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american indians, art and culture between myth and reality

Designing an exhibition on Indians on the holy ground of the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam – speaking of boyhood dreams! We were asked to design an exhibition on the artistic traditions of various North-American Indian tribes and at the same time to expose our own images of Indians. To show how Klukkluk, Hiawatha and Winnetou – along with Lego, Playmobil and Hollywood – created stereotypes with headdresses, tipis, totem poles and peace pipes. Stereotypes that have little to do with reality.

By emphasizing the architecture of the church with huge blow-ups, we have created an exhibition space that could almost be called intimate. A subtle red glow suggests a smouldering campfire. One side of the church shows our stereotypes of the North-American Indians. The books, films, comic books and figurines are bound to evoke nostalgia. At the same time, it is awkward to see how poorly the images fit the reality. The true story is told in the second part of the exhibition. The display cases around the choir show the real stuff and have a different feel. As the stylized echo of a prairie landscape, they set a worthy stage for a collection of very precious art-historical objects.


  • client  de nieuwe kerk amsterdam
  • www  www.nieuwekerk.nl
  • construction  iris vormgeving
  • lighting design  joost de beij
  • photography  mike bink


  • en  volkskrant 12 december 2012

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