Katherine three performance texts

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Part 1, performed at Entrepôt du Congo, Antwerp, January 2016.

“The sea is a smooth space par excellence: open water always moved by the wind, the sun and the stars, nomadically traversable by noise, colour and celestial bearings. Increased navigation of the open water resulted in demands for its striation. Although this took hold progressively, the year 1440, when Portuguese discoverers introduced the first nautical charts, marked a turning point in the striation of the sea. Maps with meridians, parallels, longitudes, latitudes and territories gridded the oceans, making distances calculable and measurable. It meant the beginning of the great explorations – and of the transatlantic slave trade and the expansion of the European State apparatus. The smooth and the striated concern the political and politics.” (Lysen, F and Pisters, P 2012, ’Introduction: the Smooth and the Striated’, Deleuze Studies, vol. 6, no.1, 2012, pp. 1-5. This quotation from p. 1.)















natural gas



palm oil
















sweet potatoes




(A list of resources produced in Democratic Republic of Congo compiled from multiple web searches.)

Part 2, performed on the zigzagging indent of escalators at the MAS museum, Antwerp, January 2016.

Excerpts from ‘Correspondence and Report From His Majesty’s Consul at Boma Respecting the Administration of the Independent State of the Congo’, commonly referred to as ‘The Casement Report to the UK parliament’, 1904.

Definition of indent from web search undertaken during group discussions at MUKHA.

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‘At F* I spent four days. I had visited this place in August 1887 when the line of villages comprising the settlement contained from 4000 to 5000 people. Most of these villages today are entirely deserted, the forest having grown over the abandoned sites, and the entire community at the present date cannot number more than 500 souls. There is no government station at F*, but the government telegraph line which connects Léopoldville with Coquilhatville, the headquarters of the equator district, runs through the once town lands of the F* villages close to the river bank. The people of the riverside towns, and from 20 miles inland, have to keep the line clear of undergrowth, and in many places the telegraph road serves as a useful public path between neighbouring villages. Some of the natives of the neighbourhood complained that for this compulsory utilitarian service they had received no renumeration of any kind; and those at a distance that they found it hard to feed themselves when far from their homes they were engaged on this task. Inquiry in the neighbourhood established that no payment for this work had seemingly been made for fully a year.’

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‘The F * villages have to supply kwanga (the prepared cassava root already referred to) for the neighbouring wood-cutting post, and the quantity required of them is, they asserted, in excess, of their means of supply and out of proportion to the value received in exchange. The supply required of them was fixed, I found, at 380 kwanga (or boiled cassava puddings) every six days, each pudding weighing from 4| lb. to 6 lb., or a total of from 1,700 lb. to 1 ton weight of carefully prepared food- stuffs per week. For this a payment of one brass rod per kwanga is made, giving a sum of 19 fr. in all for the several villages whose task it is to keep the.wood post victualled. These villages by careful computation I reckoned contained 240 persons all told—men, women, and children. In addition to preparing and carrying this food a considerable distance to the Government post, these people have to take their share in keeping the telegraph line clear and in supplying Government workmen. One elderly man was arrested at the period of my visit to serve as a soldier and was taken to Bolobo, 40 miles away, but was subsequently released upon representations made by a missionary who knew him. The number of wood-cutters at the local post is about thirty I was informed, so that the amount of food levied is beyond their requirements, and the excess is said to he sold by them at a profit to the crews of passing steamers. At one of the smallest of these P* villages, where there are not more than ten persons all told, and only three of these women able to prepare and cook the food, 40 kwanga (180 lb. to 270 lb. weight of food) had to be supplied every week at a payment of 40 rods (2 fr.). These people said: " How can we possibly plant and weed our gardens, seek and prepare and boil the cassava, make it into portable shape, and then carry it nearly a day's journey to the post ? Moreover, if the kwanga we make are a little small or not well-cooked, or if we complain that the rods given us in settlement are too short, as they sometimes are, then we are beaten by the wood-cutters, and sometimes we are detained several days to cut firewood as a punishment." Statements of this kind might be tediously multiplied.’

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‘The result of this expedition, which took place towards the end of 1900, was that in fourteen small villages traversed seventeen persons disappeared. Sixteen of these •whose names were given to me were killed by the soldiers, and their bodies recovered i by their friends, and one was reported as missing. Of those killed eleven were men, v three women, and one a boy child of 5 years. Ten persons were tied up and taken away as prisoners, but were released on payment of sixteen goats by their friends, except one, a child, who died at Bolobo. In addition 48 goats were taken away and 225 fowls ; several houses were burned, and a quantity of their owners' property either pillaged or destroyed.’

