COOP ~ All About My Mother from Month to Month

Seminar 3 & 4: 10 - 17 March 2020

The shore could have been the embodiment of reception [1]

For your journey to Tunis, our host Aziza Harmel has selected the following ingredients: two poems, songs concerning Mother-land—a term taken from our common lexicon of ingredients and chosen as the working theme of this gathering—and an audio recording to help prepare for our meetings at the Palazzo (Aziza, Yesmine and Moez’s place). We will question how our ingredients engage with different geographies and localities, so as to address and be conscious of what we are taking when moving from one place to the next. 

Ommi (my mother), a poem by Mahmoud Darwich. The song rendition found at the above link is by Marcel Khalife.


Dearly I yearn for my mother’s bread,

My mother’s coffee,

Mother’s brushing touch.

Childhood is raised in me,

Day upon day in me.

And I so cherish life

Because if I died

My mother’s tears would shame me.

Set me, if I return one day,

As a shawl on your eyelashes, let your hand

Spread grass out over my bones,

Christened by your immaculate footsteps

As on holy land.

Fasten us with a lock of hair, 

With thread strung from the back of your dress.

I could grow into godhood

Commend my spirit into godhood

If I but touch your heart’s deep breath.

Set me, if ever I return,

In your oven as fuel to help you cook,

On your roof as a clothesline stretched in your hands.

Weak without your daily prayers,

I can no longer stand.

I am old

Give me back the stars of childhood

That I may chart the homeward quest

Back with the migrant birds,

Back to your awaiting nest.

Takkbbar (pride yourself), a poem by Mahmoud Darwich. Listen to the song rendition by Oumaima El Khalil at the above link.


Pride yourself... Be proud!

Even with your disdain,

You will remain an angel in my eyes and in my flesh.

You will stay as my love has decided that I will see you

Your breath is like amber,

The ground that you lay on is like honey,

And I’ll love you more.

Your hands are trees

But I don’t sing

Like other nightingales


Because the chains

Taught me how to fight

Fight... and fight again,

Because I only love you more

My songs are daggers made out of your roses

My silence is a childhood of thunder

And blood lily.

My heart,

You are the firmament and the sky

And your heart is green

And the undertow of love is your sea

How, wouldn’t I love you more?

You are just as my love wanted me to see you:

Your breath is amber,

Honey is the ground you lay on

And your heart is green…!

And I am the child of your love

On your soothing lap, I grow


Further ingredients:

  • From the Casco Art Institute archive: 
    • They Have Thrown the Scouts in the Sea, by Aziza Harmel, published as part of Publishing Class: How to Live Together, 2013
  •  Reading & listening material: 
    • Introduction from Lose your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route,Saidiya Harman, 2008 
    • Namibia Gupta Wiggers in As Radical, As Mother, As Salad, As Shelter: What Should Art Institutions Do Now?

Cooks: Aziza Harmel, Sepake Angiama, Nina bell F. (Yolande van der Heide) with Mia van de Bos, Saskia Burggraaf, Emma de Filippo, Litchi Friedrich, Jiatu Gu, Csilla Klenyanszki, Flávia Palladino, Dayna Casey, and Anakin Xersonsky.


[1] The title of the session is given to us by Aziza Harmel, through her conversations with Christian Nyampeta (also tutor to the former DAI COOP Publishing Class: How to Live Together). In conversation she shared: “I am thinking about hospitality in a place where mobile people are not welcome… and Tunis is the highest point to Europe so it is where Africans go to in order to cross into Europe, same goes for Libya, Morocco… But North Africa is a very racist place so talking about Pan Africanism here, for example, is tricky because though there is a history of this things are different now.”  

Seminar 2: 26 - 29 January 2020

Title: Collective kitchens as common practices

Cooks: Nina bell F. (Annette Krauss, Binna Choi, Ying Que, Yolande van der Heide) and Mari Pitkänen with Mia van de Bos, Saskia Burggraaf, Emma de Filippo, Litchi Friedrich, Jiatu Gu, Csilla Klenyanszki, Flávia Palladino, Dayna, and Anakin Xersonsky


-       Politics as Experimentation Practices, an essay by Alana Moraes *(we ask that you read this beforehand), 2019

-        Things from the project Site for Unlearning (Art Organizations) (2014-2018): the 2018 publication Unlearning Exercises: Art Organizations as Sites for Unlearning, edited by Binna Choi, Annette Krauss, Yolande van der Heide with Liz Allan; and the 2018 and 2019 Assemblies for Commoning Art Institutions

