Carlos Motta: The Crossing

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
The Stedelijk Museum presents Carlos Motta: The Crossing, a newly commissioned two-part installation of videos and objects by New York-based, Colombian artist Carlos Motta (1978, Bogota).

In The Crossing, Carlos Motta presents video portraits of eleven LGBTQI refugees who speak about their experiences before, during and after the exodus from their homelands to the Netherlands. Their touching accounts demonstrate the challenges of living amid homophobia and transphobia, in cultures where repression and discrimination make the open expression of non-normative genders and sexualities practically impossible.

The exclusion, intimidation and abuse experienced by these refugees also took place during their asylum seeking processes in Dutch refugee camps, where they were humiliated and bullied by other refugees and often failed to obtain the protection they sought from Dutch authorities. In addition to the eleven videos, The Crossing presents around twenty historic objects from the collections of the Rijksmuseum, Tropenmuseum and Amsterdam Museum.

Presented in two large glass cabinets, these etches, photos, porcelains, souvenir sculptures, and other objects observe the exile of diverse groups to the Netherlands, including Protestants in the 18th century and the exodus from Belgium in 1914. The objects in the display cases also refer to the Netherlands colonial past and its link with colonised peoples whose cultural identities and social positions were shaped by Dutch dominance and the dilution of local customs by Dutch traditions.

In this way, Motta weaves together contemporary and historic histories of flight and forced migration, where the Netherlands is perceived as a humanist state that breeds hospitality, a welcoming refugee policy, and social and cultural tolerance through the framework of international human rights. The Crossing makes evident how this image of a hospitable nation is an ideological construct that is under attack by populist political movements that erode liberal European ideals.


Video credits

Thanks to:

Carlos Motta

Martijn van Nieuwenhuyzen

Direction and editing: Rosa Boesten

Camera: Jurgen Lisse

Music: Niek Stronks

Subtitles: Einion Media

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