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‘At the village of H *, some 4 or 5 miles from the Government post, which I visited, I found the village to number some forty adult. males with their families. This village has to supply weekly to the Government post 400 of these loaves (say 1,250 lb. weight of food) for which a payment of 20 if. (400 rods) is made. The people of H* told me that when short of cassava from their own fields for the preparation of this supply, they bought the root in the local market and had to pay for it in the raw state just twice what they received for the prepared and cooked product they delivered at the post.’

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‘The insufficiency of food generally observable in this part of the Congo would seem to account for much sickness, and probably for the mental depression of the natives I so often observed, itself a frequent cause of disease. The Chief of the Government post ai G * during a part of my stay there told me that he thought the district was quite exhausted, and that it must be ever increasingly difficult to obtain food from it for the public requirements of the local administration.’

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‘They went on to declare, when asked why they had fled, that,they had endured such ill-treatment at the hands of the Government officials and the Government soldiers in their own country that life had become intolerable, that nothing had remained for them at home hut to be killed for failure to bring in a certain amount of rubber or to die from starvation or exposure in their attempts to satisfy the demands made upon them.’

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‘The population of the lake-side towns would seem to have diminished within the last ten years by 60 or 70 per cent.’

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‘He pulled up his loin cloth and, pointing to where he had been flogged with a chiciotte; said: "If I complained I should only get more of these.”'

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‘I have dwelt upon the condition of P * and the towns I visited around.. Lake Mantumba in my notes taken at the time, and these are appended hereto (Inclosure 3).*' A careful investigation of the conditions of native life around the lake confirmed the truth of the statements made to me—that the great decrease in Population, the dirty and ill-kept towns, and the complete absence of goats, sheep, or fowls—once very plentiful in this country—were to be attributed above all else to the continued effort made during many years to compel the natives to work india-rubber. • Large bodies of native troops had formerly been quartered in the. district, and the Punitive measures undertaken to this end had endured for a considerable period. Luring the course of these operations there'had been much loss of life, accompanied, I fear, by a somewhat general mutilation of the dead,.as-proof that the soldiers had done their duty. Each village I visited around the lake, save that of Q * and one other, had been abandoned by its inhabitants. To some of these villages the people have only just returned ; to others they are only now returning. In one I found the hare and burnt poles of what had been dwellings left standing, and at another—that of R *—the people had fled at the approach of my steamer, and despite the loud cries of my native guides on hoard, nothing could induce them to return, and it was im- possible to hold any intercourse with them. At the three succeeding villages I visited beyond R *, in traversing the lake towards the south, the inhabitants all fled at the approach of the steamer, and it was only when they found whose the vessel was that they could be induced to return. At one of these villages, S*,-after confidence had been restored and the fugitives had been induced to come in from the surrounding forest, where they had hidden themselves, I saw women coming hack carrying their babies, their household utensils, and even the food they had hastily snatched up, up to a late hour of the evening. Meeting some of these returning women in one of the fields I asked them why they had run away at my approach, and they said, smiling. " We thought you were Bnla Matadi " (i.e.] '.- men of the.Government "). Fear of this kind was formerly unknown on the Upper'Congo.; and in much more out-of-the-way places visited many years ago the people flocked from all sides to greet a white stranger. But to-day the apparition of a white man's steamer evidently gave the signal for instant flight.’

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‘Men, he said, still came to him whose hands had been cut off by the Government soldiers during those evil days, and he said there were still many victims of this species of mutilation in the surrounding country. Two cases of the kind came to my actual notice while I was in the.lake. One, a young man, both of whose hands had been beaten off with the butt ends of rifles against a tree, the other a young lad of 11 or 12 years of age. whose right hand was cut off at the wrist. This hoy described the circumstances of his mutilation, and, in answer to my inquiry, said that although wounded at the time he was perfectly sensible of the severing of his wrist, hut lay still fearing that if he moved he would he killed. In both these cases the Government soldiers had been accompanied by white officers whose names were, given to "me. ' Of six natives (one a girl, three little, boys, one youth, and one old woman) who had been mutilated in this way during the rubber régime, all except one were dead at the date of my visit. The old woman had died at the beginning of this year, and her niece described to me how the act of mutilation in her case had been accomplished. The day I left Lake Mantumba five men whose hands had been cut off came to the village of T * across the lake to see me.’

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Part 3, performed on the panorama rooftop of the MAS museum overlooking the harbour of Antwerp, January 2016.

Re-edited version performed at Piet Zwart Institute, February 2016. Re-edit includes indentation as section markers.

Second re-edited version submitted to the wiki archive, May 2016. Second re-edit includes attributions of source materials where possible.

Could the desire for the fully automated movements of goods also be a desire for silence, for the tyranny of a single anecdote?

Decolonizing in the future tense, the elimination of this gap between image and essence

I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood. That the speaking profits me, beyond any other effect. Each of us is here now because in one way or another we share a commitment to language and to the power of language, and to the reclaiming of that language which has been made to work against us. In the transformation of silence into language and action, it is vitally necessary for each one of us to establish or examine her function in that transformation and to recognize her role as vital within that transformation.

