AFIELD Forum: Systems Change by Artists

Friday, September 27 2024

Main location: K1 (KANAL-Centre Pompidou), Brussels, Belgium

Register and receive the full program here

The AFIELD Forum is a project by AFIELD co-produced with KANAL-Centre Pompidou, in partnership with CIVA & Établissements A. Dewitte & Filles. With the support of the Terra Foundation for American Art.

For its 10-year anniversary, the AFIELD network is launching a new public forum on systems change led by artists. The ongoing multiscalar crisis urges the arts and cultural field to take more concrete actions towards social and environmental justice. Aligning with its mission, AFIELD is embarking on a 3-year cycle of international gatherings bringing new perspectives on the role of art in society.

The AFIELD Forum, from September 27 to 29, will gather an international cohort of artists, activists, thinkers, cultural workers, and social entrepreneurs around a set of questions: how, why and should artists bring systems change for a better society? What do artists bring when they take on the roles of NGOs, educators, activists, and active agents involved in social transformation? 

AFIELD has developed the themes for the forum over the past years via online studies on key issues such as transitional justice, ableism, ethics of representation, the commons and more. The AFIELD Forum will serve as a meeting point to inquire on these urgent questions, embodying the network’s belief in the profound capacity of artists to lead transformational change in their communities.

As the capital of Europe and the heart of a unique ecosystem of grassroots initiatives and NGOs, the city of Brussels is a natural host for this forum. The program is based on encounters between international guests and Brussels hosts. The forum is spread around different cultural spaces in Brussels and the last day is dedicated to walking tours of this ecosystem.

The list of speakers includes: Universal Embassy, Martha Atienza, Anna Dantes, El Warcha, Analida Galindo, Anand Giridharadas, Ola Hassanain, Helena Kritis, Giuseppe Micciarelli, Eileen Myles, Majaw Njaay, Sergio Roberto Gratteri, Sahad Sarr, Toestand, TransfoCollect, Ana Vargas.

Facilitated by Diana Campbell, Grégory Castéra, Taeyoon Choi, Abi Tariq, Sandra Terdjman, and Chantal Wong.

The forum is free of charge and the audience is limited to the capacity of the venue.


Universal Embassy

Twenty three years ago, Universal Embassy was founded in Brussels in the abandoned building of the Somalian embassy which had lost its function following the break-up of the Somali state. It became a place where undocumented migrants from more than fifteen countries around the world lived and fought for their papers. With the help of volunteers from various sectors of civil society, they developed methods of mutual aid, including legal support and raising public awareness.


Martha Atienza

Martha Atienza (b. 1981, Manila, Philippines) is a Dutch-Filipino video artist based in Bantayan Island, Philippines. Her work explores environmental, community, and development issues, influenced by her dual cultural heritage. Atienza’s videos focus on the interplay between local traditions, human subjectivity, and the natural world, using art to drive societal change. She won the Baloise Art Prize at Art Basel in 2017 and has received the Ateneo Art Awards (2012/2016) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines Thirteen Artist Award (2015). She has participated in notable biennales and triennials, including the 17th Istanbul Biennial (2022) and the 9th Asia Pacific Triennial (2018). Her solo exhibition The Protectors opened at Silverlens New York in 2022.


Diana Campbell

Diana Campbell (Los Angeles, 1984) is a Princeton educated American curator who has been working in South and Southeast Asia since 2010, primarily in India, Bangladesh, and the Philippines. Since 2013, she has served as the Founding Artistic Director of Dhaka-based Samdani Art Foundation, Bangladesh and Chief Curator of the Dhaka Art Summit, leading the critically acclaimed 2014, 2016, 2018, and 2020 editions. Campbell Betancourt has developed the Dhaka Art Summit into a leading research and exhibitions platform for art from South Asia, bringing together artists, architects, curators, and writers from across South Asia through a largely commission-based model where new work and exhibitions are born in Bangladesh, also adding a scholarly element to the platform with a think tank connecting modern art histories in and across Africa, South and Southeast Asia in collaboration with the Getty Foundation, Cornell University Center for Comparative Modernities, the Asia Art Archive, and the Samdani Art Foundation.


