Hidden (Hi)stories – 13 projects selected

The Creative Industries Fund NL has selected 13 projects in the Open Call Hidden (Hi)stories. The open call, a collaboration with the Nieuwe Instituut, focuses on unlocking hidden stories through design. The selected projects will participate in meetings and knowledge sessions at the Nieuwe Instituut starting in January 2024 and will form a working group together within the Tool Shed programme.

31 January 2024

The emphasis of the Open Call Hidden (Hi)stories is on stories set in the context (local or otherwise) of the Dutch colonial past and post-colonial present. The design tasks can relate to local communities or places, but can also be about a relationship of the diaspora with the Kingdom of the Netherlands. For instance, hidden or erased places, rituals, legacies or perspectives. Projects can centre on stories not told before, but can also question ‘canonical’ knowledge. Which stories have been found important so far? How does this affect design, architecture and digital culture or conversations about this past and present in, for example, education? What do the stories mean for choices in urban developments and spatial policies, for the use or misuse of materials and resources, or for the accessibility (or inaccessibility) of archives and technologies?

Lisette Alberti – Defining Divinity: investigating the Taiwanese deify of VOC-ers


The following 13 projects have been selected:
- Sprekende geschiedenis – Storianan Skondi di Karibe
- el KANTOOR architectuur – In/Visible walls - Stories from the Kampungs of Batavia Indonesië
- NEST – Achter de façade
- Impossible Wherever – Transoceanic Disclose: Weaving Architectural Herstories
- Beyond Provenance – Artefacts after the Regime of Care
- JAG – A Feverish Theatre of Truth
- ACTE Architecture Studio – Hidden Materials Unearthed: From Colonial Wood Plunder to Ecological Justice
- Serana Angelista – Awakening the Archive
- Lisette Alberti – Defining Divinity: investigating the Taiwanese deify of VOC-ers
- Studio L A – Cups of Memory
- Stichting B.A.R.R. – Gamelan PORTAL
- Studio Watershore – Ghosts in Foreign Lands: Unveiling Colonial History Through Folk Narratives
- Counter/Narratives – Archival Horizons

Serana Angelista – Awakening the Archive


With the exception of the Cups of Memory project, which focuses on the experiences (lived or otherwise) of various parties involved in the genocide in Srebrenica, all the selected projects have a direct link to the Netherlands’ colonial past. The projects focus specifically on the impact of architecture and urban planning, nature and ecology, and social rituals and practices in different countries and regions. A number of projects link contemporary social developments, such as deforestation, to practices from the colonial past. Another recurring topic is the preservation and findability of material and immaterial heritage and its repatriation.

ACTE Architecture Studio – Hidden Materials Unearthed: From Colonial Wood Plunder to Ecological Justice

project forms

Several projects are aimed at documenting knowledge, rituals and stories or sites at risk of neglect or even erasure. Interestingly, the emphasis is not always on preservation, but often on finding a new use and therefore a new meaning that aligns with and enhances the experience of local communities. Several projects aim to develop a digital-mapping archive or platform as a form to make the outcomes of the process (including the research) accessible to a wide audience. An exhibition or publication is also often chosen as a way to share knowledge. It is also striking that several projects are developing methodologies to capture knowledge in an inclusive way. For example, in Awakening the Archive, the aim is to use personal ancestry research to develop a prototype set of tools that can provide others searching for their ancestors with an alternative research route.


The maximum amount of subsidy per project was € 40,000. The open call consisted of two phases, with selected projects in the first phase receiving a € 3,000 writing grant to develop a collaborative project within a month. In the second phase, 13 projects were selected to implement the elaborated proposal. Parallel to the implementation of the project, the project partners follow an exchange programme facilitated by the Nieuwe Instituut in collaboration with the Fund.


All applications received were submitted to an independent advisory committee consisting of Lila Athanasiadou, Mike Emmerik, Amira Gad and Meryem Slimani. They assessed the proposals in two phases on the following criteria:

Phase 1:
- The chosen topic and issue;
- The collaboration(s);
- The positioning.

Phase 2:
- The significance of the chosen topic and issue;
- The extent of the project’s effectiveness in terms of structure and methodology;
- The positioning;
- The structure of the collaboration(s);
- The method of knowledge sharing of final and intermediate results.

knowledge sharing

As part of the Open Call Hidden (Hi)stories, the Nieuwe Instituut and the Creative Industries Fund NL are organizing a Tool Shed knowledge-sharing programme for the selected projects that together form a working group. The aim here is to link the selected projects to each other and to involve experts from the field in the series of meetings being organized.

The series of meetings, organized at the Nieuwe Instituut, invites the selected projects to reflect on and build on their knowledge tools, and to link knowledge gained to identified urgencies. The focus of the programme is both research-based and practical. It considers the project’s relationships with hidden legacies and perspectives, how these challenge historical knowledge and in what ways projects can productively open up knowledge to the target audience.

The Hidden (Hi)stories Tool Shed programme learns from and takes as starting point the Nieuwe Instituut’s Collecting Otherwise project and the Tool Shed. Here, a working group of researchers, designers, writers, artists and archivists conducted multi-year exchanges to dissect the hidden legacies in the Nieuwe Instituut’s collection. During the monthly sessions, members of the working group shared resources, provided insights into their ongoing self-initiated or commissioned projects that started from this archival collection, and supported each other in building alternative instruments (tools) to acquire, classify and present inaccessible heritage ‘differently’.

Within the working group, the Hidden (Hi)stories Tool Shed programme is geared towards sharpening performances within the projects and expanding observed knowledge, while building networks and opportunities for exchange. A final meeting will be held at the Nieuwe Instituut in November 2024, where participants will share their intermediate insights and outcomes with a wider audience. More details will be announced later this year.