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<nettime> Fwd: not on TV tonight
Lennaart van Oldenborgh on Thu, 22 Oct 2009 15:20:33 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Fwd: not on TV tonight

dear all,

my sister sent the following around following the failure of the art 
press in the Netherlands to report on her contribution to the 
Istanbul Biennial, which poses questions about the legacy of the 
Dutch military intervention in Indonesia after WW II. It's remarkable 
how the Dutch colonial past still has the potential turn up like an 
unwelcome guest, embarrassing all of us into silence, reduced to 
staring into our drinks. Not that we're trying to avoid the subject 
of course...


>Dear friends and colleagues,
>My work Instruction, an installation of a 30 minute projection, two 
>large digital photographic prints and booklet with the script and 
>its sources, is still on view in the International Istanbul Biennial 
>until the 8th of November.
>The film of Instruction casts a group of young cadets from the 
>Netherlands Defense Academy reading out and discussing an archival 
>script - constructed from personal travelogues, broadcast 
>transcripts or essays. It questions the position of an individual in 
>a larger political framework and in a different political and social 
>environment, in a condition where the individual is malleable and 
>even vulnerable, but still under the challenge of ethical 
>responsibility. The film thus performs an instructive function but 
>maintains a certain ambiguity that leaves open questions for a 
>public discussion yet to come.
>Tonight, the 21st of October, the VPRO will broadcast their program 
>Trendspotting, featuring the Biennial in Istanbul. For this program 
>they have interviewed me in the installation and prepared a fragment 
>of my film for insertion. However, they have kindly let me know that 
>they have decided not to use this material and there is no more 
>mention of my contribution to the Biennial exhibition in the program.
>Without considering all the reasons for this decision to happen it 
>is worth reflecting on it in connection to one of the layers of the 
>work itself, which taps into the unresolved episode of the Dutch 
>military intervention in Indonesia after the end of WW II, and 
>especially the silence which surrounds this episode in the public 
>debate in the Netherlands. The silence that is the result of all 
>sorts of practical decisions, is something that keeps resurfacing 
>around difficult issues from Dutch history. Information is never 
>officially censored or repressed, but somehow it does not come to 
>the surface for serious consideration in connection to the present. 
>In this 2009 edition of the Istanbul Biennial there are many 
>examples of works that offer critical and poetic possibilities to 
>discuss similar issues from various local situations around the 
>world. Instruction takes up an very natural place within this 
>exhibition, and it is therefore all the more remarkable that the 
>VPRO decided that it was after all more interesting to focus on the 
>artistic positions from the Middle East and that it thereby did not 
>allow a space anymore to compare this with a local example, coming 
>from the Netherlands itself.
>In a similar way, the weekly magazine Vrij Nederland removed a 
>passage that had already been written on my contribution from a page 
>filling article on the Istanbul Biennial. By an editorial decision, 
>based on the lack of space, the passage was lost from the article, 
>which came out at the beginning of October. Coincidently thereby 
>taking the possible introduction of the work Instruction and its 
>themes away from the public view. A double page spread on the 
>Biennial in Het Financieele Dagblad's weekly magazine does not 
>mention any Dutch contribution to the exhibition at all.
>My own interest in the subject of what society itself actually does 
>with its knowledge is triggered again by the recurrence of these 
>With best greetings,


Lennaart van Oldenborgh
lenny {AT} desk.nl

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