The KABK Graduation Catalogue 2023 showcases work of PhDArts, bachelor and master students graduated at the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague (KABK).
Bachelor Graphic Design
Good Soup: bring your own spoon
In a 2017 episode of the television series Girls, Adam and Hannah are sitting in a diner slowly and painfully breaking up. Towards the end of the scene, Adam takes a slurp of his soup and, in a deadpan voice says, ‘good soup’. This scene re-emerged in 2021 and gained a lot of traction on TikTok, becoming a viral meme. Deep into the pandemic, we can only wonder why this tiny soundbite resonated in social media spheres.
The title of this graduation show, Good Soup, was chosen by the graduating class—first in reference to this meme, but slowly unfolding into a deeper metaphor. What does it mean to have good soup? It’s a signal of warmth, of care towards one another, of collectively bringing disparate ingredients together into a cohesive whole. Perhaps, in light of daily struggles, in the face of a global pandemic, working through studies at the art academy during lockdowns, unable to fully connect, at least you can have some good soup.
As a transnational dish, appearing in culinary histories all over the world, soup as a metaphor highlights this graduating class with their array of cultural backgrounds, diverse topics, and perspectives. In this exhibition, a wide range of works come together into this soupy mix, making space for a multiplicity of interpretations—leaking into and out of one another. From the re-imagining of Femtech through a sci-fi lens to preserving and queering the disappearing visual language of Chinese fortune telling to a collaborative drawing workshop built from the spirit of the 70s and 80s art scenes in The Netherlands—this graduation show highlights the expansiveness and diversity of approaches to creating work within the field of graphic design.
This show highlights that the discipline of graphic design is porous and leaky, moving outside of its preconceived boundaries. The works show the potentialities for graphic design to not only be a discipline, but also a tool for engaging in critical thinking, in-depth research, and storytelling. In Living a Feminist Life, Sara Ahmed writes that “[a] concept is worldly, but it is also a reorientation to a world, a way of turning things around, a different slant on the same thing.” This multiplicity of perspectives, this turning of things around, provides another lens through which we can engage with, and encounter, the world(s) around us.
Good Soup brings together works that engage with, and put into question, violent, colonial histories and dominant social narratives—through mapping, herbal healing, collective feminist libraries, aural reclamations, and embracing of failure. Personal histories are entangled with notions or nostalgia or put into tensions with political and historical narratives; from transliteration and abjad numerals to the material histories of kilim weaving to the cultural heritage of dried and salted cod. And returning once again to the urge for collective forms, there are works that are activated by the public—creating spaces for gathering together, exploring archives, drawing collectively, and finding a common meeting ground.
As we weave our ways through these works, that try to bring into being new perspectives and the possibilities of other worlds, let the words of adrienne maree brown in Emergent Strategy resonate: “transformation doesn’t happen in a linear way, at least not one we can always track. It happens in cycles, convergences, explosions. If we release the framework of failure, we can realise that we are in iterative cycles, and we can keep asking ourselves—how do I learn from this?”