The World After #9 – Aimée Zito Lema

May 14, 2020

In The World After we invite artists to respond to questions about the Anthropocene after the Coronavirus pandemic. This project is inspired by the exhibition Poems for Earthlings by Adrián Villar Rojas. More information about the project and other artist contributions can be found on our overview pageThe World After is initiated by the Oude Kerk in collaboration with mister Motley.

The World After #9
Aimée Zito Lema, Newness, 2020

Artist Aimée Zito Lema, whose solo exhibition at the Oude Kerk has been postponed to 2021 because of the coronacrisis, reflected on the following question: What are universal human rights? Her contribution consists of a short film and the following text:

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948, was the result of the horrific experience of the Second World War.

What should our Universal Rights be today?

Should we learn to re-read?

The documentation of an intimate space, the world inside my house, weeks in isolation, the social distancing, the waiting, time and space hanging, quietly, differently, seen through a filter, a change of view. An X-ray of my environment, the routines, the space where I feel safe, the things I take for granted.

From this intimate space, I wonder: Is there any human right even possible if it is not universal? Are my freedom, my right to justice, my health, my love, my shelter, my passport, my vote, my clothing, my food, possible if it’s not shared universally? How real, how desirable is it then?

In these weeks of quarantine, many things have altered its regular order. Myself as many parents, have become home-teachers of our children. Learning to read, is what my daughter is doing every day these days.

Learning to read. Learning to write.


Not a drop of blood
but a wave of
city change
a hole in the void coming
ever closer
it wants us to fill it with
something big something new
a dream
two strong fingers on one hand
closer still: two knuckles
deny they belong together
that the world is crying out for newness
because you know it can’t go on
any longer
will people work together
on a new beginning
of times that together
work on the people
to embrace the newness
side by side
fingers intertwining.

Voice: Mia Blaton
Text: based on the poem “Nieuwte” by Mona Thomasse
Translation: InOtherWords, D’Laine Camp & Maria van Tol

The poem ‘Nieuwte’ was written by student Mona Thomasse (b. Vlaardingen, 2004) in the context of a writing workshop organized by Aimée Zito Lema in collaboration with poetry teacher Dasja Koot, as part of Zito Lema’s site-specific project commissioned by the Oude Kerk, for her upcoming exhibition (2021).