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☰ Edwin Stolk

The Wardship
of Others

The concept entitled 'The Wardship of Others' is currently 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 with an open call to make an idea sketch for a counter-image. A selection committee has selected three proposals from 60 submissions. My proposal is one of the three concepts that is now being further elaborated.

This static 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 here also as a static and unchanging "object" in time. This includes the appreciation for Steyn's actions. Today, with 'The Wardship of Others', I want to honour the 'powerless other' by making use of traditional sculpture. I think it is important that we rethink art in public spaces and its role and meaning for the general public.

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 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 an expedition to Madagascar. After this, Eva became addicted to alcohol and turned to prostitution. This made her lose the respect the colonists had for her. 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 use the power of imagination to honour the 'powerless other' - starting with Krotoa. I propose to place her bust near the monument of Steyn where it will irrevocably change the context of this monument. I want to make this bust from clay from the river the IJssel. Clay has been for centuries the fundament for Deventer. By keeping the clay of the statue wet, this statue can change, unlike the image of president Steyn. If we decide together, we will then annually organize at this spot an honouring ceremony for an invisible mediator from Deventer.

Are you curious about all the "Tegenbeeld" idea sketches? They are on view from 6 to 23 March, banners are placed near the statue of President Steyn.

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.