February 16, 2018 - Van Abbemuseum - Democratic Self-Administration of Rojava and Studio Jonas Staal: Museum as Parliament
February 16, 2018

Van Abbemuseum

New World Summit - Rojava, 2015-18. Democratic Self-Administration of Rojava and Studio Jonas Staal. Photo: Younes Bouadi.


Democratic Self-Administration of Rojava and Studio Jonas Staal
Museum as Parliament
The People’s Parliament of Rojava
March 17, 2018–March 17, 2019

Opening: March 17, 3–6pm

Van Abbemuseum
Bilderdijklaan 10
The Netherlands
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 11am–5pm

T +31 40 238 1000

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In March 2018 the New World Summit – Rojava, also known as the “People’s Parliament of Rojava,” will be inaugurated in Dêrik, Cezîrê Canton. Simultaneously, on March 17, a reconstruction of the parliament will open in the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven: adding a unique space for public assembly to the functions of the museum. 

The Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, also known as Rojava (West-Kurdistan) was declared independent by Kurdish revolutionaries and their Arab and Assyrian allies in 2012. Rather than an independent state, Rojava is organized as a “stateless democracy,” aimed at local self-governance, with an emphasis on gender equality and communal economy. Despite ongoing threats by the Islamic State and recent attacks of Turkey, the Rojavans have been able to create a new social model with universities and cultural centres, all reflected in the internationalist collaboration of the New World Summit – Rojava.

Amina Osse, Chair of the Committee of Foreign Affairs, commissioned artist Jonas Staal and his New World Summit team during a 2014 research travel to the region to develop a new public parliament that would symbolize the achievements of the Rojava Revolution. Osse proposed this parliament would become a public space, to be used by local communes for demonstrations, cultural events, and international conferences. This public parliament would be a symbol of a new world in the making, while simultaneously being one of the places where this new world is made.

Inspired by New World Summit – Rojava parliament the Van Abbemuseum wants to experiment with new forms of public assembly within a public art museum. Considering the multiple moments of crisis in traditional, western democratic states, the museum parliament seeks to widen and diversify the platforms within which stated and stateless humans can act. Alongside the parliament, an exhibition documents the process of its conceptualisation and visual design. For the period of at least a year, this new facility in the museum will be programmed by the Rojavan diaspora in the Netherlands and Europe as well as by the Van Abbemuseum and Staal’s team. It will introduce audiences to the philosophy of Rojava’s stateless democracy, its challenges and achievements, its art, culture, music, and poetry. It will be a space for teaching and practicing democracy anew.

During the inauguration of the parliament in the Van Abbemuseum, Rojavan representatives, Kurdish thinkers and artists, as well as the Rojavan solidarity network, will assemble to present the revolutionary politics and culture of Rojava, discuss the current defense of Canton Afrîn, and the transformation of an art museum into a new public parliament.

The People’s Parliament of Rojava is a project by the Self-Administration of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria / Rojava; the municipality of Dêrik; Studio Jonas Staal; and the Van Abbemuseum, in collaboration with the Democratic Union Party (PYD); International Free Women Foundation (IFWF);  The Time Has Come; Kurdistan National Congress (KNK); Kurdish Democratic People’s Center Eindhoven; Demned - Council of Communities from Kurdistan; and Jineolojî Center of Research for Human and Social Sciences of Women.

This project would not have been possible without the work of the New World Academy (2013–16), co-founded by BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht, and Staal, which developed the first stages of exchange between Rojava and the Netherlands through its educational sessions and reader.

Financial partner
Mondriaan Fund

Van Abbemuseum
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Museum as Parliament
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