War as Ever! took as its starting point the Van Kittensteyn album, a collection of more than 500 prints and drawings dating from 1613 whose subject is the Eighty Years’ War of 1568–1648, the war of Netherlands independence from Spain which led to the formation of the Dutch Republic. In the collection of the Atlas van Stolk (Museum Rotterdam), the album was compiled by Willem Luytsz van Kittensteyn of Delft and portrays in bloody reportage the lengthy series of battles; sieges, executions and plundering that dominated the Dutch war of independence against the Spanish.

Tracy Mackenna and Edwin Janssen are interested in the relationship between conflict, looking and art. In War as Ever!, through visual reflection on images of war and violence they investigated the relationship between the Van Kittensteyn album and the contemporary role of the media in the representation of war and violence.

The exhibition project consisted of a double screen slide projection, performative actions, text posters, photographs, educational activities and a conference.

The slide projection WAR AS EVER!: Eighty Years and One Day is made up of a selection of prints from the Van Kittensteyn album and newspaper excerpts reporting the Iraq war, bought on 1st April 2003, the day Tracy and Edwin’s daughter was born.

The posters, designed by the artists, show a series of quotes from Susan Sontag’s book ‘Regarding the Pain of Others’.

In a series of situations in the city the artists presented a specially developed character based on the historical figure of a street vendor. Showing a series of black and white photographs that included images from the Nederlands Fotomuseum’s collection and Edwin’s family album, the Print Pedlar stimulated discussions with passers-by on the subject of human suffering and violence.

The conference WAR AS EVER? The artist and the museum in the conflict zone was chaired by Frits Gierstberg, (Head of Exhibitions, Nederlands Fotomuseum) and included presentations by Brigitte van der Sande (art historian, curator), Lina van der Wolde (Director Atlas van Stolk), Geert van Kesteren (Photojournalist), Flip Bool (Senior Curator Collections & Research, Nederlands Fotomuseum) and Tracy Mackenna and Edwin Janssen. Participants included students from DJCAD’s MFA programme.

In War as Ever! Tracy Mackenna and Edwin Janssen moved freely through time, place and context to take up various roles (artist, curator, educator) and make connections between the Atlas van Stolk and the Nederlands Fotomuseum’s collection, and various sites in Rotterdam.

Read The Print Pedlar’s Blog

See the publication WAR AS EVER! (2013) that represents the project and includes commissioned texts, designed in collaboration with Stout/Kramer.

The article WAR AS EVER! Art Practice as Interface, has been published in The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum (2013).

Supported by Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, University of Dundee, The Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, Atlas van Stolk

Nederlands Fotomuseum in collaboration with the Atlas Van Stolk, Rotterdam, the Netherlands

21 January-25 March 2012

Conflict, looking and art; the relationship between the historical Van Kittensteyn album and the role of the media in representing war and violence

Slide projection, photographs, posters, wall drawings, performative character, blog, conference and publication