Theory — 26 Mar 2020

This day is curated by Patricia Pisters.

€ 3,- (excl. museum entrance) / Rietveld students free with registration

Teijin Auditorium, livestream in studio A
26 Mar, 10 am until 6 pm
Main language
In line with national policy relating to the coronavirus, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam will be temporarily closed for visitors until April 6 2020.

Colour... is new each time

— Roland Barthes

In his search to express universal harmony and order, Piet Mondrian decided to limit his formal vocabulary as a painter to the three primary colours (red, blue, and yellow), the three primary values (black, white, and grey), and the two primary directions (horizontal and vertical). On this day we relate to primary colours and values. However, instead of abstractions of universal harmony and order, we examine these colours of the primary spectrum in all its variegated appearances, their material-affective dimensions as well as their complex historic-socio-political associations and symbolic meanings. Russian filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein argued that colours (and even black and white) only come to life in a primordial orchestration of the senses that lies under the constellation of thoughts, memories, and associations that each work in itself reinvents and invokes in its own way. We move through the day in colour blocks; this is the only abstraction we keep intact. Engaging in a dialogue with artists and filmmakers, we discuss each primary colour in relation to the different ecologies in which it emerges and gains value in a range of different works.

With artworks, talks, and films by Danielle Dean, Ngozi Onwurah, Rossella Biscotti, Lucile Hadzihalilovic, Pieter Paul Pothoven, and Richard Misek.


Patricia Pisters  is a writer and researcher and professor of film and media culture at the University of Amsterdam where she teaches critical media theory and film-philosophy . Her work focuses on the transforming relations between body, brain, and aesthetics in transnational film, media, and culture. She has curated several conferences and events that combine academic and artistic approaches including and Geomediations (University of Amsterdam/Arizona State University/Mediamatic, 2018; Give me a Brain! (Rietveld Studium Generale, 2011); Worlding the Brain (Stedelijk Statements, 2017); Cinema Olanda: Black Figures, Black Voices (Witte de With, 2017); and the International Deleuze Studies Conference Connect, Continue, Create, which included the exhibition The Smooth and the Striated (University of Amsterdam/Huize Frankendael/Nieuw Dakota, 2010). In 2019 she was scholar in residence at EYE Filmmuseum and fellow at Cinepoetics Centre for Advanced Film Studies at the Free University of Berlin. Her publications include Filming for the Future (2016), The Neuro-Image (2012), and The Matrix of Visual Culture (2003). Her latest book New Blood in Contemporary Cinema: Women Directors and the Poetics of Horror appears in 2020 with Edinburgh University Press. For more publications and her video essays see:


Studium Generale Rietveld 2019—2020 focuses on histories, politics, and perceptions of colour in the creation and understanding aesthetic forms, social structures, and embodied experiences. Colour structures our daily life and our actions, our relationships with others and the spaces in which we live. Within different historical and cultural contexts, however, colours have very different symbolic, psychological, material, and socio-political meanings. Relating (to) Colour wants to see colour in art, science, technology, and life beyond the purely symbolic and aesthetic and not as self-evident or universal, but as a physical, material, cultural, and political phenomenon. We try to understand colour not only as visual, sensual, or textual but especially as a lived experience and relational concept that creates affect and agency.

Guest curators: Stefano Harney, Patricia Pisters, Ola Hassanain & Casco Art Institute, Taka Taka.

More information and a detailed program online soon.

Website Relating (to) Colour: