I’m lost
Wonder my cost up in this space
Mixed race, colour on my face, feeling misplaced

Loyle Carner – Looking Back

What does it mean to grow up within two cultures? How do you form your identity if you shipper between different values and norms? How do you identify if you never really feel completely at home in either one world or the other? During MOMO Festival 2023 we showcased makers and artists with a bicultural background to dive into their world of their mixed identity. 

Many bicultural people can relate to the experience of not fitting into one box. A feeling that many, not only bicultural people, also feel on a daily basis. Outsiders in cultures, unified in the feeling. Because not everything is as easily explained as putting it in one box. How we form our identity, and what makes us who we are, is fluid. Identity is fluid, a collection of our social and cultural interactions. It’s influenced by family, school, friends, work, experiences, ethnicity, nationality, race, class, generation, gender, environment, interactions and so on. We take bits of these factors and create our own identity. 

At MOMO Festival 2023 you could discover artists and creators giving their view on this bicultural and mixed identity. Many artists make work about their mixed roots, their identity and the space between the boxes where this is created. 

We showed the Rotterdam premiere of the short documentary Doubleblooded. Filmmakers Yuri Yabi Blaak and Zoë van Broekhoven started creating this film by asking the question: how do I find my place in between two cultures? They set out on a journey to discuss their experiences with other double blooded people.
The screening was preceded by the tour Re-mixed where guide Nevil Mitchell investigates the meaning of mixedness. 

Amsterdam based artist Joya Mooi creates music that unlocks feelings and overcomes darkness. By combining her South African roots with European productions, she brings an innovative R&B that combines jazz, trap, pop and hip-hop influences into an organic sound. Joya came to MOMO with a special light installation of Boris Acket. 

At MOMO Festival 2019 Anne-Fay gave a sneak preview into her process of going on a search into her family history. This year she presented her music theatre performance Anne- Fay’s Reaspora. A powerful performance about her travels along three continents to follow their family diaspora in the opposite direction. Wondering how she can use the privilege of her white skin to stand for black women’s rights as the daughter of a black mother. 

This year’s artist in residence in WORM UBIK was Serana Angelista with “Uprooted I float”. Influenced by their Dutch-Curaçaoan background, Angelista’s work is characterised by the never ending search for Africanisms within Caribbean culture. A quest they hope leads back home. For their visuals they combine deep memory with research. The residency piece has been an artwork made from their research about roots and spirituality.

Next door to WORM UBIK is the WORM Gallery, where Naomi He-Ji showed her work. Noami is a Rotterdam based visual artist that enjoys making connections between colourful imaginations of, sometimes heavy, subjects around identity, sexuality and taboos in a playful and sometimes funny way. With her strong visual imagination she discovered a way to bring this into the world from her head. For MOMO, Naomi looked into her mixed roots and researched how a Dutch family got connected with a Korean family with her being in the middle. 

Fragmented is a collaboration between Afronaut and Giorgi Kuiper. For MOMO Festival, they joined forces and prepared a show in which they’ll use sound recordings from different cultures to create live music. The result is an energetic jam session with recognisable elements that are completely overturned: a danceable live set with influences from house, hip-hop and jazz.

A scene/community that creates their own identity and own meaning to who they are is the ballroom scene. MOMO worked together with Rotterdam Ballroom Arena to bring you an evening where five ballroom performances will take place. Under My Umbrella Ballroom Arena has been an evening that welcomes and celebrates what is often overlooked and not understood whether this is our cultural background, identity or sexuality. Because, in and of itself, Ballroom is a melting pot of a variety of cultures, sexualities and identities.

At our talks program on the Playground stage (along the Westersingel), host Evita de Roode discussed this theme in conversation with Serana Angelista, Joya Mooi and Naomi He-Ji.

Noami He-Ji talks about the exhibition she created for MOMO Festival.