New interview with Renata Motta about “Rembrandt Today”
Rembrandt and his contemporaries were fascinated by the distant lands from which imported goods flowed into the Netherlands in the 17th century. Persian rugs, Chinese porcelain, and Japanese garments all found their way into their paintings. Today, however, we’re aware that the other side of this foreign encounter was not depicted: the imbalance of power between cultures that gave rise to slavery, violence, exploitation, and trade wars. Four hundred years later, even those aspects that were represented raise questions that go beyond the realm of art history. In the visual world of Dutch artists, the Orient remained a construct of props, stereotypes, and imagination. Foreign and exotic objects were valued and integrated into their lifestyle, but West and East did not meet on equal footing. The exhibition offers an opportunity to interrogate this attitude, which persists to this day in large portions of the Western world.
In a series of five conversations, five aspects of Eurocentrism are discussed. Each conversation takes a work of art from the exhibition as its point of departure for the exploration of questions that are still relevant today. With Stephanie Archangel, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; Tahir Della, Initiative for Black People in Germany; Renata Motta, Free University, Berlin; Anna von Rath, Postcolonial Potsdam; and Kadir Sancı, University of Potsdam.