In This Colony/In Deze Kolonie

Kunstfort bij Vijfhuizen, 8 May - 26 June 2005

Co-curated by Maxine Kopsa and Sven Lütticken

Participating artists: Danai Anesiadou and Alexandra Bachzetsis, Sven Augustijnen, Maria Barnas and Germaine Kruip, Stan Douglas, Chris Evans, Andrea Fraser, Ryan Gander, Laura Horelli, Twan Janssen, Krijn de Koning, Gabriel Kuri, Sean Snyder, Roy Villevoye, and Barbara Visser.

The Kunstfort bij Vijfhuizen, near Amsterdam, is a former army barracks—an early concrete construction from the beginning of the twentieth century that had just been renovated.

Even while participating in the rampant transformation of non-art sites into spaces for artistic representation, In This Colony seeks to question such process of decontextualisation and abstraction, which turn history into decor.

2007 Postscript:

In June 2007, Barbara Visser's former assistant received an e-mail from a Mr Wilmink, working at the Cruquiusgemaal, a nineteenth-century pumping station which is now a historicial monument and museum. Visser's series of postcards De Groeten uit Vijfhuizen, which display alternative uses for the fort, and which were diplayed in card racks in the central hall during the run of the exhibition, contains a photomontage of a fictitious theme park, "Mini Haarlemmermeer", in which a small replica of the building is situated right in front of the Fort. The real De Cruquius is situated in the vicinity of the musuem; both buildings stand at the edge of the Haarlemmermeer, a former inland lake reclaimed in the nineteenth century through use of the Cruquiusgemaal and other pumping stations. Mr Wilmink complained that Museum De Cruquius had not been contacted in order to clear any copyright issues, before moving on to trying to bully Visser into donating cards to the museum:

Recentelijk viel mijn oog op een ansichtkaart, die een foto-montage toont van fort Vijfhuizen en De Cruquius. Op zich een goede zaak, dat Museum De Cruquius opduikt in het werk van een kunstenaar; maar anderzijds vind ik het wel jammer dat drukker of uitgever van de ansichtkaart nooit heeft geïnformeerd naar het gebruik van het beeldmerk van v.m. stoomgemaal De Cruquius. Uiteraard wil ik niet lastig doen, want in zekere zin is de kaart een promotiemiddel voor het museum. Wel stellen wij het op prijs, indien deze ansichtkaart tegen kostprijs ter beschikking gesteld zou kunnen worden aan onze museumwinkel. Indien u meer werk heeft waarop De Cruquius prijkt, hebben wij hier mogelijk ook belangstelling voor.
Well, Mr Wilmink, one would assume that in so far as there still is a public domain to speak of, this nineteenth-century structure falls well within it, and there is little to stop Barbara Visser from integrating a photo she took into this montage. As pathetic as this little incident is, it is nonetheless indicative of the increasing legal constrains imposed on artists in a culture in which the notion of "intellectual property" is given an ever more ridig and fundamentalist interpretation, usually in the interest of those who can retain the services of expensive legal teams.
Images: exhibition poster using a still from a video by Sven Augustijnen; Barbara Visser, Groeten uit Vijfhuizen (2005), one postcard from a set of five.