Whom should we listen to?
From whom should we learn?
Do you have a life experience or story you would like to share?
Could you speak about certain parts of this city or in this country or in this world that we don’t know enough about?
Do you have a specific knowledge or skill you would like to share?
Do you sometimes think you don’t know anything?
What is a moment of learning you will never forget?
Could you speak about certain periods in world history that should get more attention?
What would you like to unlearn?
BOK is a nomadic classroom, shared amongst co-learners, that can be found in different public spaces in the city of Brussels. BOK can host in between two and twenty people - with possibilities to shrink and expand. A public program is proposed, composed of and by different “bodies of knowledge” living in the area. Formats diverse between story-telling, reading, workshop, dialogue, play, listening sessions, etc. Every one can propose and every one can attend, following BOK's intentions.
BOK is a place for the exchange of non-dominant, underexposed and/or suppressed knowledge. It's intergenerational and inclusive (by at times being exclusive). BOK suspends dominant visions on what knowledge is and how it can be exchanged, contributing to a society that is socially just, generative instead of exploitative, and ecologically sustainable in a world that includes the human and the non-human.
BOK is a multi-linguistic and transcultural place with a poly-centric world view and alternative, embodied learning as connective tissue. In BOK we try to speak from positions we are maybe not necessarily used to speak from and we try to subvert the usual order in which voices are heard.
BOK is a polyphonic room for questioning, for “learning to learn from below”, where we are open to different kinds and types of knowledge and where we all know that we don't know.
BOK functions both as a platform, a meeting space and a tool. In BOK we refuse the detachment of the known from the knower, and suspend the division between mind, body and world.
BOK first emerged as an idea by artist Sarah Vanhee in 2016, while she was thinking back to her own experiences with schools, and how those formal experiences were in discordance with her eternal desire and pleasure to learn. Vanhee started to think of knowledge exchange as a performative and poetic act, an act of sharing and constructing together. She imagined how a public space could become a site for knowledge exchange amongst very diverse people in the city, gathering knowledge which could be useful for a society of today and tomorrow, that would be socially just and ecologically sustainable, not based on vague ideas shared by likeminded people, but on concrete collective intelligence. And how this place for learning could also be a place for listening, healing, remembering, imagining, through the entire consciousness of a human being, not only the rational part.
Sarah Vanhee is an artist who prefers to put radical imagination into practice, rather than trying to change existing realities. In that sense, BOK is a poetic and political proposal to the world. At the same time BOK, as an artistic work, clearly questions and informs existing knowledge institutions, from a feminist and decolonial perspective.
In the framework of this research on BOK, Vanhee is currently a doctoral student at ARIA and Conservatorium Antwerp, where she received a mandate for an artistic PHD.
Until 2022 BOK will be semi-nomadically present in different locations in Brussels, and later on, in different European cities. A “community of learners” is growing and, together with the BOK team, Vanhee develops different formats and understandings of what the nomadic classroom can be and how it can serve. Therefore, BOK is in constant transformation.
* Concepts as described above inspired by the work of bell hooks, Paolo, Freire, G.C. Spivak, Achille Mmembe, Audre Lorde, Donna Harraway, Grada Kilomba, N. El Sadaawi, Tagore, Olivia Rutazibwa and many others.
Sarah Vanhee, summer 2020.