The SIS Empowerment: Students Take the Stage

So many hours are spent yearly on a final thesis which will determine whether you will graduate from the university programme which you’ve put so much hard work into for years. But does anyone actually end up reading the paper that determines their future, except for the professor grading it and/or the friend evaluating it prior to submission?


The graphic design class of 2019 from the Royal Academy of Art in the Hague came to the realization that this was a shame and a waste of all their hard work, and thus they decided to create an event to showcase their thoughts and writings and share it with others. And so, on the 22nd of February, in NDSM’s Sexyland Society, people had the chance to attend THE SIS (named as a quirky play on the word “thesis”), a program which Pien Kars (23), one of the organizers and a graduate of the Academy, described as empowering and symbolistic.


The students used their knowledge of graphic design to transform their words into visuals and performances to guide people through the evening. The night’s program consisted of performances from 43 participants, covering a diverse range of topics: subject matter included ‘one-man actions,’ ‘hand axes,’ existential crises from identities chosen and identities given and fiction feminist worlds where energy is created by orgasms. The style of performances varied, with the program including an array of mediums such as readings, short films and live paintings.

Rebecca Joly (24), one of the night’s performers, told the Amsterdammer that taking part in THE SIS event was an opportunity to reconnect with her classmates because at the final and crucial phase of your studies you tend to forget that you are actually sharing this last year with all these other people. She added it was easy to close yourself off when you shouldn’t, so she saw the event as a way to raise awareness on not only their theses but also on each other.

On another note, the decor of the exhibition was artistic and lively as well. Other than the art displayed around, the entire interior was decorated with theses stuck together, symbolizing the unity of the class.

After four hours of creative performances, a minute of silence ensued in honour of all the time and hard work spent on the theses, after which all the theses used as decoration were torn down and symbolically burned – a power move met with joy from all the guests and graduates.

A page from the final thesis of a graduate of graphic design from the Royal Academy of Art (the Hague) / Courtesy of the Amsterdammer

Giulia Nuij (18), a UvA student and guest at the event, told The Amsterdammer that to her the burning act showcased the students finally being able to take their future into their own hands, instead of it depending on 50 pages of stress and research.


This bonfire of theses was also the opening to the after-party, which lasted until the early hours of the morning and was met by applause and laughter. Even though some copies where symbolically destroyed, all theses performed can still be found online.

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  • Avenue Reporter (Winter 2019)
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