Complaint: Body of Knowledge

Publication details


Complaint: Body of Knowledge

Complaint: Body of Knowledge is the accompanying thesis to Alona van Rosmalen’s graduation project Body of Knowledge: Complaint for which she was awarded the 2019 Drempelprijs (Threshold Award). The Drempelprijs has been awarded annually since 1962 by the Municipality of Rotterdam (Gemeente Rotterdam) to one or more graduates of the Willem de Kooning Academy.

Alona van Rosmalen‘s thesis Complaint: Body of Knowledge was published in 2020 by the lectoraat Social Practices at the Research Centre WdKA.

Thesis excerpt:

I have always been fascinated about the stories of others, as a way to increase my understand­ ing of our world, our society, other people, and myself. Stories that I find relatable, that I want to share, and that might even have the power to inspire change within myself. But also sto­ries that are still hidden, still unexplored, and that question my own sense of reality, of what I know and believe.

The people I have admired were often those who “owned” their narrative, challenged the norm, or expressed their ideas and views with confidence. Reading and experiencing their struggle, their bliss, their journey, often helped me to forget the feeling I had of being trapped in a cage.

In the binary system of how we put the things around us in boxes, I often find myself left out, unmentioned. Not smart, not dumb, not the youngest, not the oldest, not a boy but uncomfortably labelled a girl, not white, not black, not Dutch, not Filipino. The only word in which I could find power and mean­ ing, that summed up my complex identity, was the word allochtoon—the Dutch word com­ monly used to designate immigrants, literally meaning “coming from another soil”. Always somewhere in between, average, halfway and unnoticed—or, as the title of my artist state­ment makes clear: I don’t matter.