The novel of colonial power and aesthetics
In the end everything becomes a story. And if it is told over and over that story becomes true. For centuries the Western world sought to conquer the body and mind of all lands and its peoples. Methodically all of it was categorized, explained and mythologized. In doing so The Great Story of the World was created. It still echoes today, whenever cultures clash or nature and man come head-to-head.
At the heart of this story, as in any story, is fiction. It is to a great extent a fantasy fueled by scientific evidence. A fantasy governed by the morals, taste and beliefs of the times. By re-examining these images the exhibition wants to create a new story – a novel of colonial power and aesthetics.
These portraits look so familiar. It’s the kind of pictures we’ve seen at the national galleries in Stockholm, London, Paris and Berlin. No matter where in Europe it was produced, the style is the same: a crisp face looking at you in the centre of the image. It is the gaze of Enlightenment.
But what we’re really looking at never existed. We are looking at ghosts for these images are entirely fictitious, created in the mind of Proos. Usually portraits like these are clear, like photographs painted in oil, but at the hand of Proos they are diffused watercolours. It is Reason turned into Romanticism.
Text by Anders Karndell
Bow Baudelaire, 2013
70X58cm, oil on canvas