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☰ Edwin Stolk

The Wardship
of Others

This concept entitled 'The Wardship of Others' is currently being developed for 'Tegenbeeld' (= counter-image) a project by Kunstenlab in Deventer.

All over the world, people are searching for new ways to deal with charged statues. In Deventer, the monument of president Steyn has once again been discredited. Kunstenlab invited artists to make an idea sketch for a counter-image. A committee has selected three proposals from 60 submissions. My proposal is one of the three concepts that is now being further elaborated.

This static stone monument of Steyn placed in 1922 on behalf of "the Dutch people who feel related to the Afrikaners", was in my view a confirmation of power relations. The Dutch people are presented as a static and unchangeable "object" in time. This includes the appreciation for Steyn's actions. Today, with 'The Wardship of Others', I want to honour the 'invisible other' by making use of traditional sculpture. I think it is important that we rethink the meaning of art in public spaces.

As a counter-image I want to place a bust of the Khoikhoi woman Krotoa close to the statue of Steyn. Krotoa mediated between the predominant Dutch other, who without permission set foot on the land of the oppressed Khoikhoi people to which she belonged. When she was 10 to 11 years old she was taken by the Dutchman Jan van Riebeeck who arrived in 1652 with his VOC ship at the Cape of Good Hope.

Krotoa became the servant of his wife, Maria de la Quellerie. Krotoa learned the Dutch and Portuguese language when she was with them and in 1662 she was the first Khoikhoi to convert to the Dutch Reformed Church with the baptismal name Eva. During the conflicts between the Dutch and the Khoikhoi she had the difficult job of being a diplomat.

On June 2, 1664, she married the Danish surgeon Peter Havgard, who took the Dutch name Pieter van Meerhof. Van Meerhof was killed in a battle during a (slave) expedition to Madagascar. After this, Eva became addicted to alcohol and turned to prostitution. This made her lose the respect of the colonists. She tried to flee but was captured by the Dutch and imprisoned on Robben Island in March 1669, where she died five years later.

As a counter-image I want to centralize the 'invisible other' - starting with Krotoa. It took untill 2016 before she was given a monument in South Africa. Her story is overall missing in the Netherlands. I propose to place her portrait, made from river clay, near the unchanging stone monument of Steyn. This choice of materials serves the question of how our history is formed, told and depicted.

Because the viewer is able to press his or her fingers into the wet clay, Krotoa's image points to everyone's responsibility in this process.

'The Wardship of Others' opens doors to new forms of (temporary) worship and / or public meaning by art interventions.

From May 29 to June 20, the detailed sketch proposals of Lawil Kamara, Jeroen Diepenmaat and Edwin Stolk will be presented in the library of Deventer.

Artists Jeroen Diepenmaat, Lawil Karama and Edwin Stolk discussed their proposals on 11 March, a conversation led by Mieke Conijn (director of the Kunstenlab). Here you can find the video (in Dutch): 'Tegenbeeld Gesprek'.

When 'The Wardship of Others' is selected it needs your help. Interested? Send an email to: info [at] edwinstolk.nl

'The Wardship of Others' came to the attention of: Deventer Post

'The Wardship of Others' follows the concept behind #theorganisation in which we try to make knowledge and resources available for alternative perspectives in the service of society as a whole. Tips or suggestions? info [at] edwinstolk.nl

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Best regards, Edwin Stolk.