This summer no fewer than three museums will be exhibiting the works of the artists Marta Volkova and Slava Shevelenko. These works consist of wall hangings and prints from the series ‘Siebold’s Dreams’, fantasies based on the life of the Germany physician von Siebold and his collection. Museum the Lakenhal, Japan Museum SieboldHuis and Museum de Schat van Simpelveld have joined forces to present this project to the public.
Marta Volkova en Slava Shevelenko
Both Marta Volkova and Slava Shevelenko were born in Sint-Petersburg in Russia. They were active in the underground artists scene in Sint Petersburg but discovered that practicing their profession in freedom there was impossible. In 1991 they left for the Netherlands to build a new life and career. It was during the ‘Kunst in het Singelpark’ in 2021 that their interest in Siebold, his life and work, was aroused. They saw similarities with their own experiences and, like Siebold, they too began a new life in another country and immersed themselves in the local culture. A constant theme in the works of Marta and Slava is the concept of intellectual freedom where there are no boundaries.
Narrative Art Works
Marta and Slava brought their fascination for Siebold to life in a collection of narrative works in which fact and fiction are intertwined. In a series of wall hangings and prints they created dream-like images that could well have sprouted from Siebold’s brain. As in their other installations, the collective and personal histories of the artists are inextricably interwoven in these works. The works were further enhanced with dream interpretations by author Marente de Moor, giving them deeper insight.
Siebold’s indigenous plant collection brought vast knowledge to the Western world. However, over the years opinions have changed regarding the import of exotic plants: many invasive plant species form a threat for the European environment. In the Siebold’s Dream project a parallel is laid between the fate of the exotic plant species and that of many people who struggle to find common ground with Europe. It is academic, social and moral issues such as these that the artists endeavour to explore in their work.
The Siebold’s Dreams project can be seen in three locations in the Netherland from June 1st. Museum de Schat van Simpelveld, Museum de Lakenhal and Japan Museum SieboldHuis will all exhibit different wall hangings and prints that make up this exhibition. The presentation in Museum de Lakenhal will be on view until 24 August 2023.
It was exactly 200 years ago that the German physician Philipp Franz von Siebold, (1796-1866), was sent by the Dutch government, to Japan. He arrived in Japan on the Dutch trading post Deshima, which had been closed to the Western world.
Siebold was instructed to gather information on the country, on trade and political system. Fascinated by the country, Siebold collected a vast array of items, including maps, utensils, traditional clothing, stuffed animals, prints Japanese artists. Above everything else Siebold introduced over 700 Japanese plants to the Netherlands. A significant portion of his now world famous collection is housed in the present day Japan Museum SieboldHuis in Leiden, where Siebold opened his collection to the public in 1832.