Showroom NL - URU

The Songs of Diana: the Countess of Otherness"

DIANA BLOK. EL PRAN Projecten. Curatorial Operation

The Songs of Diana: the Countess of Otherness

Otherness, as a philosophical, anthropological, and epistemological notion supposes a geocultural historical knowledge about the “other”. A principle where the heterogeneous is submissive under language and the homogeneous, pre-established, immovable categories…

Diana Blok, an Uruguayan-Dutch artist, uses this thinking and position of otherness to articulate a groundbreaking artistic production, questioning in every sense of the word. She has created her own space of enunciation, in which she shows the condition of the rarity of the “other” subject as a possibility of existence, a need for reflection and presence.

Analyzing the discourse of otherness as the philosophical basis of Diana Blok’s work, allows us to understand the peripheral subject from different points of view, starting from her personal experience as a nomadic subject, as a migrant, and chameleon-like woman. She was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, and later lived in Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, and the Netherlands, the latter becoming her more permanent home. She grew up and was formed with all this cultural and identity diversity nested in her body, and this was the main leitmotiv that she has expressed through her artistic production. She questions ideas and positions; she challenges solid structures; she destabilizes systems of thought. In her words: “…I often felt as if I were looking from the outside in” (Statement by the artist).

Blok offers with her visual representations an artistic context where we can identify ourselves from our differences. It normalizes otherness and assumes it as a flag. She proposes a visual system that operates parallel with the concept and praxis of art as integration and integration as art. In this way, her proposal is integrated into the artistic production system of the Netherlands, Latin America, and the Caribbean and into the social integration systems of each of these geo-cultural contexts. In this sense, rich symbolic parallelism is established between The Songs of Maldoror, by Count de Lautréamont, and Diana Blok’s artistic production.

The Count of Lautréamont -the Count of the Other World- was an Uruguayan-French character who recognized himself as different. His masterpiece, The Songs of Maldoror, constituted a destabilizing social and cultural tactic in his time. From the assumption of the French language for its narration to a pseudonym with a dense social and political background, with a harsh language to narrate, to an aesthetic that today we would classify as queer, the social denormalization of that time. The Songs of Maldoror and the Count of Lautréamont represented a suspicious initiative while facing a contingency to penetrate the systems of thought and visualization of his time.

The Count of Lautréamont -the Count of the Other World- was and, Diana integrates herself in that, let’s say, the antecedent of art as integration and integration as art, also from a singular, unusual, even twisted posture and discourse. She moves from her geo-cultural context of the Netherlands, inserts herself in the Latin and Caribbean production system from where she builds collaborations to highlight and normalize that otherness.

‘Gender Monologues’, ‘I challenge you to love me’, and ‘Presence, the singularity of plurality’, make up Diana’s songs in this showroom. She assumes the otherness, the singular, and the subject as vertices of a system of production which positions them in similar conditions of symbologies, of discourse. With all this she has diagrammed a systematization of a singular documentation process, that revels in the different, the twisted, and the strange. 

Gender Monologues questions and disrupt the historical limits of gender identity through an operation in which performers assume roles of the opposite sex. This is a kind of performative action based on photography, video, and installation, where the spectator is confronted with the discovery of these other identities -fictitious; assumed by the actors. 

I challenge you to love me also discusses the fluidity and variability of every concept: regarding the diversity of affective and sexual relationships. Mainly, it deals with everything related to otherness and projects it as a testimony, without any concealment: “…the characters portrayed [accentuate] the reading of otherness and the relevance of understanding the interaction and social interdependence with the other as if to sustain: you are me; you are the other; I am you” (Cinara Barbosa, curator, researcher, and professor at the Department of Visual Arts of the University of Brasilia).

Presence, the singularity of plurality constitutes an artistic proposal with a manifest dose of cynicism and questioning. To appreciate these compositions of leaves that seem to levitate and react to the movements to which the artist submits them is to understand a position of human-plant resource equity. She strips all objectivization from what she portrays and humanizes it to the point of disturbing so much realism, so much truth. The human and the singular, the established and the twisted: Diana proposes through these images readings of an otherness that remains at a disadvantage since the times the Count of Lautréamont struggles to insert himself organically into society. Therefore she breaks those systems of thought, reading, and action from a singular, uncomfortable and different representation. From within her artistic praxis, she normalizes this supposed “denormalization”: just as the Count of Lautréamont did in his time. 

