Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam has launched Project ‘1975’, a two-year programme exploring the relationship between contemporary art and colonialism. In a programme spanning exhibitions, seminars and publications, SMBA focuses on issues such as the role of visual culture in today's colonial practices, and adds its voice to the globalisation debate. The current presentation by Gario, Groenendaal and Ruitenbeek is a pause for introspection within this programme. This time, attention turns to the Netherlands.
Cultural theorist and theatre maker Quinsy Gario examines in his essay in SMBA Newsletter nr. 127 a Dutch classic: Wim Verstappen and Pim de la Parra’s 1971 erotic blockbuster ‘Blue Movie’, famous primarily for its emphasis on free sex and explicit scenes. Blue Movie marks a key moment in the Netherlands’ increasing perception of itself as a sexually open and tolerant nation; an image that emerged in the 1970s. During this time, decolonisation also became final, when Suriname achieved independence in 1975. Subsequently, many Dutch nationals of Suriname descent migrated to the low countries, coinciding with the peak of the influx of labour migrants, referred to at the time as ‘guest workers’. Gario analyses Blue Movie against this background and, through a detour among post-colonial theory and research, raises a number of criticisms of the much-acclaimed Dutch self-image.
The video The Paradox of Being Taken Seriously by Bart Groenendaal was filmed during therapy sessions with traumatised refugees who have either been granted, or are awaiting, asylum in the Netherlands. Learning about Dutch culture is part of their supervised trauma recovery therapy. As the film unfolds, it gradually reveals the workings of a subtle power game between the Dutch therapists and their African patients and the emergence, with no evident provocation, of a growing uncertainty regarding the therapists’ unquestioning assumptions about certainties concerning their own country. The therapists are subtly compelled to look beyond national boundaries.
In the film Ancient Amateurs Stefan Ruitenbeek utilizes his artistic freedom to create art in the domain of porn. The work is set in the heart of the Dutch porn industry, which also financed the project. Ruitenbeek’s approach was to take the archetypal theme of birth and death as his starting point. Under Ruitenbeek’s direction, the actors and actresses then concentrated their efforts on bringing this unusual narrative to life on-screen. By doing so, the film allows us to see the context of the set where the actors, interested on-lookers, friends and acquaintances hang out, and the protagonists, including producer Kim Holland, are interviewed. There is no moral.
Saturday April 14th, 5 - 7 PM