In '72 he enrolled in The Royal Art Academy in Arnhem, but due to lack of focus, had to withdraw from the school. In the coming years, Moansburg joined the Bartabas Horse circus, then in 1982 fled back to Holland after hearing of his mother's tragic death.
'John Lennon’s death hit Moansburg hard. He was never a sycophantic follower of anyone, but loved to admire from a distance. But he probably loved The Rolling Stones equally, and refused to be drawn into the clichéd Stones vs. Beatles debate.'
I Heard the News Today - Crail Moansburg
“Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends and I think I’m liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That’s what’s insane about it.” John Lennon - 6th June 1968
'Over many years, Moansburg has honed and shaped his artistic production practices, from the heady days of his experimental period to the first (proper) collection ‘Nothing to Declare’, a sublime retort to the ubiquitous and somewhat surreal question at Customs “Anything to Declare?”. The once proud chimpanzee, formerly entertaining hordes of people at the Circus, latterly relegated to the bargain bucket as a part-time animal model for Hallmark Cards, suggesting that our disposable labour supply also extends to the animal world too.'
'The Circus Collection was the obvious choice for the second collection, the style and vernacular a massive influence on Moansburg in his formative years, culminating in him joining the Bartabas Horse Circus in Paris in 1981. It is also a visual homage to Barnum and Bailey AKA “The Greatest Show On Earth”, who have recently announced their transition to animal-free circuses.'
'The latest collection ‘Bitter Sweet Domestication’, a visual odyssey directly into Moanburg’s incredible trajectory, his critical reflections punctuating significant moments in his life. His early pining for an archetypal nuclear family, in sharp contrast to the reality of an absentee father and a household held together on a shoestring budget by his loving Mother’s extra-curricula activities.'
Domestication - Crail Moansburg from the 'Bitter Sweet Domestication' collection.
'For many years, there was the persistent rumour that Moansburg had kept a photo of Mata Hari in his wallet since childhood and had regularly presented it as his Mother when questioned on his heritage. With a young Moansburg, no doubt traumatised and in denial regarding his Mother’s descent into the murky world of nightclub prostitution, it was a particularly credible possibility.'
'Due to the extremely delicate nature of the question (Moansburg’s Mother was tragically killed in Africa in 1982), it had remained unanswered for many years. Then one summers day in 2001, soon after Moansburg had opened his first screen print studio in The Hague, a foolish and naive assistant thought it wise to rifle through Moansburg’s wallet.'
'The irony runs deeper than usual on this one. Mata Hari, famously executed in October 1917 for allegedly spying for Germany, the bulk of her guilt attributed to her fraudulent claims of being of a Javanese Princess, when she was actually of Dutch heritage.'
'But the real revelation was that Moansburg had spent nearly 40 years presenting a photo of someone he thought was in denial of their heritage because he was in denial of his own heritage, when in reality he had been representing his Mother with a withered and torn photo of Anita Berber, the notorious Weimar Era actress and dancer.'
'Berber, famous for her brazen bisexuality and rampant drug use, was found dead in bed in 1928, aged 29, surrounded by assortment of morphine syringes and bowls filled with chloroform and ether mixed with white rose petals.'
'Moansburg’s assistant was later sacked.'
"At the end of last year, I was watching a documentary about Amy Winehouse, it moved me of course, and found later on a picture of her as a child. I could not let go of the emotion which got a hold of me and used the photo to produce an etching. The slow process of etching suited the feeling I had with the image, rubbing the black ink off the silver plate until the image appears again."
We hope you enjoyed the blog this week! If you have any questions, don't hesitate to drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or give the gallery team a call on +44(0)20 3667 4550. Thanks!
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