Photo: Barbara Wagner & Benjamin de Burc, Faz Qua Vai (still)


17/12/2021 — 22/05/2022


To Be Like Water explores and enriches the meaning of code switching. The exhibition revolves around a layered concept of identity, with code switching as a manifestation of the versatile and fluid way in which identity functions within the social force field. Compiled by Kris Dittel.  

Code switching was first used in sociolinguistics as a term to describe how people who are multilingual switch between languages ​​in conversation. But code switching is also about how we adapt our way of speaking to a particular social group. In fact, it involves all the conscious and unconscious ways in which people project different cultural or linguistic identities, depending on the situation.

By switching codes—in language, dialect, tone or speech rhythm, but also in body language and gestures—you can indicate that you belong or create distance. It is a form of translation based on the ability to read and respond to social situations. Yet it is not always about a form of self-expression. It can also be enforced by the environment, when code switching is necessary to gain access, protect or shield oneself, or be accepted within the dominant culture. Awareness of this constant switching counterbalances the idea of ​​identity as a singular 'I', and can negate its use as a tool for social control and social division.

Code switching involves language, gestures, movement—like a dance of the different layers of each 'I'. But it also includes (self) censorship, double awareness, pretending, keeping your language, your behavior, even your breathing in check. It is restless and uprooted; fluid and changeable.

From January to March there is also a public program with artist's talks and film screenings.  


The participating artists are Jenny Brady, Robert Gabrielellen gallagherJumana MannaJay Tan, Amy Suo Wu (ism. Sami hammana, Karen Huang, Sarafina Paulina Bonita, and Sandim Mendes)Evelyn Taocheng Wangbarbara Wagner & Benjamin de Burca and Katarina Zdjelar. 


The exhibition was commissioned by Sculpture International Rotterdam and was developed in response to the daily cultural reality in this city. Thanks to Dees Linders, House of Urban Arts and the Mondriaan Fund.