together with Guy Weizman he worked on the performance Freedom that will be shown on the 10th of June in de Harmonie in Leeuwarden. With De Balie, debat and knowledge center in Amsterdam, Mohamedou is working on a educational programm and a lecture sequel that is going in premiere later on this year.

Mohamedou Ould Slahi - activist


Anna Moreno is a visual artist and works between Barcelona and The Hague. Her artistic practice is research-based and focuses on the inconclusive nature of (historical and future) events while it questions documentation processes during post-production. Her research intermingles concepts from finance, utopian architecture, and speculative literature and takes the form of installations, movies, or events. 

Moreno has recently completed her residency at the Jan Van Eyck Academie in Maastricht (NL) in 2020. She has participated in residencies at SASG (Seoul), HIAP (Helsinki), Salzamt (Linz, AT) and Cittadellarte – Fondazione Pistoletto (Biella, IT). Moreno’s artistic work has been shown internationally at MOCAB (Belgrade), SAS Geumcheon (Seoul), Joan Miró Foundation (Barcelona), and 1646 (The Hague), to name a few. She lectured at the San Francisco MOMA, the University of Barcelona, and the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, among others. Moreno is also co-founder of the artists-run space Helicopter in The Hague. She taught Artistic Research at the Royal Academy of Art of The Hague and has designed workshops and seminars internationally. She publishes essays on art, politics, and architecture in specialised magazines such as CARTHA, and is currently working on Bulldozer, her first film, co-produced by Acteon Films, and supported by Mondriaan Fonds, Stroom Den Haag, Amarte Fonds, Sitchting Stokroos, and Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds.

Anna Moreno - Artist

Scenography and sound design


Oscar van Leest is an audiovisual artist and sound designer based in Arnhem, the Netherlands. In the sound branch of his art practice he explores socio-sonic topics, like the spaces in which people experience and make sound, and the many technologies and physics that facilitate this relationship. Oscar is also the co-founder the Syntax clubnight collective in Arnhem.

Oscar developed a soundscape for Unknown Grounds II.

Oscar van Leest - Sound artist


Philippe Quesne (born in 1970) is a French playwright, director and scenographer. He studied visual arts at the École Estienne and then at the Decorative Arts in Paris. He worked for ten years as a theater and exhibition designer, before founding the "Vivarium Studio" company in 2003, made up of actors, visual artists, musicians and dancers.

From 2014 to 2020, he directed the Nanterre-Amandiers Theater. In 2019, he is the artistic director of the French pavilions at the Prague Quadrennial.


Philippe's 'Cave' is the centre piece of the Unknown Grounds scenography.

Philippe Quesne - Scenography

Previous events

Script for Synthetic Play
Book launch & radio theatre event
30-03-2022, via Zoom

Link: HERE!

Link: HERE!


Tune in for an online radio theater performance / book launch event: an acoustic way of approaching the traces of the unique experience that took place in Unknown Grounds. Dust off your ears and prepare your mind for a short but sweet reading of some of the juiciest pages of Script for a Synthetic play, a book where expertise meets experience in informal and approachable conversations turned into a comedy play with a pinch of science fiction. Hybrid voices circulate, borders of disciplines are blurred and grounds are collectively explored anew. 


Script for a Synthetic Play delves into human and land exhaustion, new world-making technologies, the need for refuge and infrastructures of care, and cultural and ecological challenges of today. Through the generative power of fiction a sense of identity and belonging emerges, but also of marginality and dispossession. 


[Script for a Synthetic Play stems from the discussions that took place in the performative symposium “Unknown Grounds'' in Leeuwarden, 2019, supported by art initiative VHDG and Tresoar Frysk Histoarysk en Letterkundich Sintrum, and features a collection of texts written by Sissel Marie Tonn, Bert Looper, Andrej Radman, Theun Karelse, masharu, Bert Boekschoten and Flora Reznik.] 


We also have some news to share about the upcoming Unknown Grounds: The Public Building edition, on 7-8 June, 2022!


March 30th at 20:00

Hosted by VHDG and Onomatopee Projects. 

Location: online (we will use zoom but with no cameras on, only sound).

Link: HERE!


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