Recycling Colonial Cultural Heritage: Superflex’ Porcelain Pirates

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Danish art collective Superflex’ project Porcelain Pirates for the Zeeuws Museum in Middelburg, the Netherlands, is a fascinating and complex example of how a museum collection of artefacts from a colonial past may gain critical new meaning by means of cultural production and curatorial strategy. By means of a museum installation (Porcelain Pirates, Zeeuws Museum, 2009) and a popular TV-series (Porcelain, Propellerhead, 2010) produced in Vietnam by a Vietnamese production company, Superflex seeks to explore and question a complex piece of colonial history with an important Asian-European as well as a nationally Dutch and regionally Zeelandish dimension.

The installation and the television series is based on peculiar historical construction based on the Zeeuws Museem’s collection of porcelain: The Dutch capture of the Portuguese vessel San Jago which set sail from Goa bound for Lisbon in 1601 with one of the first consignment of South East Asian porcelain
destined for the European market. San Jago’s cargo of porcelain was realized economically by a big auction in the Netherlands. According to the Museum and it’s installation, the “importance of this auction was unprecedented and it provided enormous economic stimulus in the entire region and also provided diplomatic gifts that were used to cement the Dutch war of independence against Spain.”

Authentic artefacts from San Jago were used as props in the TV-series produced in Vietnam and were subsequently included as artefacts in the installation. This paper provides an analysis of Superflex’ project with special reference to the cultural recycling of artefacts tied up with a sensitive colonial context. The analysis focuses especially on the role of the artefact and the way the project contributes to and challenges regional and national postcolonial identity
(Zeeland, Netherlands, Vietnam). The paper will finally discuss its findings with reference to Superflex’ general profile as artists.
Translated title of the contributionRecyckling af kolonial kolturarv: Superflex' Porcelain Pirates
Original languageEnglish
Publication date30 Nov 2017
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2017
EventUnfinished Histories: Art, Memory and the Visual Politics of Coloniality - University of Copenhagen/The Royal Danish Library, Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 30 Nov 20171 Dec 2017


ConferenceUnfinished Histories
LocationUniversity of Copenhagen/The Royal Danish Library
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