The Unwanted Land, 2010 (India – the Netherlands)

The exhibition The Unwanted Land opened on October 22, 2010 till February 13, 2011 at Museum Beelden aan Zee in Den Haag, NL.

These installations utilize stagings, videos and performances to investigate emigration, immigration, integration and finally disintegration – the apparent loss of an appropriated umbrella Dutch identity. (The Unwanted Land) Dutchness as an identity, a construction formulated by non-indigenous Dutch elements, uses the VOC (Dutch East Indian Company) in India as a conceptual paradigm. Its undertakings and undoings are still visible today. (The Wanted Land)

The cultural exchange that occurred 350 years ago on the Malabar Coast between the colonisers and the colonised remains significant. During this early contact a former Dutch governor (Commodore Odatha a.k.a. Hendrik van Reede tot Drakenstein) collaborated with Ayurvedic (a traditional Indian system for holistic healing) doctors, assisted by botanists, translators and artisans to produce the Hortus Malabaricus, a 12-volume work printed in Amsterdam between 1678-1693 that illustrates around 700 medicinal plants and explains their workings.

The Unwanted Land: A Study into Unbecoming Dutch, Part I(werktitel): The integrated multi-media installation will consist of 4 spaces, which all relate to Dutchness, an identity construction formulated in this case by non-indigenous Dutch elements that uses the VOC (Dutch East Indian Company) and the WIC (West Indian Company) as a conceptual paradigm. These stagings invite the viewer to reflect on the construction of Dutchness and investigate emigration, immigration, integration, disintegration and the eventual apparent loss of an appropriated umbrella Dutch identity. The installations will visually and conceptually engage the public with various aspects and treatments I have undergone, as well as those of others. I wish to invite the viewer on a journey of participation that visually imparts a focus on the Dutch colonial past intertwined with my own contemporary immigration narrative, becoming reworked, reinscripted, reconstituted in the here and now.

Project together with artist Renée Ridgway.
Vrije Keyser: camera, script, editing, interviews

Thanks to: Simon Ferdinando, Thomas Punnen & family, Cibil John, Suresh Karipoottu, Hugo s’Jacob, Annamma Spudich, K.K.N. Kurup, Om Prakash, K.J. Krishnakumar, Christopher Edward Walton, Darshan Shankar, Jan-Frits Veldkamp, K J Sohan, James Hadlent Gunther, Joseph Donald D’Souza, Om Prakash, Monolita Chatterjee, Ivan Da Costa, Christopher Edward Walton, Anjana Singh, Louis Joachim Hendriks, Meghala, Babu, Rowan, The National Herbarium department of the NCB-Naturalis, Hortus Botanicus Leiden, Rishi’s Wellness, Foundation for Revitalisation of Local Health Traditions, Bangalore, Dutch Embassy New Delhi. See The Unwanted Land for more info.