Universiteit Leiden

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Kunst en recht, kunst en onrecht

Tuesday 10 May 2016
Kamerlingh Onnes Building
Steenschuur 25
2311 ES Leiden

On Tuesday 10 May a faculty symposium will take place entitled “Kunst en recht, kunst en onrecht” (language is Dutch). The occasion being  the gift from Leiden alumnus Jan Maarten Boll of the artwork Homs which was made by the Syrian artist Rabi Koria. For this work Koria received the Royal Award for Modern Painting from King Willem-Alexander in October 2015. When presenting the award, the King said: “Experiences from foreign regions can take root in the Dutch clay soil and bear fruit.  Syria - a country whose defenceless heritage is currently severely threatened - is not very well known in our country from a cultural perspective. So we are very grateful that today we have a young artist with us who cherishes and promotes this heritage”.

The arrival of Homs has an impact on our faculty in a number of ways. As the King mentioned, cultural heritage in Syria is seriously under threat at present; what protection can the law offer that heritage? How can an artist give substance to his freedom of expression in a situation of war, and what impact does the experience of being uprooted, which is inextricably linked to fleeing from the country of origin, have on the development of an artist?

But the symbolic significance of the artwork Homs goes even deeper and touches the very heart of our faculty. That freedom and justice are inextricably linked to each other is self-evident for a university that was established at the beginning of the Eighty Years’ War - shortly after the Beeldenstorm in the Low Countries, when symbols of the Catholic Church were destroyed - which, with all the relative differences, still reminds us of the destruction of ‘beelden’ and cultural heritage in the Middle East in 2016.  The freedom to which the motto of our university, Praesidium Libertatis, refers must be reaffirmed and defended - sometimes in dramatic circumstances, like when Cleveringa did so in 1940. But also in education, we must continue to impress upon new generations of students the crucial role of the law and the rule of law. What role does art have to play here? And how do we create - on 10 May of all days, when Germany invaded this country in 1940 - a meaningful link between the civil war in Syria and the democratic rule of law in the Netherlands?


Part One:

  1. Opening by the Dean
  2. Prof. Marco Bronckers interviews Rabi Koria about his work Homs. How was the work created, and what is the artist trying to express? How is the work connected to Syrian traditions?
  3. Presentation of the photo series Fog of war by Marlène Dumas, including a short video by film maker Rudolf Evenhuis
  4. Prof. Marco Bronckers interviews Jan Maarten Boll and Laurens Jan Brinkhorst


Part Two:

  1. Prof. Afsin Ellian talks about the theme of art and (in)justice
  2. Contribution from Grotius,  Leiden Law School Study Association
  3. Prof. Marco Bronckers: questions and discussion
  4. Closing words by the Dean
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