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Returning the Gaze is Sites of Memory's latest sites specific performance. It will premiere on November 17 and can be seen on November 19 and 20 in Middelburg. After sold-out shows in Haarlem and Amsterdam, the team of multidisciplinary artists shines light on historical stories and locations from Middelburg. The performance is about making ignored voices heard and making underexposed people visible. The dominant, mostly white gaze versus the suppressed perspective from which colonial history is viewed, is central to this performance. 


Returning the Gaze takes the audience back to November 1596. That year, about 130 African men, women and children arrived in Middelburg by ship. They were prisoners aboard the ship of merchant Pieter van der Hagen and captain Melchior van den Kerckhoven. A viewing day was organized on the Abdijplein on November 18, during which they were exhibited to people in the city. As baptized Christians they could live in freedom, however two weeks later the children, women and men, were still reduced to commodities by the government of the Republic. After a short stay in Middelburg, they had to embarked again and were sold in the West Indies. 

Returning the Gaze presents the echo and resonance of these stories. What was the impact of this history on the residents of Middelburg in the past and in the present? The audience can expect a theatrical experience where local underexposed stories from the colonial history are shared through dance, poetry and music.


Thursday 17 november 16:00

Saturday 19 november 13:00 & 16:00

Sunday 20 november 13:00 & 16:00

Starting location: Kloostergangen at the abdij of Middelburg. The addres:  Abdijplein, Middelburg

This performance is in Dutch with text in English, Papiamentu and Sranan Tongo

Duration: 45 min

Returning the Gaze in Middelburg is in collaboration with CBK Zeeland, Keti Koti Zeeland, Productiehuis Zeeland, Mapping Slavery Project, DOX, Poetry Circle Nowhere. It is made possible by VSBfonds, VriendenLoterij Fonds, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds Zeeland and Norma Fonds.

PR image Returning the Gaze Amsterdam.jpg

Credit: Judith Westerveld


Concept & artistic directors Jennifer Tosch, Katy Streek

Makers & performers Jomecia Oosterwolde, Jörgen Gario, Shishani, Judith Westerveld   

Script & tekst Jörgen Gario, Shishani, Judith Westerveld, Jomecia Oosterwolde, Katy Streek 

Director Katy Streek

Choreography Jomecia Oosterwolde

Composition & music Jörgen Gario, Shishani

Set design & installation Judith Westerveld

Costume design Alejita 

Dance Mihai Pruna, Xaviëra Nibte (DOX)

Spoken word Nathan Sanjaya, Nour Jordan (Nowhere)

Composition and gitar Hayat Ketiga - Dries Alexander, Irene van Driel

Research Mapping Slavery Project, Amsterdam Museum

Creative producer Gina Alina Patilea

Business manager Kimberley Smit

Technical coördinator Boaz van den Ban


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