Colour portraits of Black Pete (Zwarte Piet) assistant to Sinta Klaus (Saint Nicholas) in Dutch Christmas story.
In mid November Sinta Klaus arrives by boat in every major Dutch city accompanied by 100’s of Zwarte Piets (predominantly white women and children, blacked-up) who alternate between dancing clowns and menacing baton wielders. The story originates from 16th century when Spain occupied the territory and had Moorish servants/slaves who would have served Sinta Klaas.
This is a controversial tradition that few people from outside the region know about – these portraits announce Zwarte Piet in a deliberately formal manner using the style of Renaissance portraiture. The work was produced with support from Autograph in the UK. The essay by Mieke Bal in the publication explores the history of Zwarte Piet in the Netherlands and should be exhibited alongside the photographs for the purpose of contextualisation.
Published by Black Dog, essay by Mieke Bal, 1999
ISBN: 1 901 03386