Expo: I Swear I Heard This

Spoken stories provide no evidence on paper or visual material; you take someone at their word. The listener automatically becomes the story’s owner and can pass on this information: an oral tradition that almost all cultures share. I Swear I Heard This combines different reconstructions into fictional and informative narratives reflecting on people and their environment, identity, image and right to a voice.

I Swear I Heard This comprises six stories told at six locations in Maastricht that relate to the story. We invited artists Abla elBahrawy, David Bernstein, Elke Uitentuis, Poku Mensah and the Onkruidenier (Ronald Boer, Jonmar van Vlijmen) to tell a story about migration because it is a topic their respective artistic practices also address but from different perspectives.

With or without human intervention, the earth’s environment and landscape change. Experience with De Onkruidenier a different timescale and the possibilities, or lack thereof, of humans, animals and plants adapting to their environment.

The change of environments happens in other stories through the conscious decisions of people: out of interest, expectation and the need to guarantee safety.

Opoku Mensah lets his alter ego wander, just like his parent, in a constant search. Elke Uitentuis collaborates with a group of refugees trying to lose their ‘limbo status’ in the Netherlands and finally start a new life.

Abla elBahrawy and Urok Shirhan’s stories explore both the fluctuation and expression of identity and nationality. Whereas Abla’s work deals with the relationship to history and tradition of physical material, Urok tackles the construction and reconstruction of folk songs.

David Bernstein also works with meaningful songs but puts them in a different light, and everyone walking past the synagogue is blessed with a beautiful day.


David Bernstein



Artist David Bernstein often works with language and performance. He has an ear for quirks and peculiarities, which he re-contextualises to add layers of meaning. Blessings explores the reconstruction and reinterpretation of Jewish blessings. Blessings allow Bernstein to focus our attention on daily rituals and experiences. You can imbue depth to simple moments like waking up. You can also use a blessing to address questions of life, such as ‘who am I?’, ‘where am I from?’ and ‘where am I at home?’ Parts of your culture and identity are hereditary, but you can choose how you connect to them.

Next to the synagogue, you can hear Blessing for the Morning, Blessing for the Door, Blessing for the Night, andBlessing for the Name. Indridi produced the beat, and Sophia Holst performed additional vocals.

Beide dagen 11:00 – 17:00 Synagoge Lantaarnpaal nabij Boogaardenstraat 37

Opoku Mensah

Wizard of the Dark Knight


Migration is an integral part of Opoku Mensah’s art practice. His contemplative approach means spending much time thinking and researching. Opoku investigates notions of belonging and relocation. His African origin is an important part of the experience of cultures, institutions and stigma.

The fictional character Wizard of the Dark Knight is a reflection on his experiences. His story starts with his mother and contrasts reality and expectations through perceptions of ‘the West’. On Stationsplein, a place of arrival and departure, he uses sound to poetically expresses the moving body.

Both days 11:00 – 17:00 Maastricht station Lantaarnpaal near Stationsplein 27

Urok Shirhan

The Post-National Anthems


Urok Shirhan’s work examines the politics of image, sound and speech in relation to identity and national identity. Her projects mainly use video, performance and text, often interwoven with found materials and autobiographical stories. She has recently been investigating how language, phonetics, displacement and assimilation affect the voice and tongue.

At the location where local singing legend André Rieu traditionally closes every concert with the Maastricht national anthem, Urok’s The Post-National Anthems plays. This recording links the current Iraqi national anthem’s origins to that of the North American occupier, who introduced the song in 2003, probably unaware of its Palestinian origin and use.

In a remix, possible compositions of Iraqi, Palestinian, Dutch and American national anthems and texts are introduced and sung by the artist.

Both days 11:00 – 17:00 Vrijthof, plaquette André Rieu Lantaarnpaal near Vrijthof 18

Abla elBahrawy



Abla elBahrawy is an architect and researcher from Cairo. Her work moves between architecture, archaeology and art. Since 2010, Abla has been working on a long-term research project investigating excavated houses in Luxor, Egypt, and the aftermath of their remains. She presents a collection of objects whose excavation stories take place in physical and/or metaphorical sites.

The project intertwines anecdotes about the ambiguity of archaeological practice and knowledge creation.

Abla is currently working on the fifth story, The Fall of a Reed. She focuses on making papyrus and the story of its development, from historical material to the contemporary production associated with fluctuating interpretations of nationality and identity.

Both days 11:00 – 17:00 Sappi Fabriek Lantaarnpaal nabij Biesenweg 16