Saskia Olde Wolbers – Unreliable Biographers

From the 16th September to the 26th December 2023, the Vincent van Gogh House Zundert will be showing the exhibition Unreliable Biographers by London-based artist Saskia Olde Wolbers. At the centre of the exhibition is the narrative short video ‘Yes, These Eyes are the Windows’, told from the perspective of the London terraced house in Brixton, where Van Gogh lived for a year in 1873. In this work, Olde Wolbers, who is interested in oral history, questions the mythologisation of Van Gogh and his state of mind as a tormented genius and troubled artist. She also highlights the irony that the house was listed in 1970 after a postman discovered the residence of this world-famous tenant, and subsequently fell into disrepair. In 2012, the house was put up for auction and bought by James Wang.

In 2014, Olde Wolbers, in collaboration with Artangel, created a sound installation to guide visitors through the building in its former dilapidated state, prior to the renovation of 87 Hackford Road London.

The exhibition Unreliable Biographers takes place in various rooms of the Van Gogh House. Olde Wolbers is known for her unusual visual language. Bice Curiger, director of the Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles, where the work was shown in 2016, wrote: “Pans around the empty rooms alternate with brief fictive scenes from the lives of the residents, while our eyes repeatedly penetrate spaces that appear to be dripping and melting in strangely organic fashion. As if we were suddenly visiting the house’s mental inner life, a flourishing biotope in a feverish world of images that constantly refers us to the myth created around Van Gogh.”

Alongside the film are the original miniature film sets and a wallpaper designed by Fraser Muggeridge Studio, featuring tabloid newspaper clippings from the 1970s with frenzied gossip about Van Gogh’s love life. After Olde Wolbers’ project, the property became a heritage site and part of the European Van Gogh Route.

With this exhibition, the Van GoghHuis Zundert is strengthening its links with the Van Gogh House London. The timing is deliberate: in September 2023 it will be exactly 150 years since Vincent arrived in London. His birth in Zundert is celebrated this year as part of the van Gogh Europe partnership as part of Van Gogh 170.

Made possible by Mondriaan Fonds