Moving Exhibition Panic to Magic in Dat Bolwerck


1572 is back on the map. That year marked the turning point in the 80-year war from which Holland emerged, as we know it: free, tolerant, connected and diverse. It is not entirely unfair that Ukrainian President Zelensky referred to this during his speech to the House of Representatives. Freedom is so obvious in Holland that four hundred and fifty years later we do not seem to know anything about this national history. In Zutphen – an important defensive city in this forgotten history – the traces of the Eighty Years’ War are still visible in the cityscape. This was a reason for Erfgoedcentrum Zutphen to arrange a series of events around 1572 this season.

ZUTPHEN – The exhibition Turn Panic into Magic, which opens on Saturday 28 May in Dat Bolwerck, is super current and touching. Erwin Thomasse, Atelier Roosje Klap and the Ukrainian Luba Drozd take you into their emotional life in freedom and captivity. You can go in without obligation until 26 June (Thursday to Sunday from 11:00 to 17:00).

By Meike Wesselink

A pandemic, a large influx of refugees, lack of raw materials, tumult over sexuality and young people in doubt about their future prospects; we feel it somewhere, but we can only really interpret the interwar period we are in afterwards. It’s so much the more interesting to listen to who was already in crisis. In this regard, the Ukrainian Luba Drozd, who in the middle of his déjà vu almost works day and night on his installation in Dat Bolwerck’s basement. Something with sound and an eerie feeling. Feel free to let it in if you one day walk down from the sunny terrace to the medieval cellar of Dat Bolwerck.

Luba has lived in freedom in Brooklyn, New York for over twenty years. With her impressive CV, she has already created quite a bit of attention with her work. She received rave reviews for her exhibit at the former Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, where she managed to capture the concept of captivity concretely from one of the former cells. It takes courage to hold up a mirror to a state and a country that believes it can do well with strict laws and (still) heavy penalties. Marlise van der Jagt, artistic director of Dat Bolwerck, succeeded in bringing Luba to Zutphen and developing a work specifically for Turn Panic into Magic.

Luba does not work on works of art in fabric (a painting, a sculpture). It’s about the experience and the abrasive feeling and the contrast between the big and the small, which you will definitely experience from Dat Bolwerck’s basement.

Luba does not get rid of it easily. She works on her installation almost day and night. She sets cords for small motors and adjusts them until she has found her arrangement. The tiredness and at the same time tirelessness can be read on her face. Meanwhile, Luba is keeping in touch with her Ukrainian friends and family who are in danger, on the run. She raised money with friends and fellow artists through artistic campaigns. “For food, coffee and cigarettes,” Luba smiles. But also, no matter how rude it may sound to a pacifist artist, for targeted weapons to defend Ukraine.

Luba himself fled to New York in the 1990s at the age of fifteen with his family. Ukraine, which had just been torn away from the then USSR, was on the brink of independence and democracy. Because of the Jewish stamp in their passports and the anti-Semitism still smoldering under the skin, the family was looking for a path to freedom.

Luba is angry at the fake news being dumped on social media and being ruthlessly accepted, not just by the old guard. Therefore, she does what she can. Because Lviv, where Luba comes from, forms her roots, she wants to go there one last time before her city is bombed to the ground. Surprisingly, that has not happened yet.

After years, she has re-established the connection with her father and stepbrother. Now they are on the run and luckily close. They meet soon, and Luba’s father is introduced to her work for the first time in Dat Bolwerck.

Start your visit to the basement and then step over the ground again to bask in the fine cadence of Erwin Thomas’ work. Right now exhibited in several places in the country, including on the roof of the Van Abbemuseum. Enjoy the fraternal collaboration between young people from WALHALLAb who work behind the sewing machine at Universal Kimono. A co-production with the successful Atelier Roosje Klap. The freedom you then step back into may feel a little less obvious.

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