New World Academy: The Art of Creating a State

120 minuten

In the summer of 2014, documentary film makers Gabriëlle Provaas and Rob Schröder joined a delegation of the New World Academy to travel with the National Liberation Movement of Azawad (MNLA), which since 2012 has been fighting for the independent state of Azawad—one and a half times the size of France—in the northern, Saharan part of Mali. The resulting documentary—Azawad: The Art of Creating a State—offers a unique insight in the everyday struggle of the Kel Tamasheq (Tuareg), Arab, Fula, and Songhai peoples that have joined the liberation movement. Together with artist Jonas Staal and producer Younes Bouadi, the directors interviewed the movement's provisional government, commanders, strategists, historians, and artists, who explain their endeavors in the “art of creating a state”—a state that, up until today, has not been recognized by any other state in the world. The recent instability in Azawad has attracted the activity of jihadist groups, which in turn led the Malian government to seek help from France as well as the United Nations, which sent an intervention force that includes five hundred Dutch soldiers currently stationed in northern Mali. In the meantime, the liberation movement continues to struggle and seek support for their own independent state. On the occasion of May 5, the Dutch Liberation Day, this documentary film poses several important questions: How does the struggle for self-determination of liberation movements relates to the duty of the UN to protect the sovereignty of both peoples and states? To whose safety and liberation do the Dutch soldiers in the UN mission contribute exactly? And how can artists and filmmakers balance out the limited information on barely mediatized and highly complex conflicts such as these? Following the introduction by directors Provaas and Schröder, the screening of the film Azawad: The Art of Creating a State is followed by a debate between Moussa Ag Assarid (writer and European representative of the National Liberation Movement of Azawad, MNLA), Jasper van Dijk (Spokesman Foreign Affair of the Socialist Party, SP), Sander Zurhake (Investigative journalist), Mirjam de Bruijn (Prof. African Studies Centre Leiden), and several prominent Dutch politicians and specialists on the conflict of northern Mali. The program is introduced by Jonas Staal (artist and co-founder of the New World Academy) and moderated by Chris Keulemans (writer and journalist). The conference is organized by the New World Academy, an educational platform that researches the role of art in stateless political struggle, founded by artist Jonas Staal and BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht. An overview of the work of the New World Academy is on view until June 21, 2015 in the Centraal Museum, Utrecht.