Thuistezien 109 — 10.11.2020

M. Jansen & H. van Houwelingen

What if we would re-exhibit the Crimean gold, which was exhibited in the Allard Pierson museum in 2014, and appoint it as a monument for the MH17-victims? And not return it to its rightful owner before the MH17 perpetrators appear in court? Hans van Houwelingen argues that culture could be used as a more powerful tool than politics. What does the cultural sector actually stand for nowadays?

The project Encounters is a collaboration between Studium Generale Leiden University, the Art Theory & Practice (KABK), The Academy of Creative and Performing Arts (Leiden University), Paard van Troje and West Den Haag.
For the occasion, Andrea van Pol interviews artist Hans van Houwelingen, known for the bronze lizards on Leidseplein in Amsterdam, and Professor of Mesoamerican archeology Maarten Jansen about the role of artists and scientists in our current society. What kind of mechanisms from politics exist in the current cultural sector and how can an artist or scientist consciously deal with the position you occupy within your field? Do you operate independently, or within a system where certain interests are at stake? With a few musical in-termezzos by composer Juan Parra Cancino in between, the artist and archaeologist discuss the differences and parallels within their fields and how they relate to each other. Jansen's scientific research into the script of the Mixtecs, Indian people in Mexico, contributes to the cultural awareness of their heritage and the current position of the nation in society. Jansen is known for putting social interests first in his research: he involved many researchers with an Indian background, who had little opportunities to gain a foothold in their own country.

All of this seems to converge in the current debate about colonial looted art: the artworks crafted by former colonies have been obscured in a colonial past, and the process of returning these pieces to their heirs has started. Jansen mentions in this interview, among other things, how the self-esteem of a culture can be re-stored, that humans are the cause of the damage and therefore also hold the responsibility for improving the current socioeconomic position of indigenous people

(conversation: in Dutch)