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Researcher @ Willem de Kooning Academy


Dr Skye Maule-O’Brien is an educator, researcher, and passionate connector of people and ideas. Her PhD from York University (Toronto) focused on the development of a theory and method called intimate pedagogy. Her projects bring together visual arts with 38 questions of how our intimate lives are spaces of knowledge creation and political resistance. She holds a BFA in Art History, with a minor in Adult Education, and a Master’s in Educational Studies from Concordia University (Montreal). Now in Rotterdam, she works at Willem de Kooning Academy leading interdisciplinary pedagogy projects, decolonial shifts in curriculum and administration across their interlinked Practices and Honours programmes.

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Colonialism’s crucible: Exploring Caribbean colonial legacies and decolonial practices


Breath & Breeze: The Wind’s Tongueless Whispers

I began thinking about the wind as a holder of power, history, and memory while living in Barbados. Now in Rotterdam, where the presence of the wind is also difficult to ignore, my attention to its capacities of communication has only increased. This project looks at the wind and wind technology, and the connection to the Dutch colonial footprint in Barbados. The Dutch played an extensive role in shaping colonial rule, trade, labour, and the plantation economies through wind technology in Barbados. With more than 500 windmills on the island, more than any other country besides the Netherlands, their ruins now pepper the landscape referencing the visual trope that is synonymous with the Netherlands, while calling back to the total plantation that dominated the island. The skeletal remains of the windmills that are part of the visual landscape of Barbados, remind us of something that is supposed to be long over and done with, but which lingers unresolved. I question, what does this history tell us about how we are connected across time and geographical space today? I explore how past colonial structures and the systems of power that built them continue to haunt our lives. I attempt to foster a decolonial remembering and challenge the way colonial histories are forgotten in the Netherlands. My hope is to make the intangible linkages of this history apparent to offer relational perspectives and conversations on how living at the edges of the Atlantic, with its high winds and churning storms, connect us.

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