Part of the
exhibition

In the Presence of Absence proposals for the museum collection

5 Sep 2020 until 31 Jan 2021

Artist Page — 2 Sep 2020

In the Presence of Absence, the bi-annual show of proposals for the museum collection, presents 23 artists (collectives). This artist page includes a text on the work and an artist contribution.

The Future ain’t What it Used to Be (2020) tells a story from the historical and contemporary perspectives of the transatlantic textile trade conducted by the Netherlands with Indonesia and West Africa. Textiles play a part in this story not only as a consumer product, but also as bearers of meaning. Collectively, the printed fabrics can be seen as an archive of memories: of the countries from which they came, and of the worldwide connections that have contributed to the forming of national identities. When worn on the body, they connect the personal with the collective and society. The Future ain’t What it Used to Be challenges and interrogates notions of identity, political messaging, and economic structures.

Farida Sedoc uses the history of textiles to shed light on the dynamic that exists between cultural heritage, political power structures, money, and globalization, and more specifically to examine the role of women in this context. Historically, women have been the makers, traders, and wearers of these fabrics, and the images in The Future ain’t What it Used to Be, which are drawn from the artist’s research into the subject, refer to this context of female entrepreneurship. By juxtaposing and intertwining patterns and iconic images, Sedoc shows the extent to which personal and social stories are intrinsically interwoven.

Illustration by Haitham Haddad after Farida Sedoc’s “The Future ain’t What it Used to Be,” 2020.
Illustration by Haitham Haddad after Farida Sedoc’s “The Future ain’t What it Used to Be,” 2020.

Sedoc’s work often challenges the classical structures of Western art, for example in her 2017 project Freetown Lounge and the installation Electric Relaxation at the Belleville House from 2019. In these two works, Sedoc uses scenographic techniques to turn on its head the entrenched notion of the white cube as a neutral model for exhibition, with floor rugs bearing emotive mottos such as “sit down be humble,” “defend womanhood,” and “ownership is key,” and inviting visitors to actively engage with the space, the work itself, and each other. Here again we see the artist using textile objects whose roots can be traced to the legacy and evolution of Black music, protest, and literature. These cultural references yield a multilayered work that gives meaning to the ambition to create an environment in which people can make contact with one another. 

Farida Sedoc (b. 1980) studied at the Sandberg Instituut in Amsterdam. She is an artist, entrepreneur, and founder of her own brand, Hosselaer. Sedoc’s work has been exhibited at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, W139 in Amsterdam, and Het Hem in Zaandam.

Farida Sedoc, “The Future ain’t What it Used to Be,” 2019, collage on paper, 400 cm x 300 cm, screen prints on cotton (each 100 cm x 150 cm, “Gentleman’s Agreement, Welcome To Society, The Sun Rises In The East”). Photo: Tom Janssen.
Farida Sedoc, “The Future ain’t What it Used to Be,” 2019, collage on paper, 400 cm x 300 cm, screen prints on cotton (each 100 cm x 150 cm, “Gentleman’s Agreement, Welcome To Society, The Sun Rises In The East”). Photo: Tom Janssen.
Farida Sedoc, “The Future ain’t What it Used to Be,” 2019, collage on paper, 400 cm x 300 cm, screen prints on cotton (each 100 cm x 150 cm, “Gentleman’s Agreement, Welcome To Society, The Sun Rises In The East”). Photo: Tom Janssen.
Farida Sedoc, “The Future ain’t What it Used to Be,” 2019, collage on paper, 400 cm x 300 cm, screen prints on cotton (each 100 cm x 150 cm, “Gentleman’s Agreement, Welcome To Society, The Sun Rises In The East”). Photo: Tom Janssen.

Artist Contribution

Farida Sedoc, “It’s Funny How Money Change a Situation: Exploring Female Figures in Hip Hop,” 2020. Collage. Courtesy the artist.
Farida Sedoc, “It’s Funny How Money Change a Situation: Exploring Female Figures in Hip Hop,” 2020. Collage. Courtesy the artist.

“Your diploma is your husband.” Growing up in Amsterdam, this expression was commonly used by my mom and aunties while walking around in the kitchen, all busy preparing food, laughing, and talking loud. The matriarchal Caribbean scene that I was brought up in always emphasized the importance of education. Where community, knowledge of self, and financial independence were pivotal to a woman’s existence and future. That’s why I think I recognized the image of the Queen Mother of Hip Hop and why it spoke to me so much. I’ve already seen this, known this, and experienced this archetype. The female rappers who looked like African-centered icons in the way they dressed and carried themselves. In their lyrics, the way they referred to themselves as “Asiatic Black women,” “Nubian queens,” “intelligent Black women,” or “sistas droppin’ science to the people” suggested their culturally layered identity, which I as a teenager got to explore and develop. Since its first days in the “golden era,” hip hop has moved beyond its original borders of the United States and become the voice of the youth around the world. The rich history of hip hop is a big part of my life and has been a great influence growing up, laying the foundation of my being and my creative endeavors. During this era, innovative artists arose to produce new sounds in production and lyricism which made the genre even more powerful and gained mainstream success. Women have been representing in hip hop culture ever since the 1970s, when the culture got its start in the South Bronx, and they represent to this day as B-girls, female breakers, graffiti artists, DJs, and MCs. Today, we can add to the mix entrepreneurship, activism, and academic writing. Due to this I am fortunate to be able to source from the theoretical writings of several women with a hip-hop state of mind. Sylvia Robinson immediately comes to mind when thinking of a Queen Mother of Hip Hop. She could be given this title because of her instrumental part in the start of hip hop as a business. Robinson co-founded Sugar Hill Records, responsible for hip hop’s first number one monster hit on record, “Rappers Delight” by The Sugarhill Gang, followed by “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, a hip hop classic which you could call the first socially critical rap song. Before this moment hip hop was very popular in NYC and had many very talented DJs and MCs but no one had been able to make a record before Robinson created this avenue in the music business. She herself was an artist and had a Top 40 hit on the charts, “Pillow Talk,” a sultry soft-spoken track. Clearly, she was a music lover, had a great ear, and had vision beyond what we could see. The zine dives into hip hop culture as music style, social criticism, and economic influence, with special attention to the female voices in the genre. I want to discuss the value of their message and the different archetypes of women that can coexist in the genre, through the rise of three iconic rap stars each representing a span of two decades and embodying the transition of time in music and business. And also to see how their talent and focus brought financial success and how this played a part in their evolution from artists to entrepreneurs. The message they carried throughout their careers of personal exploration, artistry, and social responsibility. Where singers have their voices and musicians have their instruments, an MC’s main currency is their story, which makes their narrative most valuable for generations to come.