With the recent rise of populist politics our suspicions have become an arena for manipulation. Suspicion is often constructed in opposition to what we consider ‘normal’. But stigmatising the abnormal as suspicious, can restrict our engagement beyond our cultural boundaries. That’s why Mark Henning challenges our notions of what is normal and what is not. His project explores one of the most standard and socially accepted gestures we know: the handshake. With the increase in migration it has in fact become embodied in discussions centred on assimilation, shared values and ‘dominant’ cultures.
A tangible result of his research is a training table that functions as a stage or platform, with a set of rules and tools to perform ‘the perfect handshake’ — playfully showing the absurdity of our constructed ‘normal’. The performance is framed in the environment of immigration processes in the Netherlands, which becomes representative for the larger European context.
Graduation project, 2017