Current Projects, Research, Past and Upcoming Exhibitions  

Below is a selection of current projects, research including recent and upcoming exhibitions in the Netherlands and USA.

The World Made Wondrous: The Dutch Collector’s Cabinet and the Politics of Possession

Artist Sithabile Mlotshwa born in Bulawayo Zimbabwe and based in the Netherlands, will participate in a major exhibition officially opening on the 13th of September 2023 at the LACMA Museum in Los Angeles where she will present work that is a response to the 17th century Dutch collection of the LACMA Museum.
The mixed-media work on paper A Phoenix of the Dutch Republic was produced for LACMA, and was expressly made to be a critical reflection on Abraham van Beyeren’s 1667 Banquet Still Life from the collection. For Mlotshwa, van Beyeren’s painting acts as a window to the luxuries of the seventeenth-century Netherlands, and A Phoenix of the Dutch Republic interrogates history’s omission of the colonial violence and genocide that made this wealth possible. The work will go on view at LACMA alongside the van Beyeren painting in the forthcoming exhibition The World Made Wondrous: The Dutch Collector’s Cabinet and the Politics of Possession, for which Mlotshwa has also contributed recorded commentaries for the digital audio guide.

Mlotshwa’s work confronts Dutch and European audiences who suffer from what she terms “colonial amnesia” by overlaying images that explicitly represent violent colonial realities onto imagery that excludes these histories. Through her practice, she highlights the voices of colonized communities whose voices have been erased in the romanticized version of history that continues to predominate in the Netherlands and across Europe. In Mlotshwa’s words, “as an artist coming from a colonized nation where colonialism utterly eradicated centuries of history, the legacies of colonialism are part of my lived experience. I use my art practice to challenge the whitewash of history by disrupting settler colonial narratives.”

Filled with over 300 objects including paintings, prints and sculptures, as well as gems, shells, and taxidermy, World Made Wondrous recreates a fictive 17th-century Dutch collector’s cabinet in order to examine the political and colonial histories of European collecting practices in the 17th century. As Europeans assembled their cabinets, they ordered the world in deliberate ways, asserting judgments and hierarchies on the value of natural materials, forms of labor, forms of craftsmanship, as well as human worth, often with dire and deadly consequences. The exhibition will interrogate the underlying agendas and structures that were fundamental to these collections—which are precursors to today’s European and American museums, including LACMA.

The visitor will be led through the exhibition with a digital audio guide that includes commentaries from experts across a wide variety of fields, produced expressly to expand the narratives of each object and their makers. The exhibition benefits from the important contributions of four contemporary artists: Sithabile Mlotshwa; Jennifer Ling Datchuk; Todd Gray;  and Uýra Sodoma; whose works, along with their commentaries in the audio guide, provide essential context and reflection on the historical narratives woven through the exhibition.

Save the date for the upcoming opening of Refresh Amsterdam Biennale where artist Sithabile Mlotshwa  will present the installation “MOKKUM” - not (Mokum) at the Refresh Amsterdam Biennale, officially opening on Friday evening, 6 October 2023.

Mokkum is a critical reflection on the impact of war and conflict in the world on today's city, and in particular on its inhabitants and social structures and in this case, in the context of Amsterdam.

The installation Mokkum, proposed and selected for Refresh Amsterdam is inspired by the origins of Amsterdam’s diversity which is also rooted in the suffering caused by war, religious conflict, colonialism, slavery and other crises

Refresh Amsterdam, a biennial event on Amsterdam City Culture features works by twenty contemporary artists from different disciplines. With their work, the makers show how war and conflict around the world and throughout time play a role in the city of Amsterdam.

The works will be on display at the Amsterdam Museum aan de Amstel and at various locations of partner institutions in the city.

