This program focuses on the visual and material culture of Dutch colonialism in the early modern period, especially in relation to the Atlantic world. It takes as starting point the works of Dutch artists such as Frans Post (1612-1680), Albert Eckhout (1607-c.1666) and Dirk Valkenburg (1675-1721), whose oeuvres represent some of the earliest moments of Dutch colonial encounter in the Atlantic world and offer a range of visual tropes about life under Dutch colonialism.
The academic workshop explores the imperial context that created the conditions within which the artists worked, which has remained understudied. An interdisciplinary group of art historians, anthropologists and economic historians will read their works thinking through the expansive, exploitative and racializing aspects of the colonial project. We ask questions such as: what yield might be gained by a rereading of the still lifes of Valkenburg and Eckhout within a framework of bioprospecting, or questions surrounding race, or a history of knowledge and power? What might Eckhout’s portraits tell us about the quotidian lives of colonised and enslaved peoples?
The program is a collaboration between the Research Center for Material Culture (RCMC), Society of Arts of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), and the Members Association of the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV).