Netherlands | 2019
Last year a public discussion about colonialism, slavery and heritage exploded in the Netherlands when the Mauritshuis removed a replica of Johan Maurits' bust from the foyer of the museum. A so-called Twitter-war was the pinnacle of this, with Dutch media, critics and even politicians interfering in the polarising debate. The Mauritshuis decided to continue the conversation with the exhibition Shifting Image - In Search of Johan Maurits. Studio Louter and OPERA Amsterdam were asked to create an exhibition concept and design that would allow visitors to discover multiple perspectives on this part of Dutch national history. Quite a challenging objective, since it is a very sensitive yet current topic in The Netherlands. The so-called Twitter-war that exploded in 2018 when the museum removed Johan Maurits’ bust, is transformed and brought into the museum space. It serves as a bold introduction. Twitter-quotes projected on a wall full of 3D copies of Maurits' bust depict the clash between the progressive and the conservatives about the removed statue: “Nothing must be left that reminds us of the slave-trading history. So let's keep silence on those times.” Twitter, (((saphire01))), 16-01-2018. The exhibited artworks from the famous Mauritshuis collection are provided with over 40 new object labels, written by not only art historians but by various critical thinkers from different personal and professional backgrounds. This polyphony and open approach was a unique and brave undertaking for the museum. A graphic timeline provides the visitor with an overview of information about Johan Maurits’ life and work. Also, an artistic installation of the ‘Sugar Palace’ highlights the nickname of the museum, which was presumably built with profits from the sugar plantations in BrazilFiction Factory. In this exhibition, visitors can watch, read, marvel, examine and actively contribute to in-depth research.
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