Participating artists include:
Sithabile Mlotshwa, Nasam Abboud & Yazan Maksoud & Roua Jafar, Marcel van den Berg, Kristina Benjocki, Luan Buleshkaj, Dina Danish, Tina Farifteh, Ehsan Fardjadniya & Raul Balai, Gert Jan Kocken, Clinton Kabena, Susanne Khalil Yusef, Ayşen Kaptanoğlu, Senka Milutinović, Vika Mitrichenko, Pieter Paul Pothoven, Ratu R. Saraswati, Anika Schwarzlose & Elena Khurtova, Victor Sonna, Handan Tufan and We Sell Reality

Amsterdam Museum, Amstel 51, Amsterdam

Public program & Partners

Main partner: We Sell Reality

AGA LAB, de Appel, CBK Zuidoost, Framer Framed, International Institute of Social History (IISG), Kriterion, Melkweg Expo, Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam (OBA), OSCAM, Pakhuis de Zwijger, Paradiso, P/////AKT, Podium Mozaïek, Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, ROZENSTRAAT - a rose is a rose is a rose, Sociëteit Sexyland, Stichting NDSM-werf, The Black Archives, Tolhuistuin and W139


In Search of Ubuntu,( a search for what makes us human) is a major investigative -research based project, that reflects through the Artistic lens on our interconnected Colonial History, with the aim of understanding the Causes of the Reproduction of Violence, Inequality, Oppression, Racism, Sexism, Exploitation and Environmental degradation on the one hand and to bring to light and connect the dots, between this history, and the Current State of our World, from the perspective of "Trade", the East India and West companies.

It is a Search for Ubuntu, "what makes us human – and what connects us."

I chose the Dutch “Golden Age” as a point of departure because understanding the current state of our world and finding solutions to the climate crisis, poverty, inequality, racism and dismantling of the violent imperial capitalist structures, requires understanding how we got here in the first place. This important period of Dutch history, also connected to 17th century American Colonial history, nearly 400 years of Indonesian Colonial history, is vital in understanding the aftermath of the global power struggle between England and the Dutch Republic.

Research and Visual Mapping Projects and Chapters include: 

 The European Museum of Colonialism Chapters

  • The Dutch Museum of Colonialism
  • The British Museum of Colonialism
  • The French Museum of Colonialism
  • The Portuguese Museum of Colonialism
  • The Spanish Museum of Colonialism
  • The Belgian Museum of Colonialism
  • The Swedish Museum of Colonialism
  • The Danish Museum of Colonialism
  • The Swiss Museum of Colonial complicity
  • The Scotish Museum of Colonialism
  • Founding fathers of Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade
  • Inter caetera, Cartography and Papal bulls a
  • Colonial Complicity, Luxembourgers and the Belgian Congo
  • Westernisation
  • European Museum of Racism
  • East India and West Companies
  • Historical tiles
  • Weapon of Choice

The Visual Maps and Chapters per country and subject are an introduction into bodies of work presented in the form of a series. 

Heren XVII | Heren Zeventien Rethinking Coen’s Vision
Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6

The project Heren XVII |Heren Zeventien is a retracing and maping of Coen’s vision and the role the VOC Board of directors and each city they were based in played in this. The project, which includes research per city where the VOC Board members were stationed in, includes  a traveling  exhibition presented in Chapters.

Started in Amsterdam in 2021, with the project, “Heren XVII | VOC – Kamer Amsterdam – Rethinking Coen’s Vision Part 1,” the project will travel to the different cities where each chapter will reflect on the City’s role and function. The mapping and produced works will grow as the project moves from one city to the other.

The cities where the chapters will take place include: Zeeland (Middelburg), responsible for one-fourth of the activities, Noorderkwartier or West-Friesland (Enkhuizen and Hoorn), which provided one-eighth of the activities where Maaze (Delft and Rotterdam), also had one-eighth of the activities.

The research, visual mapping and travelling exhibition, broken down into chapters is as follows:

  • Heren XVII | VOC – Kamer Amsterdam | Rethinking Coen’s Vision Part 1

  • Heren XVII | VOC – Kamer Zeeland | Rethinking – Coen’s Vision Part 2

  • Heren XVII | VOC – Kamer Delft | Rethinking Coen’s Vision part 3

  • Heren XVII | VOC – Kamer Rotterdam | Rethinking Coen’s Vision part 4

  • Heren XVII | VHerenOC – Kamer Enkhuizen | Rethinking Coen’s Vision Chamber part 6

  • Heren XVII | VOC – Kamer Hoorn | Rethinking Coen’s Vision Part 6 

After chapter 6, all the produced and exhibited works in the 6 chapters will be presented in the form of a solo exhibition. Details of the presentation of all the six chapters will be available in due time.

