Erwin Olaf: Relief of Leiden
Photographer Erwin Olaf has visualised the relief of Leiden according to ancient tradition, but with a modern tint. Visit the exhibition from 29 September.
Photographer Erwin Olaf was approached by Leiden University and Museum De Lakenhal to recreate the relief of Leiden back to life through the medium of photography in the style of history paintings. The grand staging of this project - in the Pieterskerk in Leiden – brings renewed, (inter)national attention to the most archetypical liberation battle of the Dutch. A series of smaller portraits and stills are exhibited in the Leiden University Library from 29 September 2011 to 8 January 2012. A large history painting will be on display in De Lakenhal Museum in the same period as a separate, but important part of the exhibition (30 September 2011 to 8 January 2012).
You can also visit the web exhibition which shows the work of Erwin Olaf in a wider context of historical paintings that served as inspiration for this project, and other work by Erwin Olaf.
The assignment to Erwin Olaf refers back to an ancient tradition: the relief of Leiden has been visualised in various paintings between the 16th and 19th centuries. The tradition was broken in the 20th century. Museum De Lakenhal wanted to bring the tradition back to life and, together with Leiden University Library, asked Erwin Olaf to make a 21st century photographic version of the history paintings. 'By situating its staging in the Pieterskerk and by involving a large number of figurants and models from all layers of Leiden’s people, the inhabitants of Leiden must feel a connection to the pictures. Moreover, there will be so many details in the work that it should be a feast for the eyes of anyone who sees it.' (Erwin Olaf, February 2011)
Olaf was inspired by existing portraits and new scientific information about the perception of 3 October. He tackled the project in a grand manner, as if he were producing a movie. Dozens of models and actors were used, as well as everyday Leiden inhabitants. Olaf made a total of 7 photographic images: a grand history painting (over 2x3 metres) showing the drama of starvation and plague. This is the largest piece portraying the largest number of persons, and it will be exhibited in the Leidens Ontzet. Vrijheidsstrijd & Volksfeest exhibition in De Lakenhal museum. After this temporary exhibition it will be part of the permanent exhibition in the museum.
Olaf also made 6 smaller pictures showing stills and portraits which symbolise parts of the story of 3 October. These pictures will be exhibited in the Leiden University Library from 29 September 2011 until 8 January 2012. After the exhibition they will become part of the university’s special collections.
This project was supported by Leiden’s city council, Cultuurfonds Leiden, Fonds BKVB, Museum De Lakenhal and Leiden University Libraries.
The invitations and posters for the festive opening in the University Library depict persons who played a key role in the Relief of Leiden: Jan van Hout, Jan van der Does and Magdalena Moons (all links to Dutch pages on Wikipedia).
Omslag 3 2011, a publication by the University Library and the Scaliger Institute, with a special feature on the Erwin Olaf project