Eelco Runia lecture and Van Brummelen & De Haan book launch

Thursday, 22 October, starting 8:00 p.m.

In cooperation with Valiz Publishers, Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam is helping launch the book Redrawing the Boundaries by Lonnie van Brummelen & Siebren de Haan. In association with the book launch the historian Eelco Runia has been invited to lecture on the concept of ‘Presence’. After that there will be a screening of the film Monument of Sugar by Van Brummelen & De Haan. The artist pair will provide a brief introduction to the film.

Eelco Runia and ‘Presence’

Seeing things that there are is the most difficult task we have; it is much easier to see things that are not there. Perhaps that is why historians have the inclination to seek the past in what no longer exists, in a bygone time. Sometimes they succeed in giving the past that they dig up there a place in the present – and their strategy in doing this is to try to make a meaningful story of the past. In his lecture Runia will propose that the real art is to see the past in the present. The manifestation of the past in the present is termed ‘presence’; perhaps the Dutch word ‘tegenwoordigheid’, or 'presentness', indicates even better what is involved in this than does the English original. Runia argues that realising and experiencing this ‘presentness’ is as least as fundamental as the creation of meaning.

Eelco Runia is a psychologist and historian, presently working at the Centre for Metahistory at the University of Groningen. Among his books are Waterloo Verdun Auschwitz, De liquidatie van het verleden (1999), on the commemoration and processing of traumatic experiences, Inkomend Vuur (2003), a novel about the Dutch mission to Srebrenica, and Breukvlak (2008), an ‘archaeological' experiment dedicated to the question of how you must 'bury' reality in a text in order to keep it alive. In addition he is working on a long-term research project, Committing History. This research led to a symposium on ‘Presence’, among other results. For more information, click here Note: The lecture is in Dutch.

Monument of Sugar

The 16mm film 'Monument of Sugar' is a part of the installation with this title, which – like other projects by Van Brummelen & De Haan – operates along the fault line between social-political questions and aesthetics. The physical sugar monument was already to be seen in an earlier arrangement in the exhibition Just in Time in the Stedelijk Museum (2007). The film is the outcome of research into the export of subsidised European sugar to Nigeria. Importation of sugar into Europe is however subject to import duties. To get around this barrier the artists imported Nigerian sugar labelled as a ‘monument’. The film ‘Monument of Sugar’ is a documentation of the research that the artists did into the international sugar trade and the problems that they encountered in the production of their sugar monument in Lagos. In it text images alternate with long, monumental takes of the unseen production landscapes of the world trade in sugar, such as beet fields, sugar refineries, ports and artist's ateliers.

Van Brummelen & De Haan

As visual artists and filmmakers, in their essays and film installations Lonnie van Brummelen (Soest, NL, 1969) and Siebren de Haan (Dordrecht, NL, 1966) investigate timely subjects such as the increasing privatisation of the public domain, the hardening of European immigration policies, and the dislocations which accompany these developments. They sketch out individual strategies whereby such obstructions and barriers can be circumvented. At the same time the works sound out the place and significance of art within such disruptive contexts. Their practice moves between the realms of politics, culture and the aesthetic space of the artwork. Exploring the boundaries and strategically crossing over from one of these realms to another form the core of their activity as they do this. It was with similar work that Van Brummelen won the 2005 Prix de Rome.

Over the past years work by Van Brummelen & De Haan has been seen in various museums here and abroad, including at the Shanghai Biennale, Robert Flaherty Seminar, Project Arts Centre in Dublin and the Kunsthaus Zürich. This last summer their recent work, Monument to Another Man’s Fatherland, was a prominent part of the exhibition ‘One’s History is Another’s Misery’ in Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam.

‘Redrawing the Boundaries’

This last work and other projects are the core of the recently published book Redrawing the Boundaries. The book was assembled, and is introduced by Mariska van den Berg, and in addition includes contributions by Christophe Gallois (Mudam, Luxembourg); Tessa Giblin (Project Arts Centre, Dublin) and Andréa Picard (Cinematheque Ontario/Toronto International Film Festival).

Editing: Mariska van den Berg, Lonnie van Brummelen, Siebren de Haan

Design: Louis Lüthi; 192 pages, 24 x 17 cm, sewn paperback, Dutch/English, February, 2009

Supported by: Fonds BKVB, Mondriaan Foundation, Harten Fonds, Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst

ISBN 978-90-78088-26-4, NUR 646, 740, € 25,00


Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam

Rozenstraat 59

1016 NN Amsterdam


Date of presentation: Thursday, 22 October

Begins: 8:00 p.m.

Admission is free, but a reservation a recommended. Mail to: