patricia kaersenhout: Visions of Possibilities

Visions of Possibilities presents an extensive body of work by Afro-Dutch visual artist patricia kaersenhout (Den Helder, 1966). kaersenhout is one of the leading artists exploring the lingering legacies of slavery and colonialism within and beyond the Dutch context.

On view: 10.06.2023 - 05.11.2023. 

Guest curator: Chandra Frank 

With Visions of Possibilities, the Bonnefanten presents the first Dutch retrospective of the leading Afro-Dutch visual artist patricia kaersenhout (Den Helder, 1966). kaersenhout invites visitors to consider relations of power, and the long-term implications of histories of empire and colonialism. 

Born in the Netherlands as the child of Surinamese parents, kaersenhout is interested in questions of belonging, place and migration. Working across several mediums such as drawings, textile, mixed media, performance, film and installations, she explores the movement of the African diaspora and broader themes such as gender, race and sexuality. kaersenhout’s artistic practice is shaped by a Black feminist approach to artistic production. In this retrospective exhibition, she asks visitors to consider what other kinds of futures are possible.

patricia kaersenhout in front of her artwork Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner Too? (2017) in De Appel, Amsterdam, 2019. Photo: Aatjan Renders.

Archives, memory and imagination

With Visions of Possibilities, kaersenhout offers a generative shift away from the dominant white male art canon. “I find it important that people do not look at history in a neutral way, even if they feel slavery happened a long time ago”, kaersenhout explains. “People who still say: ’I did not know that’ do not have the right to speak anymore.” Bonnefanten wholeheartedly provides a space for this viewpoint, which disrupts static notions of race and counters dominant Western perspectives.

kaersenhout’s work demonstrates the importance of rethinking official and dominant archives, and offers other kinds of imaginaries across geographies. kaersenhout is the first Black woman artist to have a large retrospective exhibition in the Bonnefanten. Further, the exhibition is entirely made and curated by two women of colour, patricia kaersenhout and Chandra Frank.

patricia kaersenhout, Le retour des femmes colibris (video still), 2022, short film. Commissioned by CBK Zuidoost. Collection Bonnefanten

It's the museum's

kaersenhout points our attention to forgotten and neglected histories. For example, the series The Hummingbird Women (2022) and the film Le retour des femmes colibris (2022) take on the role of Josephine Baker, Suzanne Césaire, Frida Kahlo, Paulette Nardal and Jeanne Nardal in shaping the revolutionary Négritude movement (the inclusion of Frida Kahlo is poetic licence on the part of the artist). kaersenhout brings these Black women, who decisively shaped the movement, to the forefront of her work.

The film Le retour des femmes colibris won the Best Short Feature: Festival Director’s Award at the Cannes Short Film Festival 2023 and received several nominations, including Best Cinematography ARFF Barcelona 2023. Both The Hummingbird Women and Le retour des femmes colibris have recently been acquired by the Bonnefanten.

Tribute to forgotten Black women and women of colour 

Through her art, kaersenhout invites viewers to develop a critical lens. For example, in her most famous work Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner Too? (2017-2021), she provides a nuanced critique of the work The Dinner Party (1979) by Judy Chicago. Both works use the same metaphor: a table that offers a seat to (historic) women who deserve more attention than they received in the past. In kaersenhout’s view, Chicago’s work pays homage to strong women from a dominant Western perspective, but denies the presence of Black women and women of colour. In response, the artist honours a total of sixty Black women and women of colour with four triangular tables. In 2021, this work was acquired by four prominent Dutch museums, which each have one table in their possession. The installation of the four hybrid tables is exhibited for the first time in its entirety in Visions of Possibilities in Bonnefanten.

patricia kaersenhout, Of Palimpsest and Erasure #2 & #3, 2023, woven tapestry. Production: Textile Lab Tilburg. Courtesy of the artist.

In addition to very early and her most recent work, the Bonnefanten also shows work that has never been exhibited before, such as Of Palimpsests and Erasure #2 & #3, for which kaersenhout studied the history of colonialism and botany. She illuminates the ignored role that enslaved Black and indigenous women from Suriname played in Maria Sibylla Merian’s research into insects and plants. These two huge tapestries were first shown to the public in a special exhibition pavilion at Pinkpop 2023, and now this brand-new work is on view at Visions of Possibilities.

Monograph Open-Ended: Visions of Possibilities. Photo: Jap Sam Books.

Monograph Open-Ended Visions of Possibilities

The monograph Open-Ended Visions of Possibilities is published in conjunction with the exhibition. This publication contains thoughtful conversations with Gloria Wekker and rolando vazquez, among others, insightful contributions, and poetry in which Black feminist perspectives and forgotten histories are illuminated. The book is published by Jap Sam Books in partnership with the Bonnefanten, supported by the Mondriaan Fund and Jaap Harten Fonds. Edited by Chandra Frank, Eleonoor Jap Sam and patricia kaersenhout, and designed by Inedition (Eva van der Schans). Open-Ended Visions of Possibilities is in English with a Dutch insert and is available in the Bonnefanten museum shop, among others. Price: € 35,-. ISBN: 789492852915.

This exhibition is made possible by:

patricia kaersenhout: Visions of Possibilities


Note for press:
For more information, interviews and visual material, please contact Debbie Jans via or +31 (0)6-22290184.

Leading image: patricia kaersenhout, The politics of the Black female body #13 (edited), 2012. Courtesy of liesbeth Bik, Rotterdam


No results found.