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The Admiral's Headache

The Admiral's Headache

The Admiral's Headache

Jasper de Beijer

The Admiral's Headache

install view

Installation view of Jasper de Beijer's The Admiral's Headache, April 10 - May 15, 2021, Asya Geisberg Gallery, NYC. Photo by Etienne Frossard.

Portrait

Jasper de Beijer in the studio, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

The Admiral’s Headache is the newest series of photographic works by Amsterdam-based Jasper de Beijer. Similar to his previous series, The Brazilian Suitcase, in which de Beijer focuses on encounters between Western explorers and the native residents of the Brazilian jungle, this new work expands on the artist’s familiar themes over the last 20 years working with Dutch colonialism and the history of slavery. De Beijer chooses subjects for their strong visual mythology, and combines photography, digital sketching, 3D modeling, and sculpture to respond to how the media and society still operate on romanticized imperialist clichés. Every object in this series is first designed in a game-modeling software, and is then printed as a flat 2D blueprint, cut out and folded, and finally reconfigured as 3D paper miniatures on a scale-model landscape in the studio to be photographed.

The photographs in The Admiral’s Headache reference 18th-century hand-colored engravings. Up close, the viewer notices fine and meticulous hand-drawn lines with an eerie sci-fi quality.  Throughout the series, patterns and decorative elements on the carriage, building facades, ships, ominous sugar refineries, and oil drums, are implemented to place everything in its historical context. From a distance, these photographs look like seamless colonial paintings, but up close the tell-tale clues of the cut paper reveal themselves.

Residency: Instituto Buena Bista in Curaçao, 2017

text

From De Beijer's research archive: Zacharias Wagner, "Mercado de escravos no Recife (Slave market in Recife)", c.  1637-1644. Recife, founded in 1537, was the first slave port in the Americas during the early Portuguese colonization of Brazil. It was known for its large scale production of sugar cane.

The Admiral’s Headache refers to the story of Albert Kikkert, the former admiral and Governor of Curaçao in the early 1800’s. Kikkert complained that the white facades of the buildings shining in the sun exacerbated his migraines, and ordered that they all be painted the bright shades typical of Curaçao’s waterfront today. Kikkert made a tidy profit as well, as he owned the only paint factory on the island. During his residency at the Instituto Buena Bista in Curaçao (2017), De Beijer collected research about this former colony of the Netherlands, focusing primarily on the historical 17th-century architecture. The artist was intrigued by the unique modular, hermetic character of the buildings, ships, tools, and weapons that were brought over to Curaçao, a vast profit making machine imported, assembled, and intended to be powered by human beings.

On site photographs

A landhuis is a colonial country house. They were replicas of Dutch architecture imported to Curaçao. De Beijer is interested in their historical role as "cultural coccoons", insulating colonialists on the island.

resaerch image

Left: photo by De Beijer, taken during his residency when he visited the Museum Kurá Hulanda, Curaçao.

Right: from the artist's research archive — a former plantation of Siberio Cafiero, Curaçao (1900-1904).

 

"Galjoen"

drawing

De Beijer's sketch of "Galjoen" from The Admiral's Headache series.

De Beijer noticed that the ships have a lot in common with the buildings in Curaçao — the old galjoens have small windows and the same kind of hatches. The paper maquette for "Galjoen" is the only model de Beijer built in Curaçao. The remaining miniature models throughout the series were designed during his residency, but built in the artist's studio in Amsterdam over the course of three years. 

 

studio shot

De Beijer's maquette of "Galjoen" from The Admiral's Headache.

photograph

Jasper de Beijer
The Admiral's Headache: "Galjoen", 2018
C-Print
43" x 43"
Edition 6 of 7 + 1AP
 

"Brigadier"

studio shot

De Beijer in his studio carrying the maquette for "Brigadier" to be photographed.

"Brigadier" is partly an autobiographical piece, reflecting De Beijer's experience during the four months he spent alone in Curaçao during his residency. He depicts the legacy of colonialism without physical human bodies and instead shows only empty, discarded shells. The human factor is removed but the facade remains, impenetrable. Historical context is captured in the details of costumes, carriages, and modular houses.

The costumes in The Admiral's Headache are made completely by hand, and are more complicated to make than the architectural models because of the creases, folds, and texture of the clothing.

drawing

De Beijer's sketch of "Brigadier" from The Admiral's Headache.

Text

Preparatory sketch for The Admiral's Headache.

De Beijer began cutting out old engravings and etchings, combining them with additions, such as smoke and lightning, as a way to emphasize the surreal magical quality in each photograph.

The artist creates a world where the colonialists are hidden players, present but unseen behind imposing mansions. The uniformity of everything on the island was specifically organized to keep people out and the Dutch comfortably in, which included a warmness within the family, the famed Dutch gezelligheid - the hard shell of a fortress protecting coziness and conviviality.

etching

De Beijer's digital collages, altering found 18th-century engravings with colorful explosions to animate the works.

