For most of us, our favourite fictional characters exist only in the intangible universes of comics, films, or games. However, there are those who bridge this gap and bring their fantasies to the real world: cosplayers.
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At comic book conventions, such as Dutch Comic Con, fans meet their favourite characters, in person, from video games, anime, TV shows, or comic books. Cosplayers, people who dress up as their favourite characters, are a popular feature at these events.

Cosplayers physically and mentally transform into their favoured personality, with matching handmade outfits, props, and backstories. Cosplay plays with shaping identity and offers the possibility to respond to narratives in an individual and unique way. You could find yourself face to face with a devil spirit cosplayer, complete with pointy horns, flaming wings, and scarlet eyes, who, with a demonic tiger, is trying to kill her power hungry husband.

During Character Building, we transform the showroom into a cosplay mecca, where you can experiment with and learn all about all aspects of cosplay. Character Building is an interactive and dynamic exhibition, where the visitor contributes to the development of this three-month project. Throughout the exhibition, the creative output of the (professional) cosplayers and visitors will be increasingly intertwined with forms of fan fiction and fan art.

Character Building offers space for a contemporary cultural phenomenon that deserves admiration for its rich artistry. Cosplayers have the creative ability to question the status quo and shape their own identity. Within a safe environment, MAMA focuses on a contrarian and emancipatory vision on fan culture. The exhibition is based on issues related to gender identity, white supremacy, sexism, racism, and mainstream representations. Character Building is for those who believe in an inclusive and loving future.

The exhibition opens of September 28. You are very welcome to join us at the opening, especially in cosplay of other creative embodiment!

This project is supported by Stichting Bevordering van Volkskracht, the VSB Fund, City of Rotterdam and the Mondriaan Fund.

Cosplayers

Elfmist
as La Pucelle (Magical Girl Raising Project)

Elfmist is a cosplayer who prefers original and distinct characters. At 2.15 meters, his appearance is impressive. It is not for nothing that his mantra is “go big or go home”. For Jochem, cosplaying in more than merely wearing an outfit: the combined performance is of utmost importance.

Iska Cosplay
as Medivh (World of Warcraft)

Iska Cosplay is a creative autodidact who enjoys experimenting with new materials and techniques. She paints, sculpts, photographs, and makes cuddly toys and jewellery. Making cosplay outfits compliments perfectly these activities. For Character Building Iska is focusing on Medivh: a powerful magician who can shape-shift into a crow and tries to correct his past mistakes.

Lucid Belle
as Devil Kazumi (Tekken 7)

In addition to her editorial duties for Character Building Lucid Belle is also participating as a cosplayer. As a member of the Hajicho clan, sworn fighters of evil, it is Kazumi’s fate to kill her corrupt, depraved husband. This destiny is such an inextricable part of Kazumi that even when she dies, she will return, in devilish form, to the world of the living to fulfil her task.

SilasTheViirus
as 10K (Z Nation)

SilasTheViirus describes herself as someone with a lively sense of fantasy, who often imagines what it would be like living in the same universe as his favourite characters. She quickly tires of earthly matters, but the cosplay phenomenon continually fascinates her because of its almost infinite creative possibilities. During Character Building, Silas will play the role of 10K from the Z Nation television series. 10K is known as a quietly observant sniper with a steady hand and, of course, for wanting to kill 10,000 zombies.

Editorial members

Daryl Grootfaam
Daryl is a writer, actor, and the founder of the Kracom Foundation, which aims to stimulate local mythologies in public spaces. In this capacity, Daryl organises the Krampuslauf in Rotterdam, an alternative and inclusive form of the Sinterklaas festivities.

Esmeralda Hoffman
Esmeralda is a cosplayer known as Future Silver Bullet and became part of Team MAMA in 2015. She studied Media and Entertainment Management in Rotterdam, specialising in Art & Business of Gaming. This included an internship as a community manager at Guerilla Games, where she worked with the Cosplay and fan community on the popular game Horizon Zero Dawn. As a member of the cosplay community, Esmeralda seeks more critical engagement and wants to use Character Building to initiate conversations about representation in popular culture.

Estherbel Venema
Estherbel, also known by her cosplayname Lucid Belle, has been an enthusiast of gaming, anime, and fantasy since childhood. She began cosplaying in 2015 and since then has gained international acclaim for her outfits. She mentors and supports new cosplayers, the cosplay community, and pop-culture enthusiasts.

Harmen Meinsma
Harmen grew up with his grandmother in a small village in Friesland. As a teenager, he often felt like an outsider, but from an early age, photography provided a positive escape. What started with building small sets in an attic room, photographing himself and girlfriends, became an obsession of elevating the underdog. He is inspired by what he encounters in reality, giving it his own twist through exaggeration and playing with clichés.

Nicolle Lamerichs
Dr Nicolle Lamerichs is a senior lecturer and team leader in Creative Business at the University of Applied Sciences Utrecht. She holds a PhD in Media Studies from Maastricht University. Her thesis, Productive Fandom (2014), is about participatory culture and new media, specifically popular culture, storytelling, and playing.

Yahaira Brito Morfe
At 19, Yahaira is the youngest Team MAMA editorial member. She is a fan fiction writer and is completing her studies at the Grafisch Lyceum Rotterdam, after which she hopes to attend the KABK and then study Anthropology & Sociology in Brussels. Yahaira became involved with MAMA in 2017, first as an intern and now as the Networks project coordinator and programme maker for the Grvy Art Festival.

 

 

Team MAMA

Frédéric van de Velde
Producer

Frédéric (1987) obtained his MA in New Media from KASK in Ghent in 2014 and then relocated to Rotterdam to work at WORM, where he founded the WORM Pirate Bay, an open archive and media centre specialising in the history of the avant-garde. Frédéric currently works at DE PLAYER (Rotterdam) and as a freelance programme maker and producer within the cultural sector.

Laura Deschepper
Project content manager

Laura (1992) is fascinated by non-normativity in the fields of gender, sexuality, and body politics. She is currently establishing a new community platform as part of Queer Rotterdam. From this development, she organised (with Get a Room!) a screening of queer animations at WORM. This community formation has already resulted in several activities, such as the Queer Summer occupation at WORM’s Performance Bar in July 2018. After studying Film and Theatre Studies and Culture Management, both at the University of Antwerp, she worked together with SKaGeN, The Ministry of Operatic Affairs, and Stieglitz 19. Laura is also the office manager at SPIN and the business coordinator at the Bâtard Festival, both in Brussels.

Marloes de Vries
Editor in Chief

Marloes (1990) has been working as a programme-maker and curator at MAMA from 2014 till July 2018, developing exhibitions, events, and publications at the interface of popular culture and contemporary art. After studying Teaching Fine Art and Design, she worked at W139 space for contemporary art in Amsterdam and was an editor for the experimental youth platform VPRO Dorst.

 

About HOME

HOME is the leitmotiv by which we encourage conversation about conceptions regarding belonging, representation and identification. HOME is a fundament, the place you return to and anchorpoint for the journey onward. HOME (offline as well as online) is the start of feeling connect to others. Under the name HOME we also present exhibitions in the showroom of MAMA. In collaboration with young makers we express interpretations about HOME | IN REAL LIFE | NETWORKS.

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