Grégory Castéra

AFIELD Advisor Grégory Castéra is a curator, educator, and editor working at the intersection of visual arts, performing arts, and political ecology. Castéra conceives exhibitions, collaborative research, study programs, and infrastructures that reflect on art’s contribution to environmental and social justice. Along with Sandra Terdjman, he co-founded Council, an office for art and society situated in Paris. In addition to directing Council, Castéra is the co-editor of The Against Nature Journal (along with Aimar Arriola and Giulia Tognon) and a founding member of the Afield Network for social initiatives from arts and culture. He teaches as a Guest Professor of collective practices at the Royal Institute of Art (Stockholm), is an adviser for the Jan Van Eyck Academy (Maastricht), and he is the infrastructure and program advisor for Kerenidis Pepe (Paris and Anafi). Before this, he served as coordinator at Betonsalon (Paris, 2007-2009), he was co-director of Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers, a center for art and research situated on the outskirts of Paris (along with Alice Chauchat and Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez, 2010-2012) and he was a member of The Encyclopédie de la parole, an art collective exploring the spoken word in all its forms (2007-2014). Castera was the Witte de With Curatorial Fellow (2017), a Resident Researcher at Villa Medicis Hors les Murs (2013), and a Gwangju Biennial Curatorial Fellow (2016).


Taeyoon Choi

Taeyoon Choi, (USA) works with computer programming, drawing, and writing, often in collaboration with fellow artists, experts, and community members, exploring the poetics of science, technology, society, and human relations. Distributed Web of Care is an initiative that brings together coders, curators, artists, and activists to build the future of the internet that is responsible and caring for marginalized people and the environment. The project explores how technology and society can open up space for artistic expression, cultural connection, and create caring community relations through collaborations, educational resources, skillshares, writing and performance practices.


Anna Dantes

She works on extending the editing experience to other formats – laboratories, workshops, magazines, curatorships, exhibitions, fashion collections, study cycles and films. Since 1994, she has been creating, carrying out and collaborating on projects to pass on knowledge and memory. For the last thirteen years, she has been working with the Huni Kuin people in Acre on the project Shubu Hiwea, Escola Viva. From this experience was born Selvagem, a cycle of studies on life, roundtables, films and books on the correspondence between scientific, artistic and traditional knowledge. From Selvagem came the Living Schools project to strengthen traditional knowledge in five indigenous territories. It’s all happening thanks to a large collaborative network.


El Warcha

El Warcha, means workshop in Arabic, it is a collective and maker-space founded in 2016 in the medina of Tunis, Tunisia. It aims to promote hands-on education and civic actions through the making of temporary urban furniture, art installations and public events with local inhabitants. With members of its community moving around, the project established itself in Tottenham, north London in 2018 and in Lisbon since 2020. They also work in Nefta, south Tunisia regularly since 2019.


Analida Galindo

AFIELD Fellow Analida Galindo is a contemporary dancer, choreographer, teacher and cultural advocate from Panama. She has been working towards developing the contemporary dance scene in Panama for about 20 years. In 2010, she founded the Enlaces Program, which seeks to provide opportunities to youth from at-risk communities through artistic training focused on dance, today under the umbrella of Fundación Espacio Creativo. In 2012 she co-founded PRISMA, the international festival of Contemporary Dance of Panama. She is also the co-director of Fundación Espacio Creativo, created in 2014 as a platform to provide opportunities through dance, education and culture, and Steps Academy, a leading contemporary dance school in Panama.


Anand Giridharadas

Anand Giridharadas is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Persuaders, the international bestseller Winners Take All, The True American, and India Calling. A former foreign correspondent and columnist for The New York Times for more than a decade, he has also written for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and Time. He is an on-air political analyst for MSNBC. He is the publisher of the newsletter The Ink.


Sergio Roberto Gratteri

Sergio Roberto Gratteri is a musicologist, cultural mediator and a pioneering cultural entrepreneur  with a mission to redefine classical concerts, reconnect with audiences, and positively impact society. He is the driving force behind “DAS HAUS,” a unique venue designed as a radically informal safe space for musicians and audiences. Gratteri’s innovative approach focuses on creating holistic experiences that blend various art forms, aiming to foster a deeper appreciation and engagement with culture. His efforts are geared towards making cultural events more meaningful and accessible to a broader audience.


Ola Hassanain

Ola Hassanain leads a critical spatial practice as an visual Artist with architecture training.  Ola premises her work on an idea of “space as political discourse” an expanded notion of space, that tries to develop a spatial literacy which can aid us to imagine different political ecologies. Ola’s development of critical spatial practice is partly informed by her post-academic training;  an ongoing Rijksakademie residency, a BAK fellowship 2017-2018, teaching and development of the Blackerblackness Master course Sandberg Instituut 2021- 2023, teaching at  HKU University of the Arts Utrecht at the Fine Art Department, amongst other international collaborations like Chicago Architecture Biennial 2019 and Sharjah Architecture Triennale 2019.