 

The stripped-out colonialist lurks around Curaçao with a ghost-like omnipresence, appearing in traces of puffs, gunpowder shots, or magical smoke emanating from fired cannons.

“Refinery”

sketch - refinery

De Beijer's 3D paper models included in "Refinery".

De Beijer's desolate, surreal and industrial realm has scenes of huge ships unloading prefab and modular floor units. The Admiral's Headache is an island riddled with fantastic machines waiting to be involuntarily powered by extracted human labor.

Refinery model steps

De Beijer's digital drawing process for "Refinery" (reads from top to bottom).

sketch - refinery

Digital preparatory sketches for "Refinery".

studio shot

De Beijer's maquette for "Refinery" with paper miniatures.

studio shot

De Beijer building the 3D paper miniatures for "Refinery".

“Bastion”

sketch - bastion

Digital preparotry sketch for "Bastion".

“Bastion” is based on historical Dutch conflict with the English. The image incorporates the idea of the epic battle, with the drama of a science fiction story, an unseen enemy staging a type of alien invasion. On the roof of each landhuis was a hole for a signal fire, used as a visual communication device between the farmhouses that could spread news throughout the island within 5 minutes. This method was used if there was an outside attack or slave uprising. The colorful, hollowed-out bunkers overlook modular slave houses, sprinkled through the landscape in a less organized way than the Dutch fortress farmhouses. Inhabitants are caught in the middle of the battle, without protection. 

studio shot

Inside de Beijer’s studio, building the model set for “Bastion”.

studio shot

Details of The Admiral's Headache: "Bastion".

"Carriage"

research image

A wig, image from De Beijer's research archive.

In “Carriage” the original design is based on drawings, and a colorful carriage De Beijer saw in Curaçao. It contains rich detail, and the ghostly colonialist glimpsed leaving the safety of an opulent carriage is again present but not present under elaborate clothing.

studio shot

Two-dimensional blueprint renders for the interior of the carriage.

studio shot

"Cabin"

studio shot

“Cabin” shows cannons firing from the inside of a ship. De Beijer was interested in the magical element of fire, from cannons blasting through ship portholes to signal fires from the roofs of fortresses.

Cabin

Jasper de Beijer
The Admiral's Headache: "Cabin", 2021
C-Print
31.5" x 55"
Edition of 7 + 1AP


 

Thumb-Show

Thumb-Show Thumbnails

Jasper de Beijer
The Admiral's Headache: "Galjoen", 2018
C-Print
43.31h x 43.31w in
110h x 110w cm
Edition 5 of 7 + 1AP
JDB027
 

Plus d’informations

Jasper de Beijer
The Admiral's Headache: "Carriage", 2019
C-Print
43.31h x 43.31w in
110h x 110w cm
Edition 3 of 7 + 1AP
JDB029-2
 

Plus d’informations

Jasper de Beijer
The Admiral's Headache: "Brigadier", 2019
C-Print
39.37h x 52.76w in
100h x 134w cm
JDB028
 

Plus d’informations

Jasper de Beijer
The Admiral's Headache: "Refinery", 2020
C-Print
41.73h x 66.93w in
106h x 170w cm
Edition of 7 + 1AP
JDB030
 

Plus d’informations

Jasper de Beijer
The Admiral's Headache: "Bastion", 2020
C-Print
33.07h x 70.87w in
84h x 180w cm
Edition of 7 + 1AP
JDB031
 

Plus d’informations

Jasper de Beijer
The Admiral's Headache: "Cabin", 2021
C-Print
31.50h x 55.12w in
80h x 140w cm
Edition of 7 + 1AP
JDB032
 

Plus d’informations

Jasper de Beijer
The Admiral's Headache: "Galjoen", 2018
C-Print
43.31h x 43.31w in
110h x 110w cm
Edition 5 of 7 + 1AP
JDB027
 

Jasper de Beijer
The Admiral's Headache: "Carriage", 2019
C-Print
43.31h x 43.31w in
110h x 110w cm
Edition 3 of 7 + 1AP
JDB029-2
 

Jasper de Beijer
The Admiral's Headache: "Brigadier", 2019
C-Print
39.37h x 52.76w in
100h x 134w cm
JDB028
 

Jasper de Beijer
The Admiral's Headache: "Refinery", 2020
C-Print
41.73h x 66.93w in
106h x 170w cm
Edition of 7 + 1AP
JDB030
 

Jasper de Beijer
The Admiral's Headache: "Bastion", 2020
C-Print
33.07h x 70.87w in
84h x 180w cm
Edition of 7 + 1AP
JDB031
 

Jasper de Beijer
The Admiral's Headache: "Cabin", 2021
C-Print
31.50h x 55.12w in
80h x 140w cm
Edition of 7 + 1AP
JDB032