Kunstinstituut Melly

Kunstinstituut Melly

Kunstinstituut Melly

Stijn Kemper and Yahaira Brito Morfe, Wie is Melly (location shot). A production for Melly TV Episode 1: Vulnerability, featuring an adapted version of Ken Lum’s artwork Melly Shum Hates Her Job, 1990.


January 26, 2021
Kunstinstituut Melly
Name launch activities and identity
January 27–February 10, 2021
Facebook / Instagram

Kunstinstituut Melly—the new name for the institution formerly known as Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art—will launch publicly on January 27, 2020. The renaming results from a three year multi-faceted initiative aimed at achieving an institutional transformation. An artistic program and a new visual identity will accompany the name launch of Kunstinstituut Melly. Both come together in Melly TV, a community television program that connects the institution’s transformation with commissioned art for the screen and timely conversations. 

Please join us at the launch on Wednesday, January 27 at 8pm (GMT+1)

-Online: Kunstinstituut Melly will stream Melly TV on its website and social media platforms. It will also be streamed on e-flux Video & Film.

-Television: The Dutch network Open Rotterdam will broadcast Melly TV.

In three different episodes, Melly TV opens up the learnings of the institutional name-change. It asks how vulnerability is necessary for change. It investigates how the name change is connected to educational reform. And, it recognizes and celebrates ongoing processes of change. With talk-shows, neighborhood guests and commissioned artworks for the screen, Melly TV is presented in partnership with Open Rotterdam and developed with consulting partners Lilith Magazine and Brand New Guys. 

The new visual identity for Kunstinstituut Melly is the outcome of the institution’s annual Work-Learn Project (WLP). This third edition of the WLP was developed in collaboration with the Dutch design academy, Werkplaats Typografie (Arnhem) of ArtEZ University of the Arts, and Wkshps (Berlin and New York), a multidisciplinary design workshop. Six graphic designers—Callum Dean, Wooesok Jang, Nina Schouten, Alexander Tanazefti, Emily Turner, Yan Zhihan—came to work and learn with Armand Mevis and Anniek Brattinga from Werkplaats Typografie, Prem Krishnamurthy from Wkshps, and the team at Kunstinstituut Melly.

Kunstinstituut Melly’s Background
In 2017, a group of cultural practitioners publicly challenged the name of the institution formerly known as Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art with an Open Letter. Their letter was triggered by artist Wendelin van Oldenborgh’s Cinema Olanda: Platform presented at the institution that year. Both the letter and such project made clear the need for an urgent historical awareness, the needs of an increasingly multi-vocal society, and the pressing concern of systemic racism. In response, the institution vowed to change its name. On September 30, 2020, the name Kunstinstituut Melly was chosen on the basis of its capacity for maintaining accountability and responsiveness towards social narratives, and to continue the process of becoming a more welcoming and daring cultural institution—actively challenging racism in both the present and the past—into the future. 

The FKAWDW is one of the few cultural institutions in the world to have launched a multi-faceted, formal name change initiative. Using the need to respond to the de-colonial movement as an aggregator for deep institutional transformation, a starting point was to question the role of contemporary art within society. As a result, contemporary art, collective learning and public engagement lie at the heart of all their activities.

The name “Melly” originally refers to the artwork Melly Shum Hates Her Job (1990) by Canadian artist Ken Lum, permanently installed on the building’s façade since 1990. “Melly” has come to signify not only the image of a female, working-class “anti-hero,” but also a new relationship between the institution, the street, the city, and the communities that it is part of. This name was chosen as a bold, unique name that maintains the memory of the renaming process and the community-led transformation that the institution has undertaken.

The institution first opened its doors to the public on January 27, 1990. Selecting the same date for announcing our new name in 2021, is an acknowledgement of the institution’s history.

RSVP for Kunstinstituut Melly
Kunstinstituut Melly
January 26, 2021

Thank you for your RSVP.

Kunstinstituut Melly will be in touch.


e-flux announcements are emailed press releases for art exhibitions from all over the world.

Agenda delivers news from galleries, art spaces, and publications, while Criticism publishes reviews of exhibitions and books.

Architecture announcements cover current architecture and design projects, symposia, exhibitions, and publications from all over the world.

Film announcements are newsletters about screenings, film festivals, and exhibitions of moving image.

Education announces academic employment opportunities, calls for applications, symposia, publications, exhibitions, and educational programs.

Sign up to receive information about events organized by e-flux at e-flux Screening Room, Bar Laika, or elsewhere.

I have read e-flux’s privacy policy and agree that e-flux may send me announcements to the email address entered above and that my data will be processed for this purpose in accordance with e-flux’s privacy policy*

Thank you for your interest in e-flux. Check your inbox to confirm your subscription.