Helena Kritis

Helena Kritis is a curator at WIELS Centre for Contemporary Art in Brussels. She’s also a member of the short film selection committee for the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) since 2017. Between 2008 and 2019 she was in charge of the visual and audiovisual arts program at the multidisciplinary arts centre Beursschouwburg in Brussels. She holds master’s degrees in photography from KASK School of Arts Ghent (2003) and in Art History / Performing Arts & Media Studies from Ghent University (2006). She curated solo exhibitions with emerging artists like Luis Lazaro Matos, Hana Miletic, Guy Woueté, Nora Turato and Margarita Maximova. She also has a seat in the funding committee for visual arts of the Flemish Government and the acquisition committee for the collection of the Flemish Parliament.


Giuseppe Micciarelli

Giuseppe Micciarelli is a legal sociologist and political scientist (University of Naples Federico II). He has published numerous essays and articles on commons and critical theory on neoliberalisation of public and private institutions. With his political and legal hacker methodology supports social movements, practitioners, associations, and local administrations to empower democratization tools. He is one of the researchers and activists who developed the governance of urban commons in Naples, setting up civic and collective urban use; he designed the policy of creative and care income for cultural workers and supported dozens of regeneration experiences around the world, helping them to deal with public administrations and market coptation. He is part of networks of artists and cultural workers such as Asilo Filangieri, AFIEL, IRI and different academic and political networks of urban commoning. He coordinates the democratic module on democratic innovation of the ProPart Master (IUAV of Venice). He is currently working on the transformations of democracy and participation in algorithmic governmentality, focusing on the risks of the platform society and the potential of digital politics. He was awarded with the Elinor Ostrom Award, and is president of the Commons Observatory of the city of Naples.

Eileen Myles

Eileen Myles, born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, studied at the University of Massachusetts-Boston. They moved to New York City in 1974 to pursue poetry and became involved with the St. Mark’s Poetry Project, where they studied with notable poets. From 1984 to 1986, Myles was the artistic director of the Project. They have published twenty volumes of poetry and fiction, including Not Me (1991), Chelsea Girls (1994), Cool for You (2000), and Skies (2001). Recent works include Sorry, Tree (2007), The Importance of Being Iceland (2009), Inferno (2010), I Must Be Living Twice (2015), Afterglow (2017), and evolution (2018). Myles has received numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Andy Warhol/Creative Capital Arts Writers grant, and multiple Lambda Book Awards. They have taught at NYU and Naropa University and live in New York City and Marfa, Texas.


Majaw Njaay

AFIELD Peer Majaw Njaay (Senegal) is a performance artist whose work fuses his experiences in theater, circus, film and slam through performances in public spaces. His work is about societal transformation and themes related to youth, often evoking childhood. ArtXaleYi is an organization for social welfare for children through art based in Dakar. The project consists of orchestrating a series of performance-readings in several spaces with the purpose of providing children with a wide range of tools for the future; and to create new forms of learning and exchange through artistic interventions.


Sahad Sarr

Sahad Sarr, a Senegalese Afro-fusion artist, is the founder and lead vocalist of the group SAHAD, based in Dakar. Known for innovative and self-produced music, SAHAD blends various genres, including Afro, jazz, blues, folk, and funk. The group has gained international recognition, performing in multiple countries and winning several awards. They released their first EP “Nataal” in 2015, followed by the album “Jiw” in 2017, and “Lumma” in 2022. He has always pushed the political and cultural barriers, playing around West and East Africa, Europe and America. Multidisciplinary artist, Sahad signed a theater piece with Jiw and Luuma as part of his albums release and wrote in 2023 his last piece ”The Blue Forest”, a tale of migration, indigenous knowledge and African dignity. As a sociocultural activist, Sahad founded the independent label “Stereo Africa 432” to support and promote emerging local artists. The Label is also the instigator of the international world music festival Stereo Africa Festival since 2022, thought and created to offer diversity to the people and build structures in Africa, that represents local artistic needs and cultures. In 3 years, the festival has hosted more than 90 concerts, was a springboard for more than 20 artists, has taken place in more than 15 venues in Dakar and helped discover artists from around the wold. Sahad has worked in development as an environmentalist, founding the JiwNit Association and the Ecovillage of Kamyaak, based in Fatick, Senegal. The purpose of the Association and the village is to create and innovate on durable ecological solutions addressing issues like climate change, poverty, rural exodus and social justice. The ecovillage is conceived as a learning center working with the women and the youth throughout projects based on solar panels, eco construction, permaculture, organic farming, natural soap making and the valorisation of local cereals for the artisanal bakery. Every perspective of his projects is to help developing and offering alternatives to the senegalese youth and taking a strong part in building opportunities.


