In 2002 Niek Verschoor began to question the relationship between violence and the threat of violence and the fragility of art and culture which form the core of a nation’s identity. He analyses concepts such as ‘aggressor’ and ‘victim’ in conflicts and war zones and converts them into powerful and imaginative images and interventions in public spaces. His research has also led him to collaborate with the Dutch Ministry of Defense. This subject matter is even more relevant today, given the current war raging in Ukraine.
For our exhibition, Verschoor has made a series of works on gun triggers, showing that the connection between the finger and the trigger, the tiny piece of metal that represents the most essential part of the mechanism, is responsible for its irrevocable and devastating consequences. The trigger is the sole interface between human and killing machine, and it pinpoints the exact moment where the human decision is ultimately made to release lethal violence.
“The Finger and the Trigger” shows that it is precisely the consequences of pulling the trigger that make a weapon seductive, even sexy: one weapon keeps another at bay and under control—it confers power. That both the weapon itself and the enemy are actually close enough to be psychologically inseparable from the person holding the weapon means whoever pulls the trigger doesn’t just hit the target, but first and foremost himself. Around this theme, Verschoor will be exhibiting installations, objects, work on paper, and video.
Also on exhibit will be a copy of the Treaty of Vijfhuizen (2017), addressing the responsibility of a country’s military to protect art and culture in peace and war. In 2004, to call attention to this issue, Verschoor and Army adjudant Ab van Lieshout created the 11th Dutch Airborne Art Rangers, a unique part of the 11th Dutch Air Assault Brigade. 11DAAR deployed to Uruzgan, Afghanistan in 2009 (performance Operation Blue Ferryman) and, in 2014, to the RAW Art Fair in Rotterdam (Operation RAW Shield). The signing of the Treaty of Vijfhuizen, also a performance, codified the aforementioned principles and was signed at the fortress by Brigadier General Kees Matthijssen and Anne Demeester, then Director of the Frans Hals Museum.
Verschoor has carried out related projects at various locations in The Netherlands and abroad, even sending the first Dutch artwork into space, aboard a satellite (KISS in Space, 2007). In 2023, his work Last Bullet will be launched to remain forever on the moon, on a lunar lander.