- Erwin Olaf - Liberty (Relief of Leiden)
Retouching by Eclipse BCN
- Photographer Erwin Olaf has visualised the relief of Leiden according to ancient tradition, but with a modern wink. He was approached by Leiden University and Museum De Lakenhal to bring the relief of Leiden back to life by photography in the style of history paintings. The grand staging of this project - in the Pieterskerk in Leiden – brings renewed, (inter)national attention to the most archetypical liberation battle of the Dutch.
A feast for the eyes
The assignment to Erwin Olaf goes back to an ancient tradition: the relief of Leiden has been visualised in various paintings between the 16th and 19th century. The tradition was broken in the 20th century. Museum De Lakenhal wanted to bring the tradition back to life and, together with Leiden University Library, asked Erwin Olaf to make a 21st century photographic version of the history paintings. “By situating its staging in Pieterskerk and by involving a large number of figurants and models from all layers of Leiden’s people, the inhabitants of Leiden must feel a connection to the pictures. Moreover, there will be so many details in the work that it should be a feast to the eyes of anyone who sees it.” (Erwin Olaf, February 2011)
Olaf got inspired by existing portraits and new scientific information about the perception of 3 October. He tackled the project in a grand manner, as if he was producing a movie. Dozens of models and actors, plus ‘normal inhabitants’ of Leiden have figured. Olaf made a total of 7 photographic pictures: a grand history painting (over 2x3 metres) showing the drama of starvation and pest. This is the largest piece with the largest number of persons, and this will be exhibited in the exhibition Leidens Ontzet. Vrijheidsstrijd & Volksfeest. in Museum De Lakenhal. After this temporary exhibition it will be part of the continuous display in the museum.
Besides, Olaf made 6 smaller pictures showing stills and portraits which symbolise parts of the story of“3 October”. These pictures will be exhibited in Leiden University Library from 29 September 2011 until 8 January 2012. After the exhibition they will become part of the university’s special collections.
This project was supported by Leiden’s city council, Cultuurfonds Leiden, Fonds BKVB, Museum De Lakenhal and Leiden University Libraries.
The original text can be found here:(http://www.library.leiden.edu/library-locations/university-library/university-library/erwin-olaf-relief-leiden.html)