Nelson Gonzalez. Curaduria Malandra
Dec. 2021

Presence, the singularity of plurality

Series: The singularity of plurality. Work in Progress

This selection of works, comprising different periods of artistic production of Diana Blok between Suriname, Turkey, Brazil, Netherlands. forming a work in progress between the years 2007 and 2021. It includes a system of collective participation made up of a high caliber technical and acting team. We invite you to see this selection as the synopsis of an uninterrupted line of research in three different contexts.

Gender Monologues 2016-2021 (on going )

Purcy Tijn incorporates Marilyn Monroe – Series: Gender Monologues.

Helen Kamperveen incorporates James Baldwin – Series: Gender Monologues.

Grace Passo incorporates Martin Luther King Jr – Series: Gender Monologues.

Matheus Nachtergaele incorporates his Mother – Series: Gender Monologues.

Hamlet, actress Abke Haring

Cas Enklaar incorporates Madame Lubov – Series: Gender Monologues.

Michel Melhamed incorporates Yemanja

Iara Pietricovsky incorporates Fernando Pessoa

Gender Monologues  by Diana Blok

Adventures in Cross-Casting 1997-2014

Albert Mol incorporates Queen Elizabeth

 Monica Blok incorporates Jesus Christ Superstar

Felix de Rooy incorporates Frida Kahlo

 Marian Luif incorporates Ben the dumb Walter

 Christopher Steele incorporates Salome, Oscar Wilde 

I challenge you to love me 2007-2018 (on going )

This series of works is made in collaboration with LGBTQI in Amsterdam, Turkey and Brazil

I challenge you to love me / See Through Us, Turkey

I challenge you to love me / See Through Us, Turkey

I challenge you to love me / See Through Us, Turkey

I challenge you to love me / See Through Us, Turkey

I challenge you to love me. Brazil

I challenge you to love me. Brazil

I challenge you to love me. Brazil

I challenge you to love me. Brazil

I challenge you to love me. Brazil

I challenge you to love me
A documentary by Diana Blok 

About Diana Blok. Infographic


Diana Blok. NL - UY


My photographic work has evolved from a need for understanding, change and transformation. I grew up a migrant, a nomad, a pilgrim, a citizen of the state of transition. I traveled light, shedding memorabilia, paraphernalia, and roots.

Born in Montevideo, Uruguay to a Dutch Jewish diplomat-father and a Catholic Argentinean mother I lived in Uruguay, Mexico, Guatemala and Colombia until moving to the Netherlands in the early 70’s. Growing up where civil wars were a reality, I witnessed through a young girl’s eyes polarities that became sources of inspiration.

As a diaspora artist I learned to express cultures and identities through my work, challenging ideas and structures of the established world, where I often felt as if looking in from the outside.

Staging and framing reality, making choices and editing allowed me to retreat into a world of my own, with all the characters inside it. I developed an open attitude to a sense of place—who am I in all of this? Sexual identity, women’s rights, gender inequality, imposed aesthetics, racial discrimination and religious belief systems became my focus and visual quest. My archive serves as a diary, a memory bank.

Photography is a ritual where memory and reverie are made visible and friends tangible. In this ritual I am still able to relocate, redefine the heart of my being and my relationship to those around me. Visually I continue to question answers.

Portraiture gives me the illusion that I can assemble an extended family, frozen memories as stepping stones to moments in the past. Novelist Bart Plantega wrote for EYE magazine: ‘Blok’s photos of people – be they friends, family, or passersby – serve as heavy stones that might temporarily serve to hold down the corners of a nomad’s tent.’


  • Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, NL
  • Centre Pompidou, Paris
  • Cartier Foundation, Paris, France
  • Joods Historisch Museum (Museo Judaico) Amsterdam, NL
  • Rijksdienst Beeldende Kunst, Den Haag (Netherlands)
  • Polaroid Collection, Boston, (USA)
  • Photography Museum, Charleroi, Belgium
  • Biblioteque National, Paris
  • Tokyo Metropolitan Museum, Tokyo
  • Collection Bert Hartkamp, The Netherlands
  • Museum Hedendaagse Kunst De Domijnen, Sittard, NL.
  • Dunhill Dutch Photography, The Netherlands
  • Uwe Schmidt Collection, Cologne, Germany
  • Horbach Collection, Germany
  • Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires
  • Holly Solomon collection, New York @dianaelenablok

Left: Self-portrait with Flora, 1975

Curator: Nelson Gonzalez & Gerardo Zavarce
Production: Zurishaddai Tremus

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