Between April 7 – June 30 2018 the MOCA Tucson will present a retrospective of Folkert de Jong, exploring themes of global conquest, particularly events tied to The Netherlands yet mirrored and understood within a U.S. historical context. Frequently referencing figures and dress of Old Dutch Masters, de Jong bears witness to traumatic events and invites viewers to share with him in the acknowledgment of the horrors of war and subjugation. This exhibition features notable sculptures, installations, and paintings from the artist’s oeuvre, exploring the recurring self-destructive tendency of humanity.
Last Nation discusses themes of power, economy, politics, war, and ecology, often utilizing humor to make these topics accessible to wide audiences, ultimately creating a balance between the lightness of materials and colors with the gravity of the historical narrative. De Jong notes that “the Dutch seem to be very proud of their historical conquests.” Last Nation speaks to a world in which the dispossessed are still experiencing pain, a world in which the manufacture of theft and the political economy of stealing creates territories of containment.
Through various tableaus, de Jong discusses how violence becomes neutralized over time. His tongue-in-cheek references to monumentalism and its lasting and devastating effects are seen via the outdoor sculptures “Queen Mary” and “Spiritual Generator 2”, as well as his installation “Totemism” which includes monuments of Sukarno, George Washington, and Hernán Cortés. These works illustrate how monuments serve as markers to memorialize, summarize, and often valorize conquest. Folkert de Jong notes that “if we do not see ourselves as one in a vulnerable world, we will be the generation that is responsible for initiating the end of humanity.” This critical exhibition serves as a reminder that in war there are no winners, only losers, while simultaneously raising awareness to the imperialist historical baggage of torture, violence, and hatred.