Surinamensium Part 1 and 2 Rethinking the gaze of Maria Sibylla Merian - Naturalist, Scientific illustrator and Adventurer

The project and takeoff point of my reflection on Maria Sibylla Merian is inspired by Elizabeth Polcha’s critical writing on Merian and anchored in my Search of Ubuntu. It is a critical look at Merian’s status as an enslaver; her dependence on enslaved indigenous and African cultivators for her study of plants and insects in Surinam; a study she undertook by exploiting the labor of enslaved African and indigenous guides, most of whom were women. The unnamed enslaved women’s experiences of coerced sexual reproduction, abuse, and rape in Suriname and her reference to enslaved women’s reliance on infanticide and abortion to prevent their children from suffering the same fate.

It is also a critical look at Merian’s power as an actor within a slave economy and as a manager of enslaved labourers, and how in her publication, there is an absence of these women/“human possessions”, the cruelty of slavery, the unnamed indigenous woman—likely the person she calls “my Indian” taken captive by Merian and Dorothea on their voyage back to Holland in June 1701. And the fact that details of this woman’s life beyond her servile captivity on the journey to Amsterdam are unknown and were not documented by Merian.

Rethinking Maria Sibylla Merian’s gaze is also a questioning of her claim of ownership of an indigenous woman who could serve as a resource for plant knowledge which in turn gave Merian status within the intellectual networks of naturalism. Not only could Merian boast of drawing specimens from life in Suriname, she returned to Amsterdam in possession of a living informant. 

The project, done in chapters includes research, dialogues, and an exhbition.
Part 1 was realised in 2022 with contributions from Dr. M.L. (Mikki) Stelder and Rudy Chotoe aka di Damsko.

Weapon of Choice, Sexual Violence and its link to Global Capitalism

Weapon of Choice, Sexual Violence and its link to Global Capitalism, came about as a result of two documentaries I stumbled upon; “City of Joy on Netflix” and “Inside Story, – “The Silent Male Victims of Rape” by Journalist Jane Dutton, on Aljeezera. The one documentary addresses rape and the challenges of male victims that remain invisible, denied and suffer in silence, while the other goes deeper by connecting the dots between sexual violence, on women and children and its links to conflict minerals. Through my project, I attempt to take a critical look at the ecological, social, economic, and political crises of global capitalism, its link to sexual violence and the world’s culpability in this as a result of our complaisant, blind consumerism.

This major long term project achored in intensive research and dialogues with experts in different discipines will culminate in a casting of 433,785 phalluses that will form the installation.

Hereby below the link to the documentary: 

Inside Story - The silent victims of rape

For mone information about this project please see:

Echos of Ota Benga – Human Zoos and America’s Forgotten History of Scientific Racism

Echos of Ota Benga – Human Zoos: Reflections on America’s Forgotten History of Scientific Racism is a project that seeks to spark a discourse about the hidden and forgotten history of how thousands of indigenous peoples were put on public display in America in the early decades of the twentieth century. Often touted as “missing links” between man and apes, these native peoples were harassed and demeaned. Their public display was arranged with the enthusiastic support of the most elite members of the scientific community, and it was promoted uncritically by America’s leading newspapers. This project explores the heartbreaking story of what happened and will bring to light how African-American ministers and other people of faith tried to push back. The project also seeks to reveal how some people today are still drawing on Social Darwinism in order to dehumanize others. The project also explores the tragic story of eugenics in America, the effort to breed human beings based on Darwinian principles.

Below is a documentary that inspired this project:

For more information about the project, please see link:

Rethinking the hidden history of Slave Breeding Farms

Echos of Herero and Namaqua ancestors, from the Chapter – The German Museum of Colonialism

Golden Coach Exhibiton  

A historical major exhibition at the Amsterdam museum officially openened by King Willem Alexander of the Netherlands where Sithabile Mlotshwa presented a major installation entitled: “A truly Dutch creation, the Citizen as investor and Stakeholder”

In the above image, the King being shown the installation of artist Sithabile Mlotshwa during the official opening of the Golden Coach exhibition.

The Golden Coach is the subject of a current debate, caused by the painting on the left side of the vehicle: Tribute from the Colonies. Depicted are people from the colonies paying tribute to a white youthful woman symbolizing the Netherlands. An increasing number of people are finding this depiction of colonialism inappropriate for national celebrations. Should the carriage continue to be used on Prinsjesdag and during Orange weddings and inaugurations? Does the carriage deserve to be adapted, or does it belong in a museum? The exhibition highlights diverse perspectives on this controversial driving heritage.

