Tashattot (Arabic for dispersion) is an art collective based in Belgium dedicated to supporting visual artists, musicians, film makers and cultural practitioners at large, originally from the SWANA region and currently “dispersed” in Europe. The collective aims at creating opportunities, collaborations, commissions and securing funding for these expatriate artists.

The word tashattot and its English equivalents scattering/dispersion, define the collective in both the literal sense of the word (pertaining to the description of the individuals scattered around the world, far from their homelands), as well as its metaphorical sense which relates to the scattering and dispersion of ideas and ways of thinking, as the word in Arabic is oftentimes used to describe the wandering of the thoughts (tashattot al afkar or scattered thoughts).

Tashattot is a work in progress and a newly launched collective with a fluid and evolving set of actions. It currently is and will always remain open to new ideas and experiences; continuously building on lessons learned and with practice. The collective strongly believes in the efficiency of open discussions, as the only way to grow and better address SWANA expat artists needs and aspirations, it therefore remains open to revi
ews, critiques, evaluations or any opinions related to its mechanisms.

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Forging [im]possible Museums

De Garage, Mechelen

17-Dec-2023 – 17h

In the context of the exhibition Radical Shapeshifters @KunsthalMechelen curated by Zeynap Kubat, we have invited Ali T. As’ad and Thomas Bellinck to lead a conversation on Forging [im]possible Museums at De Garage, Mechelen.

Throughout much of their recent history, Palestinians have experienced an absence of sovereignty which has denied them control over many of the mechanisms essential for disseminating and imposing uniform ‘national’ criteria of identity. They have faced the continuous de-signification of their cultural landscape, as well as systemic attempts to deny and erase their cultural identity through various policies of exclusion, segregation, and violence. Despite such challenges, non-governmental museological/ exhibitionary projects have proliferated since the 1960s and gained agency as sites of negotiated authority; what historian Beshara Doumani has identified as institutional efforts for museums to become “an embodiment of the body-politic in the absence of the state.” In the face of the ongoing occupation, and the impossibilities it has posed, Palestinian cultural practitioners and organizations have had to conceive of different visibilities to produce and ‘perform’ Palestinian museum projects. Their imaginative endeavors are embedded in a larger movement to subvert the nation state-built/building museum, which historically arose as one of foremost technologies of Western imperialism, institutionalizing the violent processes of hunting and collecting the animals, people, rituals, stories and objects which European colonial powers longed to control. 

Drawing from his research As’ad will share insights on the challenges of establishing traditional museum institutions in the Palestinian context, and the resilience of Palestinian exhibition-making and museum-practice forged despite the ongoing occupation. Bellinck will delve into artistic strategies of speculation and fabulation to reappropriate the museological gesture as a means to create disruptive dialogical spaces that foster the historiography of yet-to-be-realised pasts, presents and futures.


Ali T. As’ad
Ali T. As’ad is a researcher, curator, educator, and architect based in Amsterdam. He is also editor-in-chief of the MAKAN Journal of Culture & Space, a trilingual journal that critically engages with contemporary architectural and urban conditions. as well as broader scholarship emanating from or focused on, exploring the SWANA region. Ali is currently focused on his doctoral research project which examines the praxis of Palestinian exhibition-making and museum practice; a study which is situated within a broader interrogation of the incongruity between the political space of the state and the cultural space of the nation in the 21st century condition.

Thomas Bellinck
Thomas Bellinck is a Brussels-based theater and exhibition maker, whose work focuses on memory politics, state violence, incarceration and international mobility injustice. As a doctoral researcher in the arts, Thomas works at KASK & Conservatorium (Ghent). In the past few years, Thomas has been involved in the creation of several speculative-museological projects, such as a futuristic-historical museum on life in the former European Union, the participatory ‘Counter-Museum of Individual Liberties’ and the ongoing ‘Museum of Human-Hunting’. The latter’s ever-evolving collection unravels present-day practices of humans hunting other humans within the context of EU border policies.

This project is made possible with the generous support of the Kunsthal Mechelen.