Installation view Zong! by NourbeSe Philip. Photo Hendrik Zeitler
Installation view Zong! by M. NourbeSe Philip. Photo Hendrik Zeitler


  • Saturday 9 October
  • 14.00 – 16.00
  • Free entrance
  • English
  • Gothenburg City Library


Programme in connection to the Remembrance Day for Abolition of Slavery on Saint Barthélemy

Participants: Sandy Harry Ceesay and Maxine Victor, members of the collective Qalam; artists Chia Chuyia, Rossana Mercado-Rojas, Moi Tran and Nontokozo Tshabalala.

October 9th marks the Remembrance Day of the abolition of slave trade and slavery on Saint Barthélemy, Swedish colony between 1784 – 1878. The Remembrance Day is  a reminder of an ongoing colonial history and the injustices, racism and lack of representation that characterize our society as a result.

For this Remembrance Day and in the framework of the eleventh edition of Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art, members of the collective Qalam is invited to respond in a public programme to a work by M. NourbeSe Philip, Canadian poet and lawyer who, inspired by legal documents from an insurance claim from 1781, wrote Zong! , a poem that tells the story of enslaved people treated as goods and killed at sea.

Qalam collaborates with Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art in response to the poetry collection Zong! by M. NourbeSe Philip.

Borrowing inspiration from M. NourbeSe Philip’s literary practice, Sandy Harry Ceesay will present illustrations and a performance piece. Artists Chia Chuyia, Rossana Mercado-Rojas, Moi Tran and Nontokozo Tshabalala, together with Maxine Victor will introduce their practices and engage in a group dialogue about strategies for dismantling colonial structures still in effect today.

The programme is a collaboration between Qalam, Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art, Gothenburg City Library and Västsverige mot rasism.


Qalam is a literary platform in Sweden for unheard voices to write stories as yet untold. The collective is built upon the belief that writing and language play a strong role in decolonising the senses and society. Individual development and expression contribute to shared research in this writers collective.

Dancer, maker and writer, Sandy Harry Ceesay (b. 1995) searches with their artistic practice a crossborder and changeable body. With a poetic body language Ceesay explores the prerequisites of the body, literature and choreography. After four years in Amsterdam, where he graduated from Amsterdam University of the Arts (AHK), have his interest been devoted to form, texture and language. Ceesay reveres the body’s endless motion as a starting point for all of his choreographic and literary works alike.

Chia Chuyia (b. Malaysia, based in Sweden) works with painting, installation art, digital representation and performance art. Her works focuses on global issues especially concerning living environment, food, identity and culture. She expresses meaning through action, looking at perspectives on how body language and action communicate to the viewer. She is also the co-founder of performance art collective ‘Communication Laboratory/ComLab Sweden. She has participated in festivals, exhibitions and arts activities in more than 35 countries in East Asia, Southeast Asia, Asia Pacific, the European countries, the Nordic Countries, Russia, the Baltic countries, North America, South America and Africa. 

Rossana Mercado-Rojas (b. 1982, Peru) is an artist of Andean descent, living and working in Stockholm. Her practice explores decolonial feminist practices, public spaces, and collective work. She has been working mainly with ephemeral interventions of spaces with sound, paint, video, and spoken word performances in order to generate common spaces, habitats-on-the-go, and reclaim the right/feel entitled to exist and inhabit the place where we are. Her work aims to voice the artist’s personal journey across different legal and social structures as a way to enunciate what is usually ignored or bluntly erased under colonial, racist and/or patriarchal biases. Rossana Mercado-Rojas is one of the founders of La Dekoloniala! (Sweden) an educational, artistic, and cultural organization whose main goal is to bring forward decolonial knowledge from the global South. She is also one of the initiators of the feminist collective Hysterix (Peru) focusing on multidisciplinary interventions in the public realm. In Stockholm, she is part of Creartivista Kollektiva and Galleri Majkens. Rossana Mercado-Rojas is also a curator, art teacher, community organizer and mother of an 11 year old child.

Moi Tran (b. Vietnam, based in UK) is an artist, researcher, performance maker and designer exploring the intersections between Contemporary Art and Live Performance, with a recent focus on the implications of sonic histories and encounters. Tran is committed to advocating the power of diaspora space as a site for critical knowledge production through acknowledging the raw value of emotive recognition, in doing so, confronting overlooked micro aggressions, such as emotional inequalities that often escape a critical assessment of culpability and complicity. Her work is held in Mark Rothko Centre,Latvia; Elsewhere, The Living Museum, North Carolina, USA;The Gotham West group and Underline gallery, New York . In 2022 she will be artist in Residence at ArtHouse, UK; Taipei Artist Village TN.

Nontokozo Tshabalala is a multidisciplinary artist and designer. Born and raised in South Africa, she uses her work as an avenue to inquire deeper questions about her identity and the black experience wherever she goes. Inspired by her nephew, Siyamthanda a.k.a Ncufi, she writes and creates from a place of deep reflection, curiosity and instincts. She often uses colour, collage and poetry to express her thoughts about a particular topic. Nontokozo Tshabalala is currently exhibiting a large scale digital print in the group show Comforting the machine at 3:e Våningen.

Maxine Victor is an artist and writer who lives and works in Singapore and Gothenburg. Writing in her third language, Swedish, she uses a mixture of Singaporean English, Hokkien dialect, Peranakan patois, as well as still images to construct the language-substance with which she writes. She is interested in sifting through layers of representation in the act of story-making, investigating auto-reflexive mechanisms so as to articulate collective and personal traumas. Written-Sound, as embodied through polyphonic and cacophonic rhythms, is as integral to her language-substance as is Written-Image, embodied through a drastic fragmentation of her prose so as to perform the fracturing of the psyche under trauma and duress. Maxine was born and raised in Singapore, of Chinese ethnicity within the Peranakan heritage. She migrated to Sweden in the autumn of 2010 amidst the loss of both her parents. She is part of the writers collective Qalam and the artist group Never-never Mind. She has exhibited as a visual artist in Singapore, Venice and Sweden, as well as a travelling show in Southeast Asia and Germany by Goethe Institute. Her short fiction has been published by Ord&Bild magazine and Art Inside Out Journal in Sweden.