Overturning Othering 

 

Photography: Kim Bouvy


‘Othering’ is a term used in human geography that refers to the process by which a person or a group is perceived as not fitting the norm and is therefore excluded, sidelined or stigmatised. How does an accused relate to the prosecutor? Who is excluded from the institutions of international law? What are the hidden implications of partaking in the resolution of conflict? What does it mean to overturn ‘othering’ in the context of the Hague as the International City of Peace and Justice? 

These were some of the questions that a group of 49 designers from the Design Academy Eindhoven (DAE) Masters departments grappled with when commissioned to examine ‘othering’ by the Municipality of the Hague. The 15 teams that were made up of students from three departments (Contextual Design, Information Design and Design Curating and Writing) and over 17 nationalities responded with a series of challenges, speculative reimaginations and proposals for change. The Hague is a city that is undeniably linked to the topics of peace and justice. Despite the many specialist institutions of international law, the rhetoric that surrounds the concepts of peace and justice is often contradictory, confused and entangled with different beliefs and interpretations. This undercurrent of conflicting ideologiesin The Hague is often the result of ‘othering’. Which, in turn, manifests into a skewed systems of justice. Therefore, many well-intentioned goals of resolving conflict are not always inclusive as they are being dealt with from a rigid set of procedures. Yet decisions, made from afar in the Netherlands, intimately affect many lives globally. 

The students looked past the strong branding of The Hague and examined the issues of the system of International Law and the city from a questioning perspective. This approach was made possible by the fact that they are outsiders looking in – the foreigner’s perspective yielding new insights and fresh interpretations. Through first hand research, observations, visits to various institutions, interviews and in-depth analysis the students came to understand the complications and potential avenues for change in the context of the city. The diversity of the final outcomes explore new ways of thinking that counter the normative processes of peace and justice. The projects deal with topics such as trauma, silence, translation errors, security, unequal distribution of resources and even karaoke. In bringing new voices to the Hague the students attempt critique the existing hierarchy and suggest more inclusive and sensitive approaches to the systems surrounding international law. 

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49 international students from the Master departments Contextual Design, Information Design and Design Curating & Writing: Ahn Sung Whan, Alex Blondeau, Aline Fantinatti, Anna Winston, Anne Hofmann Andersen, Camila Kennedy, Colette Aliman, Colin Keays, Domitille Debret, Dorian Renard, Eliaenai Barajas, Etienne Marc, Fenna Wenselaar, Gianmaria Della Ratta, Gijs de Boer, Hansol Kim, Heloise Charital, Hsin Min Chan, Ianis Dobrev, Ines Glowania, Johanna Seelemann, Julie Helles Eriksen, Julie Patard, Julian Peschel, Kirsten Spruit, Konstantina Chondrou, Lara Chapman, Mara Siegel, Margareta Feherova, Marie Rime, Maurik Stomps, Mona Alcudia, Michael Bojkowski, Micheline Nahra, Minyang Liu, Niek Van Sleeuwen, Nejma Boussaïd, Nicha Keeratiphanthawong, Papon Sirimai, Rawad Baaklini, Stéphane Borel, Szymon Pasko, Tiiu Meiner, Tobias Bridger, Twin de Rooy, Vincent Hoenderop, Wibke Bramesfeld, Yanjin Wu

Guided by
Jan Konings, Frans Bevers, Gabriel Maher, Anne Hoogewoning, Ira Koers

Heads Master departments
Joost Grootens (Information Design),
Louise Schouwenberg (Contextual Design, Alice Twemlow (Design Curating & Writing) 

External critic
Arno van Roosmalen, Director Stroom The Hague 

Guest lecturers
Heini Lehtinen, Jan-Willem Petersen

The projects could be realized with the help and hospitality of
The International Criminal Court (ICC), The International Criminal Tribunal
for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), The Special tribunal for Lebanon (STL),
The International Court of Justice (ICJ)

Exhibition production team
Domitille Debret, Lara Chapman, Rawad Baaklini

Exhibition advisors
Frans Bevers, Gert Staal

Graphic design
Domitille Debret

Coordination Design Academy Eindhoven
Kim Bouvy

The project is coordinated by Anneleen de Jong. Financed by the Municipality of The Hague.
The exhibition is made possible thanks to financial support by The Hague United for Peace & Fonds 1818.