In this exhibition three artists share their wartime family stories. Each artist communicates with another generation. Omar Imam presents a life-size sculpture of a gym ball he made for his daughter. Bright Nshuti immerses you in a 3D audio installation that tells the story of his mother. Steven van Lummel, together with his father, writes a letter to his grandfather in an audio-visual artwork. In the exhibition, old stories are stripped of their mystique, new family stories are created and personal family histories are discovered.
Every family cherishes its own stories. Exciting, funny, brave or sad anecdotes that are recounted and shared over and over again at birthday celebrations and other family gatherings. In this way the history of a family is made up of fact and fiction.
Family stories of wartime experience are less easy to share. Trauma, loss and grief often play an important role in them. People keep quiet about them, heroic anecdotes are magnified, and aspects are either omitted or distorted and passed on to the next generation. Who tells the war stories? How do they unfold? How are they passed on? How do they unravel?
Omar Imam (born in 1979 in Damascus, Syria)
Imam is a Syrian photographer and artist. In his work, he uses irony and a conceptual approach to respond to the violent situation in Syria. His work balances between mundane documents and totally unimaginable dreams. He deploys the life-size gym ball to recount the traumatic story of his torture at the start of the war in Syria. It is a story he does not easily share and would rather not burden his children with. His daughter plays an important role during the torture when she emerges in a vision looking like a manga comic he recalls from childhood.
My grandfather Guus who was called Willem
Steven van Lummel (born in 1981 in The Hague, Netherlands)
Van Lummel is a primeval artist. His drawings, full of sober, bare, symbol-like figures, are alternately reminiscent of cave drawings, graffiti and hieroglyphs. He searches for what connects artists all over the world: a deep-rooted desire to express oneself in highly personal images with universal expressiveness. For HISTORYTELLERS he delves into the story of his grandfather, who led a resistance team in The Hague during the Second World War. This history was hardly spoken of in the family. Van Lummel opens the archive together with his father and talks about the history of his grandfather, and what has not been discussed for the past 75 years.
Bright Nshuti (born in 1993 in Kiruri, Rwanda)
As a producer and event organizer, Nshuti focuses on sound to Nshuti in conveying his message. In this exhibition, he takes his first steps telling his family history. He records the first story, an ode to his mother and the role she played in securing his future. First by saving him from the imminent danger of genocide, later by leaving her homeland and starting a new life in the Netherlands. Nshuti tells the story in the form of an audio installation.