The Power of Culture

Art from every quarter of the world in Kassel

The names of the participating artists will be announced one month before the opening of Documenta 11 on June 8, 2002. The event in the German city of Kassel, which is held once every 5 years, is one of the foremost surveys of contemporary art. The guest curator this time round is the Nigerian Okwui Enwezor. As anticipated, he is inviting considerably more non-western artists than his predecessor. As an introduction to the exhibition, Enwezor has organised conferences in Lagos and New Delhi and on St. Lucia. One of the most frequent topics at these 'platforms' is the dynamics of globalisation.
More information: Documenta 11

Film about September 11

Eleven directors are going to make a film about September 11, 2001 - the day of the attacks in New York. The directors come from India, Burkina Fasso, Iran, Israel, Mexico, the United States and Egypt, among other countries. The objective of the project is to place the terrorist attacks in a broader perspective. The film will consist of eleven separate films, each exactly eleven minutes and nine seconds long. The film will premiere on September 11, 2002 in a number of countries.

United Nations Children's Summit in New York

"We are the children whose voices are not heard. It is time you pay attention to us." This is what the Bolivian Gabriela Azurduy Arrieta (13) and Audrey Cheynut (17) from Monaco said to government representatives from more than 150 countries. They appeared as spokespeople for several hundred children that attended the Children's Summit at the United Nations, from May 8th - 10th in New York.
The conference was preceded by a warning by the World Bank that education in Africa is being jeopardised by aids. Many teachers are dying of the disease. Children do not go to school because they must take over their parents' tasks.
Aids is also taking its toll among minors. In spite of this the United States, the Vatican and Islamic countries voted against children's right to sexual information and preventive measures.
More information:
United Nations Special Session on Children
World Bank

'Don Quixote the best book in the world'

A hundred renowned authors from over fifty countries have voted Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes as the best book in the world. The vote was organised by a Norwegian book club that is associated with the Nobel Prize Institute. The jury compiled a list of one hundred works of fiction, primarily works by western male authors. Those voting selected the seventeenth century masterpiece by the Spaniard Cervantes by a large majority.
More about the jury members and the books nominated:
De norske Bokklubbene


Is 'nigger' allowed in the dictionary?

Publisher Van Dale Lexicografie should remove the words 'nigger' and 'creole' from its Unabridged Dictionary of the Dutch Language in the opinion of the Foundation for Honour and Reparations for the Victims of Slavery in Surinam. According to the Foundation these words were originally terms of abuse used by whites; in the Foundation's opinion including them in the Unabridged Van Dale offends Surinamese people. Earlier this year the spokesperson for the Foundation organised a public book burning of Van Dale dictionaries, but the event was cancelled. Now a complaint has been submitted to the Commission for Equal Treatment. The Commission will make a ruling regarding this issue soon.
This is not the first time the Van Dale has received comments about the inclusion of politically incorrect words. In September 2001 a Dutch citizen of Turkish descent complained about the definition of the word 'Turk'.

ANC participate in beauty pageant

The ANC-Jeugdliga (ANC Youth Association) is going to collaborate with Sun International, the organiser of the Miss South Africa beauty pageant. The members of the political association wants more girls from poor areas to be able to participate in the pageant. In an effort to promote this, they are going to help young women from the townships with the preparations for the sometimes complicated preliminary rounds. The ANC youth denies that racial motivations are involved. The last election was won by a 21-year old while South African.
More information: ANC Youth

Saartjie Baartman goes home

The mortal remains of a South African woman are going home after two centuries. The person involved is Saartjie Baartman (1789) of the Khoi tribe. Many members of her tribe were murdered by Dutch colonists, including Baartman's family. Then an English physician took the slave, who was twenty at the time, to England. Because of here large buttocks and genitalia, she put her in a carnival side show. The woman, who came to be known as the 'Hottentot Venus', died six years later in Paris as a prostitute. Because doctors regarded here as a rarity, here brains and sex organs were placed in formaldehyde. They also made a plaster copy of her body, which was displayed in the Parisian Musée de l'Homme until 1974.
South Africans believe it is important for Baartman's remains to be buried in her own soil and not only because this will allow her soul to find peace, as the Khoi tribe believes. It is also a way of showing respect to a suppressed people. Moreover, it is hoped that the remains of more of her former countrymen and women will be released from the repositories of European museums.
Nelson Mandela has personally campaigned to have Baartman's remains returned to Africa since 1994. The French had to pass a special law to make it possible to do this. They want to prevent other countries from being able to demand the return of items taken from their countries.

Soccer film too funny

According to reports China has banned the successful Hong Kong film Shaolin Soccer. The box office hit, also known as Siu lam juk kau, won prizes for best actor, best director, best film and best visual effects at the Hong Kong Film Awards in 2001. The Chinese say that the comedy by director Stephen Chow makes fun of soccer. According to the authorities this cannot be allowed now that China is participating in the World Cup Championship.

Sources: Algemeen Dagblad, NRC Handelsblad, het Parool, Trouw, de Volkskrant, Het Nieuwsblad, De Standaard, Le Monde, The Guardian, Documenta, De norske Bokklubbene, ANC Youth, United Nations, World Bank


An employee must abide by the dress code, which means no head scarves or tattoos.




Amsterdam Roots Festival

Foto: National Dance Company of Ghana

Music from every corner of the world

The Amsterdam Roots Festival is a leading festival with a varied program of world music and world culture. This year the performers include Daniela Mercury, Orchestra Baobab and The National Dance Company of Ghana. More than 50 performances are scheduled in Amsterdam between June 21st and June 30th.
View the festival web site as well:

You can find more exhibitions, cultural events and gatherings in 'World in action', the schedule on the International Collaboration web site.


june 2002