25% return on capital

20,000 cars per day

means of interrupting work limited to explosion

histories that cross geographies

transportation of methods and strategies

soft values of seaports

carbon democracy

thinking in local specifics

We therefore have to rethink the human not from the perspective of its mastery of the Creation as we used to, but from the perspective of its finitude and its possible extinction.

what the frack?

(Said Allan Sekula, Achille Mbembe, Audre Lorde, Wiebe Eekman, Rachel O’Reilly, Eric Van Hooydonk, Timothy Mitchell, http://www.whatthefrack.eu/#report and notebook entries taken during group discussions.)

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Biopolitics exists where the foremost priority, in immediate experience, is given to what belongs to the potential dimension of human existence: not the spoken word but the faculty to speak; not work actually done but the generic capacity to produce

capital has been leaving labour more rapidly than people have been developing political subjectivities outside of labour

la commissaire européenne en charge du Transport, Violeta Bulc, a écrit une lettre au ministre de l'Emploi Kris Peeters pour lui demander d'adapter la loi et de libéraliser le système de "pool". Ce système qui n'autorise que les dockers reconnus à travailler dans un port est au coeur de la loi Major.

my engine doesn’t feel or think

(Said unattributed, Rachel O’Reilly quoting Marina Vischmidt and rtbf.be.)

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to whom do I owe the woman I have become

to whom do I owe the power behind my voice, what strength I have become, yeasting up like sudden blood from under the bruised skin’s blister?

the soft skills I use as a service worker have a direct lineage from colonisation

stock and tally

sugar overboard

by the time they knew what they were already involved in they were already implicated

mussels served in season, in winter there's a three-course beer-based menu

Wij zoeken gemotiveerde mensen met zin voor hygiëne, stiptheid en verantwoordelijkheid. U bent klantvriendelijk en heeft een ruime werkervaring in de bediening.


writing poetry at nighttime

from each according to his ability, to each according to his need

(Said Audre Lorde, notebook entries taken during group discussions, Horta Grand Café website and Karl Marx.)

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colonization itself was a fundamental negation of time.

terres domainales

terres vacantes

terra nullia

domaine privé

domaine de la couronne

force publique

To extract the rubber, instead of tapping the vines, the Congolese workers would slash them and lather their bodies with the rubber latex. When the latex hardened, it would be scraped off the skin in a painful manner, as it took off the worker's hair with it.

political power goes hand in hand with the control of trade networks and the exploitation of natural resources

spooky action at a distance

discomfort is a necessary precondition for growth

(Said Achille Mbembe, Mare Liberum, wikipedia entry on history of Congo Free State, and notebook entries taken during group discussions.)

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logistics and concrete

the wrench on the bench

suppression of smell

displacement by income differentials

over determined ports

passive voice and italicisation

attention to the specificities of the abstract

anecdotes and atomisation

sea law and the eminent domain

or the freedom of the seas, or the right which belongs to the dutch to take part in the east indian trade

no limits

fair game

the sea always exceeds the frame

the voice that speaks that has no author

the predicament that you’re in when you imagine a future

(Said notebook entries taken during group discussions, Allan Sekula and Mare Liberum.)

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aggressive heuristics

logistics and warfare

the laying out of infrastructure in violence continues producing violence

populations produced with differential degrees of violence

the sea as an aesthetic element

the sea as an unstable element

what happens when you insert your body into the authorship? can you/I/we really be vulnerable or are we just kidding ourselves?



cutting off

fragmentation of power

the building and the passenger become interchangeable

the passenger and the commodity become interchangeable


snip snip snip

how to deal with foundational violence other than just representing the facts?

(Said notebook entries taken during group discussions and Keller Easterling.)

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the erosion of the subject

containerisation as governance

how we vote is not how we party

But I would make a distinction in this case between ‘body’ and ‘flesh’ and impose that distinction as the central one between captive and liberated subject-positions. In that sense, before the ‘body’ there is the ‘flesh’, that zero degree of social conceptualisation that does not escape concealment under the brush of discourse, or the reflexes of iconography…If we think of the ‘flesh’ as a primary narrative, then we mean its seared, divided, ripped-apartness, riveted to the ship’s hole, fallen, or ‘escaped’ overboard.

this is is our hapticality, our love.

fragile communities

(Said Keller Easterling, Fred Moten and Stefano Harney, Hortense Spillers and notebook entries taken during group discussions.)

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subject without subject

compressing rather than distilling

embedded histories compacted in languages

how to think of a subject without a subject?

how to think of a politics without site?

a standpoint of no standpoint

This document was deliberately written as a spoken text.

(Said Fred Moten and Stefano Harney, Achille Mbembe and notebook entries taken during group discussions.)

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