Stories of Belonging

Exhibition and public programme
4 February – 27 March 2022

The exhibition Stories of Belonging in the Aula, 2022.

Imagine you are in a place where you can really be yourself. You don't have to think about how to behave, what to wear or what you can or cannot do. You feel at home.

Can you take us back to a time when you really felt at home?

–Fouad Lakbir

In 2017, Amsterdam Nieuw-West became the new home of de Appel. Together with our neighbours we wanted to create a home, which we started off by listening. We leant an ear to community centres, schools, families and artists. We discussed what a home actually is, and what it means to feel at home. This dialogue made us grow, and just like a tree we grew deeper roots and stronger branches.

One such dialogue that has blossomed over the past five years is with the Comenius Lyceum in Jacob Geelstraat in Amsterdam Nieuw-West. Throughout the years, we have both learned from and strengthened each other, and developed several art projects, mainly inside the school. These projects were designed to highlight certain skills, knowledge and experiences that often remain unseen or undervalued. In collaboration with artists and through artistic processes, we learnt how to be ‘wise’ in different ways and discovered ways to grow and flourish as human beings. Within this context, young people took the space and time to choose for themselves the stories they wanted to tell.

Now is the time for Stories of Belonging to be shown to the public, at de Appel. With this exhibition, we create time and space for our neighbours’ stories that explore a collective experience of feeling at home. We tune in to our childhood memories and to music, we consider the clothes we wear and acknowledge our relationships with friends, family, the city and nature. The thirty-six pupils and the artists involved have selected existing works of art, and have also created new works for the exhibition.

The thirty-six upper secondary school students are comprised of two groups: one group from arts and crafts and another group from music class. The first group focused on imagery and objects, together with artists Bonnie Ogilvie and Mehraneh Atashi. The other group concentrated on sounds, music and stories with Gershwin Bonevacia and Mark Nieuwenhuis. Jointly, the students explored the field of tension between collective and individual experiences, and explored the possibility of a space where we can all feel 'at home'.

Public programme

Stories of Belonging started with and from the students. They wanted to create a place to gather with friends and family where music, images, colour, light and homely elements came together. We have created the basis for this place at de Appel. During the Stories of Belonging public programme, in alternating public and closed meetings, we build on this with six students and under the guidance of Fouad Lakbir, Narges Mohammadi and David Smeulders.

Every Saturday, students Beyda, Donovan, Hajar, Oumaima, Safae and Yahya came to de Appel to continue expanding their exhibition. Together with the artists Fouad Lakbir, Narges Mohammadi and curator David Smeulders they add new stories and create a new artwork.

Everyone is welcome on Saturday between 13:00 and 17:00 to stop by and have a look or to help think about what the new artwork could be. At the moment these students are building a sculpture to share stories. Listen, watch and tell your story. We hope you feel welcome and at home. This place is here for you, for everyone.