My neighbor has petroglyphs in her backyard

I am pleased to announce, the National Archaeological Museum Aruba will open the exhibition My Neighbor has Petroglyphs in her Backyard at March 16th. The exhibition features fourteen different finely crafted photo works and a video installation. On show till December 2022.

In last decades Aruba developed explosively because of tourism and prior to that because of oil companies. On the grounds of these becoming increasingly rare pristine landscapes, including the unique rock drawings of Aruba, being infiltrated by building structures. These drawings are part of the islands' cultural heritage and an indispensable link between the Aruban identity and the indigenous past. However, they have no legally protected status. Today the drawings function as a tourist attraction, are located on private land (thus private property), and in the most distressing cases are vandalized or completely destroyed. The need for a legally protected status is high to prevent an increase in these cases.

In this project, the boundaries between pristine nature, cultivated nature, cultural heritage, and (natural) property are blurred through the process of various collage techniques. This so-called painting with pixels studies the hidden meanings of the visions of the future depicted in the drawings, precisely by dissecting and reconstructing the inextricable relationship with the living environment around the site. The location, many centuries ago, served as a presumed sacred place that gave birth to the drawings, now shares the same location of contradictory contemporary practices. At this moment, the past human presence, present abandonedness, and future uncertainty meet for the first time. Not sure how long this precious landscape will continue to live in its current form, whether the drawings can influence it, or whether they will move with the times of change.

The constantly changing landscapes may be halted temporarily through this project. The new perspectives offer a possible handle to restore the protective religious function of the rock drawings.

This project underlines both protected and unprotected cases, figurative and non-figurative drawings. In consideration of the rock drawings' protection and privacy of the property owners, no locations will be mentioned.

The research part of this project was made possible by the financial contribution of the Mondriaan Fund. Special thanks to MANA, Casnan Aruba, the kind property owners, family and friends, and my loving partner who was born and raised on the island.

This project includes seven triptychs, 85 photographs, and a video-installation.