Capital of Woke

8th edition of
 POPPOSITIONS 25—28 April 2019
Le Centre Tour à Plomb–Hageltoren, Brussels

Capital of Woke

Niekolaas Johannes Lekkerkerk


ESPAI TACTEL – Gallery, Barcelona & València (ES), presenting Luis Úrculo (ES) © Jeroen Verrecht

The 8th edition of POPPOSITIONS took place between 25 and 28 April 2019 at Le Centre Tour à Plomb–Hageltoren in Brussels.


Artistic Framework




The 8th edition of POPPOSITIONS will revolve around the term “woke” and how its mainstream popularity and increasing application intersects with corporate and capitalist structures. The idea of being woke and wokeness concerns raising social awareness, taking actions in response to dominant paradigms, acknowledging one’s privileges towards understanding the struggles of others, and giving space to social bodies that have been silenced, unacknowledged and underrepresented. With the forthcoming edition of POPPOSITIONS we want to think collectively about what responses and forms of resistance can be formulated when ideologies have become trendy and woke-washing brands cash in on social justice.





Photo @ Evan Vucci



Photo from Humans of Late Capitalism





To give an example, feminist slogans such as “The future is female”, “Don’t underestimate the power of a woman” and “We should all be feminists” have increasingly permeated the public realm through global fashion companies ranging from Topshop, Asos, Monki and Dior, the latter advocating this motto on a €620 T-shirt. Dedicated website sections of these brands propagate wokeness, awareness-raising and self-empowerment, prominently stating to reserve parts of the sales revenue to, for instance, the betterment of labour conditions for women and planned parenthood. Another Monki item states “Choose Peace”, but in judging the label “Made in Bangladesh” we may come to feel that the notion of displaying wokeness through consumption often comes at a double price.

The importance of engaging in acts of consciousness raising in aiming to enact social justice, to mobilise a radical aspiration towards freedom and equality indeed seems increasingly important in a world that continues to be ridden with binaries and ongoing polarisations between dominant socio-political orders. However, what is to be done if those acts are simultaneously indexed on the vectors of advanced capitalism? Or when counter movements are overcome by internal conflict and forms of performing activism, in which spokespeople of a certain agenda engage in discussions solely reprimanding other critics and activists for their stances—this and that person just got cancelled! What forms of response and resistance can be formulated when ideologies have become trendy and woke-washing brands cash in on social justice, whilst hiding behind transparent and opportunistic but not less powerful facades of corporate social responsibility?

In other words still, in paraphrasing philosopher Rosi Braidotti, […] Advanced capitalism has sucked in, assimilated, transformed and subsumed the very subjects that should have been or were expected to be the vectors of difference. […] we have differing as processes, disengaged from the revolutionary political subjects that were supposed to be the transformative and disruptive moment, whereas now we have feminism without women as political agency, racism without races, ecology without nature. This has lead to an internal schizophrenia in which a disengagement from the processes of coding and recoding from the empirical referents, the political subjects that used to carry these agendas and were supposed to be the historical agents of change have now become encapsulated by a system in which differences are capitalised upon.[1]

Similarly located on the charged cross junction of the art market and exhibition format, aiming to promote acquisition whilst advancing criticality, POPPOSITIONS 2019 is looking for proposals that address and counteract the influence of advanced capitalism and its far-reaching management of the living, in which the human has become just one of the marketable species. From the notion of living currency, identity politics as lifestyle attribute, to discussions concerning feminism, queer, gender, blackness, migration, post-colonialism and performing activism in relation to wokeness, we would like to address issues of representation, conflict of interest, the possibilities of corporate social responsibility, performing dissent, and engaging in acts of consciousness-raising about one’s place in a scheme of things.

[1] Open Democracy, Indebted CitizenshipAn Interview with Rosi Braidotti, 2014:

Artistic Director

Niekolaas Johannes Lekkerkerk (1988, NL) works as a curator and writer for The Office for Curating in Rotterdam. Central to Lekkerkerk’s work are social and political discourses revolving around daily living and working practices, cultural norms, and ideologies. He particularly focuses on debates concerning the Anthropocene, ecology and climate, post-humanism, and the increasing entanglement between nature and culture. Lekkerkerk recently published The Standard Book of Noun-Verb Exhibition Grammar (Onomatopee, 2018), a publication regarding the exhibition as an ecological assemblage. In 2012 he received the inaugural Demergon Curatorial Award, and in 2014 he was the beneficiary of the Akbank Sanat International Curator Competition.