Abi Tariq

Abi works at the heart of the AFIELD, facilitating knowledge and skill exchanges between members of the network through programs and community building strategies. As an Pakistani artist based in France, Abi’s conceptual practice seeks to critically expose or subtly shift hierarchical structures through the prism of performance art. Inspired by the complex entanglement of language, culture and power, Abi questions behavioural norms by confronting issues of privilege, vulnerability and social expectation. Since 2014, Abi has been running the Silent Dinners, with Australian artist Honi Ryan. Recent works include: Is France Racist ?, a performative survey of otherness; ‘White Paper’ Performance, an examination of the rights of Russian artists under boycott (with Avant-Garde Lawyers), and an essay titled ‘Developing A Queer Lens Through The Work Of Apnavi Makanji’ for their solo ‘Psychopompe’ at TARQ Mumbai.


Sandra Terdjman

Sandra is a curator and advisor in arts and philanthropy. She supports the role of arts and culture in society as a founding member of different successful organisations like KADIST (Paris/San Francisco) an exhibition and residency program based on an international collection, COUNCIL (together with Grégory Castéra), an organisation that favors multidisciplinary projects at the crossroads between arts, sciences, and civil society, and more recently, AFIELD. She also advises different philanthropic organizations and was awarded in 2019 the Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award.



Belgium-based NGO ‘Toestand’ has helped to build several temporary and autonomous sociocultural centers. They did this by collectively helping to reactivate empty buildings and forgotten spaces, both locally (in Belgium) and internationally. For several years, their international projects have been intentionally concentrated in environments where the (cultural) needs and interests of youth are being neglected. Where there are no accessible spaces for youngsters to create and perform their identity, be it artistic or cultural. The aim of this organization is to push these youths towards urban and civil exchange through community making. Central points are reflection and making a change, along with dialogue, creation, autonomy and action. Toestand is a bilingual Brussels non-profit organization, specialized in temporary use of space. The non-profit organization was founded in 2012 by a group of young committed Brussels residents. In a few years, they grew into an established organization that currently (2020) employs thirteen part-time employees, spread over five projects. In addition to their permanent employees, they can count on an extensive network of partners and volunteers who make their dream come true with them every day.



TransfoCollect brings together Brussels residents who want to develop artistically and shape future artistic communities together. TransfoCollect is a place to learn from each other and where practices of theater, dance, art and philosophy are embodied and made active in the studio and on the theater floor. The basic operation of TransfoCollect (THE GROUND) is a potential play space of bi-weekly Sunday workshops and work weeks (during school vacations) and takes place largely on the site of De Kriekelaar in Schaarbeek. A team of artists organizes the meetings on the floor. The workshops invariably begin with a shared meal. TransfoCollect focuses its research on precarious places in our society and investigates how theater, art and philosophy can play a meaningful role in heterotopic situations: a soccer field in Schaerbeek, an emergency village, a psychiatry, a market, etc. To this end, the collective energy is deployed nomadically and TransfoCollect goes on a journey in the Brussels region and beyond (THE MOVEMENT). For a given period, a number of artists settle down in a public place and develop an artistic work as a precarious place in society. In the process, they explore and share that precarious place as a possible studio. TransfoCollect itself goes out into the world. With our finger on the Brussels pulse, we seek (including through workshops) to meet the many people and artistic languages brewing in the city.


Ana Vargas

AFIELD Fellow Ana Vargas is a young architect who grew up in Caracas and has worked in Italy, India and USA. She holds an Architecture Degree from Universidad Central de Venezuela and a Master of Science in Architecture and Urbanism from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has been awarded the 2014 Dubai International Award for Best Practices with UN-Habitat and the 2014 Thesis Award MIT School of Architecture. She is currently professor and researcher for the Urbanism Institute at the Architecture Faculty of the Universidad Central de Venezuela as well as director of Trazando Espacios Públicos and her own architecture practice.


Chantal Wong

Chantal Wong combines contemporary art and education, to build communities and create impact. She is Convenor for AFIELD, an international network, advocacy and support platform for artists leading transformational change in society. She is co-founder of Learning Together, empowering refugees through project-based learning and scholarships; Women’s Festival HK; and Things That Can Happen (2014–2017), an experimental art space. She was founding Director of Culture, Eaton HK (2017-2021), a purpose-driven hospitality brand, and Head of Strategy, Asia Art Archive (2006-2017). She is also a Global Fellow with Ford Foundation.


Andrea Yarbrough

Andrea Yarbrough is a multi-disciplinary artist, curator, and educator born and raised on the south side of Chicago. She leads the collaborative placekeeping initiative, in c/o: Black women, pushing forward a Black womanist praxis of erecting sites of care by elevating the importance of witnessing and cooperative building as forms of care work. Her practice transforms everyday materials into art objects, exhuming the invisibility of understudied histories. Andrea earned an MA in Museum and Exhibition Studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is a worker-owner with Cooperation Racine, where she provides creative consultancy services and supports the development of a cooperatively owned and operated art center in West Englewood, Chicago.