Victor Sonna - 1525

Foto: Ronald Smits
Foto: Ronald Smits
Foto: Ronald Smits
Foto: Ronald Smits
exhibition

Victor Sonna 1525

18/07/2020 - 30/05/2021
Curator: Steven ten Thije
Guest Curator: Hannah Vollam (assistant conservator)
Artist: Victor Sonna

The first solo exhibition of Eindhoven-based artist Victor Sonna will open at the Van Abbemuseum on 18th July 2020. The exhibition is entitled 1525.

In 2015 in New Orleans, Victor purchased the chains of an enslaved person. The number 152 was engraved on the chains. This purchase marked the start of a personal journey of discovery through Ghana and Suriname, among others. The result is an exhibition featuring one hundred and fifty two unique pieces of art - the series 152 - six films and fifty two prints in which Victor treats the subject of slavery in his own unique way. The exhibition title is a play on the number 152. A single five is added: one of the first transatlantic transports of enslaved people took place in 1525.   

“I don’t work off a pre-determined plan. I didn’t foresee that a purchase would lead to this journey. This is usually how it goes with me; one thing leads to another. I dive in and go with it.” – Victor Sonna

BLEACH AND CLOTH, SUGAR AND RUBBER & MAPS

For his series 152, Victor Sonna collected 152 European Gobelin tapestries created between the 18th and 20th centuries. He incorporates these in three series, entitled Bleach and cloth, Sugar and rubber and Maps, by combining them with Kente fabrics (traditional woven cloth from Ghana), African sculptures and slavery-related objects that he collected on his travels through the Netherlands, Ghana and Suriname. 

PRINTS

These two-sided pieces are displayed alongside the series Prints: fifty-two screenprints of historical images of slavery and six films that explore the theme of the series 152 in a poetic and at times, surrealistic way.

TOWER OF BABEL

In a spectacular 25-metre high installation, the artworks are for the most part displayed in such a way that enables visitors to view them from both sides. As Victor Sonna himself says: “There is always more than one side to a story.” The design behind the scaffolding in the museum tower is a reference to the Tower of Babel: the origin myth about the scattering of humanity into different peoples.

ABOUT Victor Sonna

Victor Sonna (1977) was born in Yaoundé, Cameroon, and moved to the Netherlands at a young age. He studied at the Design Academy in Eindhoven before transferring to AKV|St. Joost in Den Bosch. He trained as a visual artist. He has lived in Eindhoven throughout his time in the Netherlands. Victor Sonna frequently utilises existing material in his work, transforming it into dramatic works of art. His work can be found in collections across the world and is exhibited internationally.

PUBLIC PROGRAMMING 

The exhibition is being accompanied by a comprehensive programme of public events. Who are we? Traces of a colonial past in Brabant. Developed in association with Vivian Heyms, Silvan Vasilda and a network of Brabantians who (personally) relate to the colonial history. The programme invites participants and visitors to reflect on the role that complex histories such as the slave trade and colonialism play in our lives. These reflections are available to see at the museum from October 2020.

The DIY tour enables visitors to make connections between the exhibition and the pieces of art contained in the museum collection. A special schools programme for secondary school pupils has been developed in collaboration with the history department at Van Maerlantlyceum in Eindhoven.


NATIONWIDE COLLABORATION: MUSEA BEKENNEN KLEUR

Musea Bekennen Kleur explores issues around inclusion and diversity within the museum sector. The partnership addresses inclusion within museum organisations in the form of museum discussions, public activities and a nationwide curriculum, including a G8-Top (Group 8 Top) in the spring of 2021. Participating museums include: Amsterdam Museum, Bonnefanten Museum, Centraal Museum, Dordrechts Museum, Frans Hals Museum, Museum Arnhem, Museum Het Rembrandthuis, Nationaal Museum voor Wereldculturen, Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum, Van Abbemuseum, Van Gogh Museum and the Zeeuws Museum. Musea Bekennen Kleur is sponsored by the Mondriaan Fonds.

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