Artist Statement


Brian Elstak

Brian Elstak (1980) is a visual artist, illustrator, painter, writer and exhibit designer. His works include the children’s books ‘Tori’ and ‘Trobi’, album covers and music videos, and the exhibit ‘Zwart in Rembrandts Tijd’ (Black in Rembrandt’s Time, 2020). The Tropenmuseum and KIT invited Elstak to respond to the building’s colonial past. Elstak says:

‘My feelings about this project are mixed. I think the stories that the Tropenmuseum tells with its exhibitions these days are important, but at the same time I could not start this project without reservations. The building is dripping with white supremacy. “We’ll take whatever we want”, that is, in a nutshell, the unjustly praised VOC-mentality. How the Dutch acted in Indonesia was wrong. It wasn’t trade; trade means that all parties involved benefit. However, the people there paid a high price, they paid with their lives. This realization is something I rarely see in people, if I see it at all. With my illustrations I hope to place the spotlight on just some of these countless atrocities. In my opinion, this side of history is still underexposed, even within this publication.’