Where is my home
Ineke Bakker » Radina Dankova » Ulric Roldanus » Ron Sluik » Alite Thijsen »
Exhibition: – 30 Oct 2004
771 00 Olomouc
This first line of the Czech national anthem describes perfectly the discourse of the artists participating in this exhibition. To be able to understand their quest, this personal Odyssey, better we have to take a closer look at the background from which it derives. The Netherlands is, geographically, a small country. It consists of a delta that has been formed by the streams of the rivers Rijn and Maas. Its inhabitants may sometimes feel limited, both physically and emotionally, by the size. Perhaps this caused the strong urge to explore in Dutch culture. The urge might also be due to the closeness of water. The sea gave the Dutch access to the wide world and the rivers formed a link between ports and hinterland. Trade and exploration became important elements in Dutch culture. Trade and colonisation (the dark side of it) brought prosperity to the Netherlands. And trade will flourish even more if a country shows a relative amount of openness and tolerance for people travelling through or settling. I think this character feature resulted in the end in a desire to be open-minded and to seek out and absorb foreign input. Nowadays these qualities seem to represent something that is often considered typically Dutch. It might, therefore, be seen as a characteristic inherent to the Dutch. When the Netherlands started to lose their colonies, and its importance as one of the world powers, it maintained a certain political influence worldwide, through its ability to bridge between other countries and by developing new, more tolerant, laws. These laws have also later been copied in other places. These characteristics are among the most important differences between the Netherlands, the country where the artists derive, and the country where the exhibition is held, the Czech Republic. The latter is located far from the sea and has its roots in Central/Eastern European history. Furthermore, the Czech Republic was, for long periods of time, overpowered by other countries, which resulted in great suppression of Czech cultural identity. This means that there the foreign did not have a face of an equal partner, but merely of an oppressor. When Mirek Schubert invited me, to curate an exhibition, I thought it would be interesting to show Dutch artists whose works reflect the Dutch situation described above. Perhaps, most of all, I wanted to do this out of my own personal experience; as a young boy, I grew up in Cameroon and the alien feeling is, therefore, quite familiar to me. Some of the other artists some of them travelled a long way. Alite Thijssen makes journeys to Western Africa, where she takes part in projects with local artists, at least twice a year. Ron Sluik is always on tour in Eastern Europe, if not residing in Moldova, where he is curating exhibitions for an art institute. Others returned to the surroundings of their youth. Ineke Bakker focuses on the differences between her life in the capital of the Netherlands and the rural society of her childhood where life does not seem to alter much. Radina Dankova comes from Bulgaria. That country might slightly compare its history with the Czech Republic. Like the Czech Republic, it was under influence of stronger foreign powers for long periods of time. Now Dankova lives in The Hague, and adds a new face to the constantly changing cultural image of the Netherlands. In their artistic career, all participating artists have to deal with the fact that there are places towards which they have developed very strong emotional affections. The works presented at the exhibition will show some of the context of these specific places that have become very important in the lives of the participating artists.