Art, Architecture and Visual Culture

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Lights, camera and … ‘Ethical’ rule!

The personal association between Queen Wilhelmina and the Ethical Policy, a doctrine of liberal reform that she announced early in her reign (in 1901), is examined in this chapter for how it manifested in royal celebrations. At the start of her reign, lanterns and gaslights at royal pageants marked a continuation of centuries-old festival practices in both the East Indies and the Netherlands. However, the electrification of the Indies proceeded apace under Wilhelmina’s rule. This chapter uses published commemorative books, photographs taken by colonial officials who orchestrated festivals, and amateur private photographs to show how the electrification of the Indies was photographed on annual Queen’s Day celebrations and at other milestones of Wilhelmina’s reign. The spectacular uses of night photography in particular gave colonial photographers an opportunity to show how ‘modern’ the East Indies was, more so even than the Netherlands, and thus to celebrate the ‘progress’ made under the Ethical Policy. Photography articulated a complex association between modernisation, benevolent Dutch colonialism and the monarchy in ways that refused the peripheral status of the Indies relative to the metropole.

in Photographic subjects
The Dutch colonial world during Queen Wilhelmina’s reign, 1898–1948

This chapter introduces Queen Wilhelmina, a monarch who never toured her colonies, yet was better known and celebrated there than any of her predecessors and thus represents perhaps the only truly imperial monarch in Dutch history. It examines the development of mass photography in the Netherlands East Indies (colonial Indonesia) during Wilhelmina’s reign (1898–1948). It was photography above all other media that ‘globalised’ the Dutch monarchy for colonial subjects in a way that enabled a wide range of her subjects, from Indigenous royals to ordinary people, to creatively respond to and interact with this important imperial institution.

in Photographic subjects
Monarchy and visual culture in colonial Indonesia

Photographic subjects examines photography at royal celebrations during the reigns of Wilhelmina (1898–1948) and Juliana (1948–80), a period spanning the zenith and fall of Dutch rule in Indonesia. It is the first monograph in English on the Dutch monarchy and the Netherlands’ modern empire in the age of mass and amateur photography.

This book reveals how Europeans and Indigenous people used photographs taken at Queen’s Day celebrations to indicate the ritual uses of portraits of Wilhelmina and Juliana in the colonies. Such photographs were also objects of exchange across imperial networks. Photograph albums were sent as gifts by Indigenous royals in ‘snapshot diplomacy’ with the Dutch monarchy. Ordinary Indonesians sent photographs to Dutch royals in a bid for recognition and subjecthood. Professional and amateur photographers associated the Dutch queens with colonial modernity and with modes of governing difference across an empire of discontiguous territory and ethnically diverse people. The gendered and racial dimensions of Wilhelmina’s and Juliana’s engagement with their subjects emerge uniquely in photographs, which show these two women as female kings who related to their Dutch and Indigenous subjects in different visual registers.

Photographic subjects advances methods in the use of photographs for social and cultural history, reveals the entanglement of Dutch and Indonesian histories in the twentieth century, and provides a new interpretation of Wilhelmina and Juliana as imperial monarchs. The book is essential for scholars and students of colonial history, South-east Asian and Indonesian studies, and photography and visual studies.

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Photographic encounters between Dutch and Indonesian royals

This chapter examines diplomatic relations between the Dutch monarchy and the rulers of Central Java’s so-called ‘Princely States’ which had, since the 1830s, effectively been vassals to the Dutch crown. Just as Queen Wilhelmina never toured her colonies, Central Java’s royals avoided travelling to the Dutch court, and instead used photographs to negotiate their representations to the Dutch monarchy. Pakubuwono X, Hamengku Buwono VIII and Pakualam VII sent luxurious photograph albums featuring themselves and/or their courts as gifts to Queen Wilhelmina and Crown Princess Juliana to mark royal milestones. This chapter reveals how these Javanese kings and princes exerted the power of refusal in not meeting Dutch monarchs in person, instead using photographs to present themselves as modern, innovative rulers with formidable dynasties and impressive courts.

in Photographic subjects
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Exquisite corpses

