Gert Jan Kocken

Stedelijk Museum Schiedam

Gert Jan Kocken has mostly been associated with his photographic series “Defacing,” 2004–2009, a (seemingly) straightforward presentation of mutilated artworks and Bibles that survived a wave of iconoclastic fury in northern Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Four years of research, in combination with Kocken’s characteristic technical precision, provided completely new imagery, challenging collective memory; the outbreak has been represented, of course, mainly in texts and an occasional print, but not in the actual objects of destruction. Kocken captured these “victims” with astonishing detail. Presenting them on a grand scale, he gave the images a highly material quality, imparting to them, in a way, a renewed invitation to reverence—albeit as modern art, in the profane context of the art museum, rather than as devotional objects.

In this show the photograph Madonna of

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