Participating artists included:
Sithabile Mlotshwa, AiRich, Arahmaiani, Berend Strik, Bernard Akoi-Jackson, Brian Elstak, Danielle Hoogendoorn, Erwin Olaf, Iswanto Hartono, Naomie Pieter, Nelson Carrilho, Painted Series, Raul Balai, Sarah van Sonsbeeck, Serana Angelista and Sharelly  Emanuelson.

A selection of media coverage of this major historical exhibition. 

UnDutchified Part  2
Collected Stories & The Making of Historical Tiles

This projects is based on the collecting of stories, interviews, books and images, including workshops with schools starting throughout the Netherlands and internationally. The collected stories, interviews and images are for the making of the Historical tiles project.

Started during my participation in the LW2018 Cultural Capital project entitled:”Iepen Mienskip” with the support of the Rotary Clubs Leeuwarden, the Historical tiles and collected stories will culminate in a large scale installation, videos made from the collected stories and interviews and a blog. The process which requires a lot of reading, meeting people, living among strangers that I now consider my family, is inspiring, mind-blowing, emotional and humbling.

The International Arm of the Dutch Republic part 1 – Reflections on the Dutch East India Company

The project and installation,“The International Arm of the Dutch Republic’ was inspired by the dialogues I had with different Dutch people and scholars who when I asked about the VOC and the horrible atrocities linked to it, responded by saying that this was a little black dot in their history. 

Having been met with collective silence and critic of focusing on something that happened in the past as well as being told that this history has nothing to do with now, I decided to do indepth research by critically looking at the practices of the East India and West companies, that and the imapct their practices have had and continue to have in shaping and affecting our world today. 

The research will result in the making of a large scale installation of hands that retraces the scale of the voyages and impact of the VOC and WIC chartered companies. 

Inter caetera – Rethinking Cartography and Papal bulls, from the Chapter –  The Spanish Museum of Colonialism

The project Inter caetera – Rethinking Cartography and Papal bulls is a critical reflection on Spanish colonization of the Americas. This Chapter, takes a closer look at the Primitive state of Christopher Columbus, so called “discoverer” of the Americas, his exploitation of Indigenous people who were brutally subjugated soon after Columbus arrived in the New World, the Slavery and terror he brought to the Americas.

In a journal entry about his first interactions with the Native people of the Bahamas in 1492, he wrote:

“They willingly traded everything they owned … They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features …They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron … They would make fine servants … With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”

Later voyages to the Americas from Spain, Portugal, England, and other European countries would lead to the colonization of the Americas, the genocide of Indigenous peoples, and the devastation of much of their civilizations. In many ways, Christopher Columbus’ voyage can be seen as the start of the early-modern era of slavery, which would include both Indigenous peoples in the Americas and people forcibly taken from Africa.The exchange of diseases, vegetation, and animal life — previously separated by the ocean and by many thousands of years — also began with Columbus’ voyages and transformed the civilizations of the separate hemispheres irrevocably. This process is now known as the Columbian Exchange. The introduction of European diseases to the Americas was especially noteworthy since they were far more virulent than the diseases transmitted from the Americas to Europe. Diseases like smallpox and measles spread quickly throughout the Americas, wiping out many Indigenous people over the next couple of centuries.

This depopulation of the North and South American continents left the surviving Indigenous people unable to effectively defend themselves from the ruthless exploitation they would suffer at the hands of the European colonizers for centuries.

The project Inter caetera – Rethinking Cartography and Papal bulls, part of the Spanish Museum of Colonialism, is an important starting point in retracing and visually mapping the Spanish Museum of Colonialism. 

Below is a lecture that inspired a need to dig deeper into this history, where PCI Executive Director Asher Miller speaks with Sherri Mitchell (Weh'na Ha'mu Kwasset) on the long history of colonization and conquest -- upon which our legal, religious, and educational structures continue to be based -- and how the coronavirus pandemic and the growing recognition of white privilege present a unique opportunity to decolonize our society, minds, and hearts.

Decolonization: Digging deeper to get at the roots of systemic injustice and unsustainability.

The intensive research will culminate in major body of work that maps Spanish colonialism. 

Explorers, Empire builders and Delicate flowers