‘I’m proud of the exhibition about hip-hop and fashion’

Shehera Grot is curator at Kunsthal Rotterdam. She puts together exhibitions with great passion, where she seeks coherence with the city. One of the best things about Rotterdam is the mix of cultures. “It creates surprises, just like art does.” Shehera is our Rotterdammer of the week.

Is there an exhibition or project you are most proud of?

“When I started at Kunsthallen three years ago, my first project was the exhibition ‘Street Dreams: How Hiphop took over Fashion’. For this we worked together with Aruna Vermeulen from HipHopHuis and Lee Stuart from Patta. In a short time, about half a year, we created the big exhibition in Hall 1. This intensive form of collaboration to create an exhibition was new to me. As a curator you think about how an exhibition is going to look, now I had to discuss everything. It was very interesting and resulted in a beautiful end result.”

“During the opening of ‘Street Dreams’ I looked around and saw a reflection of Rotterdam. At openings, you often see older, white people. Now there were people of all backgrounds and ages in the Kunsthallen. I am still proud of that!”

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Is that one of your motifs in your work? Get other people to the museum?

“I am not concerned with target groups, but I have a different view of Rotterdam. I was born near Maashaven and when I was eight I moved to Vreewijk. When I used to go to the museum, I never recognized myself. I would like to change that. And I would like more people to come into contact with art. It is so important. Even if you don’t get it; it does something to you. Art can surprise people and put them on a different footing.”

What collaboration are you looking forward to?

“In May 2022, we will completely take over the Pauluskerk with ‘All you can Art’: it will be very cool. We have always had this exhibition in the summer for six years, where we invite visitors to make things together with artists. At the moment, the Auditorium is full with six studios of different artists. There are always three vacancies where you can work. Many visitors who come in think at first that it is something for children, but everyone can join.”

“All you can Art will take place for the first time this autumn. Together with our partners, we have selected twenty households where works of art ‘go dormant’. For example at Het Gemaal in Afrikaanderwijk, with the elderly in a Laurens institution or at the shelter in Pauluskerk. The works will be here for two weeks. The artists and students of the Willem de Kooning Academy go to these places to interview the residents about the art. From there, they create new works, which are then hung up in those places. For example, we seek out groups that do not go to museums themselves. I really like that. “

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Shehera is a proud Rotterdammer, but the question is whether she will keep it up for long. She is looking for a house to buy and is struggling as a single starter in the overheated housing market.

Let me know how your search is looking so far?

“I grew up in the south and I want to go back. There is a lot of green there and I love the mix of cultures living together. The high prices only make me sick to my stomach. As a single person, it is almost impossible to find a home in Rotterdam. It’s outrageous, isn’t it? Rotterdam is my city! I am now watching with my niece so we have a better chance. Hopefully we can find a house where we both have our own floor.”

“The worst thing is that I have always defended Rotterdam. I have fought for my city and now I may not be able to stay here. I also think it’s a shame what it does to the mix of the city. At the age of six, I was already eating couscous with mint tea with my Moroccan neighbor. Living in a multicultural neighborhood creates surprises. You learn new things and nothing is too strange. If everyone is the same, it gets boring, doesn’t it?”

The exhibition ‘This is Hallstatt, No museum’ is currently in the Kunsthal. Rotterdam photographer Hans Wilschut took pictures of the small Austrian village of Hallstatt, which is overrun by mainly Asian tourists. During the corona pandemic, he went back to see what it looks like without hordes of people. Shehera: “The public is responding so enthusiastically to this exhibition. You can surprise with these kinds of small stories, I can use all my creativity in that.”

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