(Netherlands, 1994, real name Adam Bais) is a music and word artist with more than 400K streams on Spotify, who once described himself as a philosophical rapper who creates hip hop music. But he is much more than that. His first solo album, Praten Over Leven (Talking about Life, 2017), is full of hip hop grooves, nods to fellow rappers and, above all, a strong mix of musical genres. His second album Behave (2018) criticizes the Dutch "be normal" mentality amid soulful beats. In 2019, Fro scored with the EP In the City, about identity, gentrification, love and spirituality in a world where money and status are paramount, followed in 2020 by the EP I Love Them.
Archive available for: Benjamin Fro
More and more authors are giving the climate and the climate crisis a prominent role in their work. Think of the recent novels of Eva Meijer, Margaret Atwood and Richard Powers, for example. Few, however, dare to address the subject of climate inequality or climate racism.
All too often, you hear the expression, "we're all in the same boat". We are indeed all caught up in the same rough seas of the climate crisis. But social-economic status, skin colour and geographic location determine whether one weathers the storm aboard a luxury cruise liner or a leaky raft. It is the opinion of programme maker Joëlle Koorneef that it's up to us to use all our literary capabilities to put this on the agenda.
The novel The Swan Book (2013) by Aboriginal author Alexis Wright takes place in a future world destroyed by extreme climate change. Due to drought, forest fires and dying coral reefs, Australia is a forerunner in experiencing the effects of the climate crisis. In Wright's work, the continent is an almost dystopian literary setting in which injustices continue to multiply.
Fiep van Bodegom, a writer, translator and editor with literary magazine De Gids, talked with Wright about the value of literature in the context of the climate crisis and the position of the writer to spur (climate) activism.
We provided fragments of Wright's work - distinguished by its raw, living language - to spoken-word artists and poets to use the power of their words to make this subject comprehensible in every way. Live from the Theater aan het Spui, these included the rebellious and deeply engaged word, rap and music artist Benjamin Fro and the filmmaker, performer and activist Chihiro Geuzebroek. There were also impressive video contributions by British poet, YouTube star and literary video essayist Leena Norms and the Indian poet and word artist Sanam Sheriff.
With Van Bodegom, they discussed how they shape their artistry as well as a desire for a more just world. Is it a balancing act, or is it the only way they can profess their artistry?
The Winternachten International Literature Festival signaled that a new generation is now rising up that doesn't view art and activism as opposing poles but operates fluidly between them. During the festival we encouraged giving this movement a voice and sharing sources of inspiration in the dedicated Facebook group we openend on 7 January.
Read here the contributions written for this programme on request of the Winternachten international literature festival The Hague:
- The Farmer's Great-Granddaughter | Leena Norms | video poem
- Sanam Sheriff
- Benjamin Fro
- Chihiro Geuzebroek | Dammed People
(Find the Dutch-language versions here/Lees hier de Nederlandstalige versies)
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