About the part that art plays in a globalising society

Framer Framed

24 Sep 2012 – 13:30

Symposium: Suspended Histories

Framer Framed and Museum Van Loon cordially invite you to attend the symposium Suspended Histories which discusses the colonial past of the Van Loon family, and ways in which that past is presented and represented in Museum Van Loon. This symposium presents a historical and theoretical framework for the extensive and ongoing project, Suspended Histories, which will be presented in Museum Van Loon from September 2012 to January 2014.

Museum Van Loon
Staff of the museum (which was the former residence of the noble regent family Van Loon) are often confronted with questions from visitors about the history of the family. The origins of the wealth of the Van Loon family are from international trade. The family was closely involved in the founding of the Dutch East India Company, and was instrumental in the growing market for maritime insurance. The extraordinary Dutch spirit of trade and entrepreneurship, was, as former prime minister Balkenende described, as a ‘VOC-mentality’. This was in truth a controversial turn of phrase, as it disregarded its negative connotations. Colonialism and slavery are inextricably linked with the Dutch East India Company, and therefore, the Van Loon family are connected, with a contemporary discussion on these dark pages of Dutch history. The two Moors in the coat of arms of the Van Loon family, were added in the sixteenth century as symbols of its involvement in the spice trade.

The Van Loon family wishes to dialogue with the public on this aspect of its history. Philippa van Loon, the youngest heiress of the family, initiated the project Suspended Histories, which will comprise an exhibition of contemporary art in the Autumn of 2013. Prior to this exhibition, the public is invited to be involved in the further development of this project on 24 September 2012.

The symposium will begin with an introduction by Philippa Van Loon where she will present her family history, as well as her motivations for initiating Suspended Histories. Thereafter, guest curator Thomas Berghuis will discuss the subject from theoretical and art history perspectives, with several scholars and art historians. Central to this discussion will be from which perspectives the Museum Van Loon provide itself as a museum, and how its collection and history can be represented. The findings from this symposium will be used as a sounding board for the curatorial strategies that will be employed for the exhibition. In this symposium, there will be ample opportunity for public discussion, and furthermore, in the lead up to the exhibition, a range of public events such as lectures and film screenings will further the dialogue on the subject.

Suspended Histories, ‘deferred histories’, regards the past as an ongoing dialogue between the past and the present. History is never complete, and is continuously revised or ‘deferred’. Contemporary discourse determines how we think about the past, and history is in short, ‘suspended’, in the reflections on the past in the contemporary. This incomplete and continually developing history is the starting point for this project.

The exhibition, Suspended Histories, will commission contemporary artists who are from the regions of the former colonies of the Dutch East India Company to reflect on the relationship between Museum Van Loon and the family history as a starting point. The artists will undertake research in the museum’s collection and its historical context, in order to provide an interpretation of the theme from their personal perspectives.

Philippa van Loon
Artist and curator. Grew up at Keizersgracht 672 in Amsterdam, the historical house that, in 1973, was open to the public

Thomas Berghuis
Lecturer, Asian Art, Faculty of Art History and Film Studies, University of Sydney

Remco Raben
Writer and Lecturer, Non-Western History, University of Utrecht

Edy Seriese
Director, Indonesian Academic Institute

Binna Choi
Director, CASCO – Office for Art, Design and Theory


Indonesia / Shared Heritage / Colonial history /


Goenawan Mohamad

Writer, poet, activist

Binna Choi


Philippa van Loon

Curator, artist

Remco Raben


Edy Seriese

Director Indian Scientific Institute (IWI)

Thomas Berghuis

Curator, Author

Mella Jaarsma

Curator, Artist