Rotterdam art center drops colonial name for “Melly”
The art center on Witte de Withstraat in Rotterdam changed its name from the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art to Kunstinstituut Melly, it announced on Friday. The institute feels that the name Witte de With no longer fits in the current era.
The old name was already removed from the building's facade in June, after the facade was vandalized in an anti-racism protest. The activists left hand prints in red paint on the walls to represent the colonial violence committed by Witte de With.
The new name was chosen in an extensive process involving over 280 participants, according to the institute. The name "Melly" comes from a 1990 artwork by Canadian artist Ken Lum titled Melly Shum Hates her Job. The artwork was displayed at the institute and later returned due to public demand.
According to Kunstinstituut Melly, this artwork did not only develop the status of a local icon, but has "come to signify not only the image of a female, working-class 'anti-hero', but also a new relationship between the institution, the street, the city and the communities that is part of it."
The new name will be officially launched on January 27 next year.