Maurits Script

Wendelien van Oldenborgh

Kochi-Muziris Biennale

Kochi-Muziris Biennale
Fort Kochi, India

Wendelien van Oldenborgh uses the process of shooting a film as a trope in her works to orchestrate confrontation and dialogue between people and viewpoints from disparate points in history.

Maurits Script (2006) is a double-channel installation that connects a little-known moment in Netherland’s colonial past to its present political landscape. The film dwells on a hybrid group of people, nearly all of them migrants to Netherlands with connections to erstwhile Dutch colonies, as they read out a script assembled from accounts of a brief period from 1637 to 1653 when the Dutch West Indies Company colonised North-East Brazil. Incidentally, this was also the time when the Dutch East India Company was making gains on the Malabar Coast, culminating in the conquest of Kochi in 1663.

Oldenborgh films the participants within the Mauritshuis in The Hague, a building originally built by Johan Maurits van Nassau-Siegen, the governor of Dutch Brazil. By placing a mottled group of migrants dissecting a grey area of Dutch history within the Mauritshuis, now museum and a monument to Dutch national history and pride, Oldenbourgh performs a critical intervention on the building’s triumphal architecture and what it represents. Seated in a hall of the Mauritshuis, the ‘actors’ read personal accounts by Maurits and others. As one person reads, the remaining members engage in a free discussion of the contents of the script, including references to the cultural complexity of Brazil, Dutch attitudes towards the indigenous people and Maurits’ complicity in slave trade. Before long, these discussions lead to debates on migration, ‘integration’ and racism in modern Netherlands – subtly illuminating ways in which the legacy of colonialism continues to animate our present.


  • Title: Maurits Script
  • Creator: Wendelien van Oldenborgh
  • Type: Video
  • Medium: Video installation with two projections and architectural intervention. Dutch with English subtitles
  • Gallery: ASpinwall House, Fort Kochi
  • First Creator: 1962
  • Date of artwork's creation: 2006
  • Creator's practice: Rotterdam.
  • Creator's date of birth: Rotterdam, Netherlands.

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