Belhuizen (call shops which in The Netherlands functioned also as internet cafes) are places where access to technology has been made possible through the practical acquisition of knowledge related to specific usages, as most shops are operated by diaspora members connecting community members from within and outside of Europe. For migrant populations in Rotterdam, they are points of entry to local internet infrastructure, which enables the pursuit of everyday life.
In 2012, artist and researcher Olia Lialina wrote the text Still There: Rotterdam's Internet Cafes, about the few then remaining Rotterdam belhuizen. Belhuizen transformed from call shops and internet cafes into Lebara and Lyca branded phone repair stores. What know-how have the store owners developed? What products and specialisations characterise each shop? How do they maintain or create links within diaporic communities? How have these connections evolved as a result of mobile internet usage normalisation?
On July 13, Olia Lialina will join us online to share parts of her research. She will be joined by Sofia Boschat-Thorez, Julia Bande and Cristina Cochior of Varia, who will speak about their ongoing research about the current state of belhuizen in Rotterdam.
"Internet cafés tend to evoke a broad range of emotions as varied as the cafés themselves. Nostalgia for those who remember the bulky non-flat monitors; delight for those who encounter these cafés in tiny hamlets in the middle of nowhere; amazement for those who witness a vast space filled with dozens of computers, all of them occupied; a sense of community for those who can hear their mother tongue spoken, disorientation for those who don't; and contempt – for cafés in your neighbourhood." Olia Lialina, Still There: Rotterdam’s Internet Cafés, 2012
Olia Lialina is among the best-known participants in the 1990s net.art scene - an early-days, network-based art pioneer. Her early work had a great impact on recognizing the Internet as a medium for artistic expression and storytelling. This century her continuous and close attention to Internet architecture, "net.language" and digital vernacular has made her an important voice in contemporary art and new media theory. Lialina is credited with founding one of the earliest web galleries, Art Teleportacia. She is cofounder and keeper of One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age archive and a professor at Merz Akademie in Stuttgart, Germany and a GIF model.
Date: 13 July 2023
Time: 19:00-20:30 CEST
Location: Varia (Gouwstraat 3, Rotterdam)
This programme is made possible by Gemeente Rotterdam.