-    Ingredients carried over from the last session including embodied objects or things

-      Yet to be defined words from the Commons Lexicon: wisdom, social reproduction, study (collective), m(other), archive, cooking, sharing economy, recipe, neurodiversity, currency, Undercommons and fermentation


The second All about my mother gathering departs from Alana Moraes’ talk entitled “Politics as Experimentation Practices” presented at Casa de Povo’s program Studies of the Commons whereby she expounds upon the notion of the commons with the metaphor of the kitchen as a laboratory for experimentation and knowledge making. She writes: “collective kitchens as common practices continue to defy binarisms, the authorized productions of truth.” In turn, the COOP gathering calls upon its “cooks” to inhabit this notion–including singularities, pluralities and complexities–to add and unpack our developing ingredients list in the shared quest to imagine and actualise transgressive modes that upset existing binaries towards m/other ways of being together.

The gathering is further informed by the Casco Art Institute archive as embodied Nina bell F. Considering the origin of Nina, we’ll draw the ingredients from the long-term project and study trajectory Site for Unlearning (Art Organization) to focus on the two major public moments for commoning art institutions in the project. First, the Elephants in the Room Assembly in 2018 that inaugurated the project’s book Unlearning Exercises: Art Organizations as Sites for Unlearning and questioned how art institutions can relate to the challenge of unlearning, especially where the distribution of power is concerned. And second, Our House is On Fire [has been on fire for over 500 years] Assembly in 2019, which sought to create a climate justice code for art institutions in response to the climate breakdown. 

Carrying this further with Moraes’ metaphorical kitchen, we will work through notions of structural habits and unlearning, embodiment and memory, as well as the prompt: Where does your institution’s food come from? 


Seminar 1: 1-4 December 2019

1. Recipe : How shall we come together?

Cooking Time: 1-4 December

Ingredients: Alzad - a word of Arabic origin that refers to preparing food for the one who you do not expect to meet on your journey.

Cooks: Sepake Angiama, Nina bell Federici. (Staci Bu Shea), Mia van de Bos, Saskia Burggraaf, Emma de Filippo, Litchi Friedrich, Jiatu Gu, Csilla Klenyanszki, Flávia Palladino, Sophie de Serière, Matthew Wang, Anakin Xersonsky.


Dear All about my mother participants,

We are honoured that you have chosen to be our co-thinkers, collaborators, co-oks, co-operators and co-pilots. For each of our cooking sessions we would like to draw upon the mixture of all of your ingredients. Through the mess, the cooking methods and testing out of different equipment we hope to make a collective study that addresses how we might be able to institute differently, by looking back on the Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons archive, sharing and analysing readings, somatic unlearning exercises and collective forms of knowledge production.

What do we carry with us when we move from one location to another? How can we prepare for these moments of togetherness? How do we prepare for unexpected guests and unknown revelations?

2. Preparations

For our first session we would like to ask you to think about how we should come together. Which ingredient will you bring to help us reflect on the conditions that we wish to create for our collective study? You can bring a reading, an object, an activity, a song, an exercise, a film… the possibilities are endless. This ingredient is situated in your practice and will be something you wish to bring to the group that we can experience collectively. Please prepare the introduction of your ingredient and try to think through the ways that we might also be able to understand its characteristic qualities. Further, consider how your ingredient would travel or be introduced when encountering different locations and (guest) tutors.

If your ingredient is immaterial, please consider if you could bring a symbolic representation of your ingredient or whether we could experience the ingredient through an exercise or embodiment. How would you introduce yourself and your interest in this ingredient?

The first seminar of All about my mother will be led by Sepake Angiama and Staci Bu Shea of Nina bell F., who will introduce the outline, background, and intentions to build a recipe together in our COOP. This introductory gathering will set into motion a way of working towards the type of institution at stake in this course: one that transgresses existing binaries towards institutions that allows for m/other ways of being that is with singularities, pluralities and complexities.

We will define key terms in order to form a common lexicon, share initial ingredients, and begin to establish our “pantry and refrigerator” to be used as our nomadic facility. This session will primarily focus on student participant presentations and discussion to learn how our individual practices will inform the collective recipe-making.

Looking forward,
Sepake and Staci of Nina bell F.