Tisna tells...

On April 28, 1949 Minister Lubbertus Götzen opens the exhibition Tentoonstelling Indonesië, Suriname, Nederlandse Antillen (Tisna) in the Van Abbemuseum. This is the seventeenth venue where Tisna attempts to demonstrate ‘kinship’ with the colonies at the initiative of Stichting TISNA, a foundation that was established by the national government. This attempt encounters great resistance from museum director Edy de Wilde. De Wilde’s objection against Tisna at the time was neither aimed at her ‘camouflaged’ political motives nor did De Wilde target her ethnographic staging, which attract attention at present. De Wilde was displeased because Tisna had been “a complete educational fiasco” and next to this her “colour and form arrangement was in very poor taste”.

In the frame of the research programme Deviant Practice I want to research what this unwanted appearance in the Van Abbemuseum, and elsewhere, can tell about the impact of public policy on a museum's exhibition and education practices and what about the storing away of a colonial exhibition history? To formulate answers to these questions I will approach Tisna, inspired by Alexander Kluge, as a wound in the exhibition history of The Netherlands, and the Van Abbemuseum in particular, around which a ring of narration can be constructed sourcing from a range of archives in which Tisna has left her traces. In other words, referencing Markus Miessen and Yann Chateigné, I think of Tisna’s legacy as a productive place of conflict from where new meanings, relationships and vital connections with the present can come into being.


Petra Ponte is a freelance curator, cultural producer and researcher based in Amsterdam. She holds a BA in Theatre Studies and an MA in Contemporary Art History from the University of Amsterdam. Her recent projects include: A Rap on Race Revisited (das weisse haus, 2016) prospects. a recital (Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, 2015), I|K (Schloss Ringenberg, 2015), FATFORM / FORWARD (2012-2014).