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Intervention # 16 - Lonnie van Brummelen & Siebren de Haan
The Embed and the Shadow of the Horse
18 December 2010 – 13 February 2011
The artistic duo Lonnie van Brummelen & Siebren de Haan are exhibiting two new works in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. The exhibition title ‘The Embed and the Shadow of the Horse’ links a sixteenth-century foreign intervention in Tunis to other military operations, including the current action in Afghanistan.
In The Embed and the Shadow of the Horse, Van Brummelen & De Haan investigate representations of historical and present-day interventions. Using a two-part 16mm film of sixteenth-century tapestries and the cartoons for them, some historical prints from the collections in the museum and the Royal Library, and a 16mm film based on current newspaper reports, the artists examine how the image of the ’other side’ is constructed, reproduced and distributed.
Creating the image
Images have been used as weapons as far back as the Dutch Revolt against the Spanish in the sixteenth century. Drawings of Spanish atrocities were widely distributed with the aid of new printing techniques. The prints contributed to the creation of a negative image of the Spanish—‘The Black Legend’—and this led to worldwide Hispanophobia. During the NATO mission in Afghanistan, extensive 'embedding' programmes were launched: reporters of all kinds can apply to spend time with the troops. This assures the armed forces of daily news coverage of ‘our boys and girls’. But the ‘other side’, the Afghans, the Taliban or their sympathizers, go almost unheard, and if they are reported at all the image remains superficial. Who are these people ‘our’ troops are fighting or claiming to liberate?
Reversal, looking and comparing
In the two-part film Subi dura a rudibus, shots of tapestries and mirror-image cartoons (tapestry patterns) depicting the conquest of Tunis by Charles V are projected side by side. Before the term existed, the Dutch painter Jan Cornelisz Vermeijen was ‘embedded’ with Charles’s troops and made on-the-spot sketches of the battle between the European troops and a combined army of Turks, Arabs and Berbers. A weaver then translated the sketches into a set of tapestries. The weaver’s interpretation created differences between the cartoons and the tapestries. Colours and shapes were adjusted—and figures were removed, too. Was there censorship here? Like the two-part film, the title Subi dura a rudibus, a Latin palindrome, which means something like ‘I’m being roughly treated by savages’, can be read both ways. This and other substantive and visual reversals mean that we are left guessing who is friend and who is foe.
This game of reversing, looking and comparing is brought up to date in the 16mm film ‘Friends, Foes and Hybrids’ which reflects the position of the ‘embed’ in the current intervention in Afghanistan and the walk-on part allotted to the other side.
Lonnie van Brummelen & Siebren de Haan
Lonnie van Brummelen (Soest, 1969) and Siebren de Haan (Dordrecht, 1966) have been working together since 2004. Their work can be found in various collections, including those of the MoMA in New York, the Hoffmann Sammlung in Berlin and the Julia Stoschek Collection in Düsseldorf. Their work could be recently seen in The Cooper Union (New York), the Project Art Centre (Dublin), the Palais de Tokyo (Paris) and at the Shanghai and Gwangju Biennales They are represented by Galerie Wilfried Lentz. A limited edition book is being published to coincide with the exhibition and is on sale in the museum shop. This intervention, put together by the Curator of the City Collection, is part of a series of presentations in which contemporary artists reflect on the collection or the museum.
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