In the final chapter the ambivalence of Dada’s bodies, as both ‘corpse’ and ‘exquisite’, is reasserted, in images of the body degraded and dissolved, or reconfigured and regenerated. Finally, Dada’s heritage is considered in developments in contemporary art, focusing in particular on critical or playful reappropriations of corporeal images which the Dadaists themselves had already transformed, in the work of Damien Hirst, Anna Artaker or Sadie Murdoch.

in Dada bodies
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Between battlefield and fairground

Dada bodies focuses critical attention on Dada’s limit-forms of the human image from an international and interdisciplinary perspective, in its different centres (Zurich, Berlin, Cologne, Hanover, Paris and New York) and diverse media (art, literature, performance, photography and film). Iconoclastic or grotesque, a montage of disparate elements or reduced to a fragment, machine-part or blob, Dada’s bodily images are confronted here as fictional constructs rather than mimetic integrated unities. They act as both a reflection of, and a reflection on, the disjunctive, dehumanised society of wartime and post-war Europe, whilst also proposing a blueprint of a future, possible body. Through detailed analysis of works by Max Ernst, Francis Picabia, Hannah Höch, Marcel Duchamp and others, informed by recent theoretical and critical perspectives, the work offers a reassessment of the movement, arguing that Dada occupies an ambivalent space, between the battlefield (in the satirical exposure of the lies of an ideology that sought to clothe the corpse of wartime Europe) and the fairground (in the playful manipulation of the body and its joyful renewal through laughter, dream and dance).

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The chapter opens with a discussion of Man Ray’s Black and White (1921), the photograph of an African female statuette juxtaposed with a classical European statue. The chapter investigates the relations between Dada’s ‘primitivism’ and Expressionism and, particularly, the influence of Carl Einstein’s Negerplastik (1915). Hannah Höch’s cycle of photomontages, Aus einem ethnographischen Museum (1924–34), composed of fragments from fashion magazines and ethnographic illustrations, is then discussed as her response to contemporary racist and colonial discourses in 1920s Weimar Germany; to tribal and commodity fetishism; and as a challenge to contemporary aesthetics of the body.

in Dada bodies
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Corpse or chrysalis

The chapter focuses on an analysis of Max Ernst’s early collages and the fatagaga photocollages produced with Hans Arp. It confronts the recycling of war images, arguing that they constitute not only a satire of the militaro-industrial machine of the First World War (the body as site of loss or trauma) but also a narrative of rebirth, informed by alchemical thought. The motif of the chrysalis or the man in flight in Ernst’s works is contrasted with fellow Cologne artist Heinrich Hoerle’s images of the wounded veteran in his series of lithographs, the Cripple Portfolio or Die Krüppelmappe (1919), shaped by a cynical view of the motif of renewal. Hoerle’s ‘unman’ thus confronts Ernst’s New Man.

in Dada bodies

This chapter turns to the rejection of essentialist notions of identity in favour of the Dada self as construct or process, constantly remodelled by chance or the irrational, and as multiple and open. It investigates, consequently, the Dadaists’ subversion of patriarchal law, based on the work of German psychoanalysts such as Otto Grosz, through the figure of the jester in Hans Richter’s film Vormittagsspuk (1928). The fluidity championed by the Dadaists is approached through Dada self-portraits and Hausmann’s Klebebild portraits. Finally, the accompanying breakdown of traditional gender categories surfaces in the analysis of Dada’s dysfunctional couples in the works of Grosz, Hannah Höch and others.

in Dada bodies
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The impossible machine

This chapter and the next explore the reconfigurations of the human form through the concept of the hybrid body. Chapter 4 begins by exploring the machine-as-body in Picabia’s mecanomorphic drawings, read as a satire of a technological utopia. In his games of perversion, the ‘becoming-machine’ of the body is explored as a ‘becoming-erotic’ of the machine, in particular in its feminised forms. The second part of the chapter focuses on an analysis of the body-as-machine in Berlin Dadaists’ violent exposure, through photomontage, of dismembered, prosthetic or mechanised bodies, in the works of George Grosz and others that satirised the myth of the heroic man-as-machine on the battlefield or on the post-war assembly-line.

in Dada bodies