Recent projects and exhibitions organised by The Office for Curating are the group exhibition Archipelago – A Problem (On Exactitude in Science) (2018) at Tlön Projects, The Hague; the group exhibition Almende – The Second Triennial of Beetsterzwaag (2018) for Kunsthuis SYB, Beetsterzwaag; the 7th edition of POPPOSITIONS entitled In Watermelon Sugar (2018) at Former Atelier Coppens, Brussels; a parcours of sculptural works and installations for the Open Air section at Art Rotterdam 2018; the group exhibition Psychosculptural Aesthetics (2017) at Rianne Groen, Rotterdam; the solo exhibition Elements of Peaceful Engagement (2017) with Marlena Kudlicka at Zak|Branicka, Berlin; the duo exhibition Homestead of Dilution (2017) with Domenico Mangano and Marieke van Rooy at Nomas, Rome; the sixth edition of POPPOSITIONS entitled Don’t Agonize, Organize! (2017) at ING Art Center, Brussels.



1646, The Hague (NL) • Archiraar Gallery, Brussels (BE) • Billytown, The Hague (NL) • Broodthaers Society of America, New York (US) • Diamètre, Paris (FR) • DMW Art Space, Antwerp/Borgerhout (BE) • Drop City, Antwerp (BE) • ESPAI TACTEL, Barcelona/València (ES) • etHALL gallery, Barcelona (ES) • feeelings, nomadic • JOEY RAMONE, Rotterdam (NL) • L.E.M.O.W. Editions & Multiples, Paris (FR) • Lily Robert, Paris (FR) • MAMA, Rotterdam (NL) • Manoeuvre Kunstenplek vzw, Ghent (BE) • Onomatopee Projects, Eindhoven (NL) • Pierre Poumet, Bordeaux (FR) • Salón ACME, Mexico (MX) • SUPERDEALS, Brussels (BE) • Syndicate, Los Angeles (US) • The fridge, Sofia (BG) • The Self Luminous Society, nomadic • VITRINE, Basel/London (CH/UK) • Vleeshal, Middelburg (NL) • wildpalms, Düsseldorf (DE).



Diana Campbell BetancourtDiana Campbell Betancourt • Artistic Director at Samdani Art Foundation, (BD), Chief Curator at Dhaka Art Summit, (BD).
Jessica Gysel © Joëlle-BachettaJessica Gysel • Founder of Girls Heart Brussels, (BE), Editor at Girls Like Us, Brussels/Amsterdam, (BE/NL).
Niekolaas Johannes LekkerkerkNiekolaas Johannes Lekkerkerk • Curator and writer at The Office for Curating, Rotterdam, (NL), Artistic Director of POPPOSITIONS, (BE).
Hana MileticHana Miletić • Brussels and Zagreb based artist, (BE/HR).
Christophe VeysChristophe Veys • Collection Veys-Verhaevert, (BE).

Public Programme

POPPOSITIONS aims at stimulating discussions and encouraging dialogue between visitors, exhibitors and other stakeholders by extending its exhibition programme to a curated selection of events on-site, such as performances, artist talks, conferences and round tables, as well as a bookshop and a bar. The Public Programme is curated by Niekolaas Johannes Lekkerkerk, in collaboration with RoSa.

Read the full programme

Team 2019

For the third edition in a row, Niekolaas Johannes Lekkerkerk (The Office for Curating, NL) is the artistic director. He will be running, together with Rachelle Dufour as the new fair director, the 8th edition of POPPOSITIONS coinciding with the Art Brussels week from 25 to 28 April 2019.

• Artistic Director: Niekolaas Johannes Lekkerkerk

• Fair Director: Rachelle Dufour

• Fair Manager: Marine Decottignies

• Head of Communication & VIP Relations: Chloé Goetz

• Communication manager: Charlotte Leclercq

• Coordination Assistant: Victor Passeron

POPPOSITIONS invited artist and scenographer POPPOSITIONS 2019-Mathias-Prenen-artist-scenographerMathias Prenen to conceive the scenography.

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