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22 June 2023

From 24 June at Kunsthal Rotterdam: Recognition Rebuild

The exhibition Recognition Rebuild: Wunderkammers of Rotterdam’s Colonial Past opened at Kunsthal Rotterdam on Saturday 24 June 2023. This immersive installation, created by artist and guest curator patricia kaersenhout, turns the dubious phenomenon of the ‘wunderkammer’ on its head. It interrogates the colonial past of Rotterdam’s art and heritage collections, presenting white culture as ‘curiosity’. The exhibition has been created in close partnership with Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen.

‘Wunderkammers’ or ‘cabinets of curiosities’ were the 16th-century forerunners of today’s museums. They were rooms in which wealthy people displayed their so-called ‘acquisitions’: artworks and natural or cultural artefacts from the colonies, many of them stolen from their country of origin. In Recognition Rebuild, kaersenhout sets her sights on the object’s destination: what uneasy history lies behind it? By creating a dialogue between objects from Rotterdam’s museums, including many works from the collection of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, and new works by five contemporary artists, a new story emerges. Together with designer Rosa te Velde, kaersenhout presents a labyrinth in which five themes are explored in five new ‘wunderkammers’: Denial, Guilt, Shame, Recognition and Reconciliation.

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen’s curator Alexandra van Dongen was involved in the exhibition’s concept development, curation and presentation. Those of you who miss the museum’s collection will have a chance to see many pieces in the Kunsthal this summer, including works by Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, Sarah Lucas, Atelier Van Lieshout as well as Bas Jan Ader’s I’m Too Sad to Tell You and Rob Scholte’s ever-provocative Utopia.

Recognition Rebuild can be seen from 24 June to 29 October 2023 at Kunsthal Rotterdam, Museumpark, Westzeedijk 341, 3015 AA, Rotterdam.

Image in the header: Bartholomeus van der Helst, Portrait of Daniel Bernard, 1669, collection of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. Photo by Bob Goedewaagen. Daniel Bernard (1626-1714) was a merchant, a ship owner, a member of Amsterdam’s city council and, in 1689, director of the Sociëteit van Suriname (Society of Surinam).