On Sept 12th, Amsterdam Museum banned the use of the term Gouden Eeuw, or ‘Golden Century’, in all of its future exhibitions. This term has been long used to refer to Dutch colonialism at its strongest point of scientific advancement and military power; a time that also coincided with great artistic works by Dutch masters such as Rembrant and Vermeer. But today, in acknowledgement of the exploitative realities of this time period, the previously unchecked praise for this era is being called into question. This question is as important to the art world as it is to everyone else:
How can we create a prosperous future as an integrated society without building our own success on the backs of others?
The director of Museum de Fundatie, Ralph Keuning, made reference to this important recent decision by his peers in his speech to open our newest exhibition of Congo Tales In Zwolle, Netherlands.
The Netherlands is the third country where the exhibition of our cross continental collaboration, Congo Tales, is available to be seen by the public. The first exhibitions took place in Mbomo and Brazzaville in Congo followed by the Museum Barberini in Germany.
The introduction to the project and the show was led by Eva Vonk, Pieter Henket and Kovo N’Sondé. The stunningly dynamic nature of the images in this exhibition have caused many questions about how the photos were produced. In a press conference held prior to the launch of the exhibit, Dutch press showed particular interest in how Tales of Us was able to gain the trust of the people of Mbomo.
Eva Vonk, co-initiator and Creative Director of the project spoke about the Tales of Us Initiative around the world. She explained the bigger scope of not only the project but it’s overarching methodology and process of development, stressing the teams commitment to Impact Producing. With inclusivity and sustainability as high values in this work, she spoke about how important it was, at every phase of the process, to continuously ask questions, invite dialog and partner with the people of Mbomo rather than impose a project upon them.
Kovo N’ Sonde, story adaptor for Congo Tales , echoed this value in his message about intercultural dialogue.
“I hope we can continue the process of decolonization. I believe that Congo Tales must be a pacific weapon to decolonize the mind, to fight against xenophobia, to battle the fear of the “other” because of its differences… This project and its new exhibition at Fundatie Museum is not about a white Dutch photographer taking pictures of black people. It’s about intercultural dialogue, collaboration, love and passion!”
Encompassing 12 tales told by the people of the Odzala Kokua, this 4th exhibition includes 43 breathtaking photos by Pieter Henket. The first floor cinema room will be dedicated to screening the award winning film The Little Fish and the Crocodile, Directed by Stefanie Platner. In addition, David Kemp’s authentic Congo soundscapes will fill the museums modern architecture over 3 floors.
With the recent purchase of 6 of the main pieces by one of the Netherlands biggest art institutions,‘the Rijksmuseum’, the Dutch press was eager to speak with Pieter about the way in which the photos were produced and his use of lighting considering the remote nature of the location. Henket was very open about his process of working with the elements in addition to his early inspirations around lighting by the old Dutch masters of painting.
The Museum de Fundatie is a visual arts museum in Zwolle, Netherlands. It currently holds a collection of works ranging from the end of the Middle Ages until the present day. In addition to its permanent collection, Congo Tales Museum de Fundatie exhibition will be available to the public from 14th of September to the 5th of Jan 2020.