For the Mauritshuis in The Hague I was engaged on a project which included research and exhibitions about plundered art or “roofkunst”, meaning specifically the works of art and artifacts that were stolen from colonialized countries and other subjugated peoples during the Western push to dominate the world. The project concerned the Rijksmuseum’s “Canon of the King of Kandy”, a small, richly encrusted ceremonial canon taken as spoils in 1765 from Sri Lanka, then Ceylon. It was plundered by soldiers in the service of the Dutch East India Company. We now recognize the VOC as a state-sponsored paramilitary corporation bent on subjugating —when necessary through murder and enslavement— of anyone it deemed weaker or inferior, and not just a league of jolly adventurers as it was in the past. In this light the Rijksmuseum is exploring the appropriate action to take in light of Sri Lankan demands to return it.
I made feasibility studies for the possibility of making a perfect facsimile in wood and bronze, made to help highlight questions about authenticity, the historic experience and public memory. To that end I also made a 3D model. We also made cost analyses of working with various materials and processes, such as massive bronze casting, hollow bronze casting, employing synthetic rubies, bronze gilding, and building the carriage in various possible woods. A change in the scope of the exhibition precluded however the execution of the facsimile.