Annet Mooij on the upcoming biography of Gisèle

The Warp and Weft of Memory



An exhibition and online presentation by Renée Turner

“There are stains. What are we to do with them? Her sweat has turned brown with time and its acid has etched itself into her white cotton shirts and the lining of dresses. Skin oil has darkened the fingers of leather gloves, and her idiosyncratic walk has shaped the heels of her shoes. Her clothes have been recording devices.” – excerpt from The Warp and Weft of Memory, 2018.

In her latest multi-faceted work, Renée Turner explores the contents of Gisèle d’Ailly van Waterschoot van der Gracht’s closet. Although Gisèle passed away in 2013 at the age of one hundred, the traces of her figure can still be sensed through the shape and wear of her clothes. Spanning decades, the range of garments illustrates her fascination with travel, textiles, and design. There are Greek woollen vests, a Chinese silk jacket and several dresses fashioned by the renowned Dutch designer Dick Holthaus. All were meticulously itemized in Gisèle’s own wardrobe inventories. As Turner notes, “Gisèle was a taxonomist of her own life.”

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Verschijnen biografie Gisèle

Annet Mooij

De Eeuw van Gisèle
Mythe en werkelijkheid van een kunstenares

De Bezige Bij. September 2018.

Zeven jaar geleden benaderden wij  Annet Mooij met het verzoek het leven van Gisèle te beschrijven. Het niets verhullende resultaat van haar intensieve onderzoek levert een prachtig en meeslepend boek op, dat je vanaf de eerste bladzijde meeneemt in de ontwikkeling van een wat flirterig katholiek-aristocratisch meisje dat nog niet weet wat ze wil, tot een verbazingwekkend veelzijdige persoonlijkheid en kunstenares, die als het er tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog echt om spant ,een vriendengroep rondom de Duitse dichter Wolfgang Frommel omarmt en moedig onderdak verleent.

Annet Mooij legt de lang verzwegen moeilijkheden bloot die Gisèle ondervond in diezelfde vriendengroep, de absolute dominantie van Wolfgang Frommel, de pijn om als vrouw stelselmatig buitengesloten te worden uit deze inner circle en de ondankbare en denigrerende houding van diegenen wiens leven zij redde. Annet Mooij beschrijft tevens de pedagogiek van Frommel die erop gericht was om jongeren in zijn ban te krijgen en de grensoverschrijdende seksuele moraal die daaraan ten grondslag lag.

De Eeuw van Gisèle. Mythe en werkelijkheid van een kunstenares biedt een rake en rijke inkijk in de onalledaagse ontwikkeling en levensloop van een sterke, eigenzinnige en kosmopolitische  vrouw die tot het eind trouw blijft aan haar keuzes en die de kunst verstaat om de onvermijdelijke consequenties van deze keuzes steeds weer tot innerlijke harmonie te brengen.

Ter gelegenheid van het verschijnen van het boek heeft Annet Mooij een tentoonstelling samengesteld. Aan de hand van Gisèle’s kunst en historische documenten toont zij de levensloop en de artistieke en persoonlijke ontwikkeling van Gisèle.


Reaction on publications on Wolfgang Frommel

We follow the subsequent publications on one of Castrum Peregrini’s founders Wolfgang Frommel with thorough interest. When we broke with his tradition (the Castrum Peregrini journal, a hermetic circle of friends based on the heritage of Stefan George), we were met with great resistance from the heirs of Wolfgang Frommel. Now, 10 years later, members of that very same circle begin to speak about traumatic experiences they made sexually and in terms of inter-dependence. Not all of them speak out so clearly against Frommel, there are also voices that defend Wolfgang Frommel or seek the nuances in memory. We as the current generation of Castrum Peregrini, that have turned away from the heritage of Frommel – not because we knew of any abuse, but because we felt his story was anachronistic and that the story of Gisèle served as inspiration for us and deserved attention while she was still alive – are glad that the post-war generation of Frommel disciples start to get to terms with their past. We fully support this process, invite them to talk – in private and in public – and do whatever we can to be helpful for the independent academic research into the history of Wolfgang Frommels circle that has been initiated by Nicole Colin (UvA) and that is supervised by a commission chaired by Rosemarie Buikema. We encourage the heirs of Wolfgang Frommel that are organised in and around the Wolf van Cassel Stichting and the Stichting Memoriaal to do the same.

Questioning Traumatic Heritage

Spaces of Memory in Europe, Argentina, Colombia

In September 2018 the University of Bologna will launch a 4 year EC funded (Horizon2020) project in which Castrum Peregrini joins an exciting consortium of partners:

  • MUSEO DE SITIO ESMA – Ex Centro Clandestino de Detención, Tortura y Exterminio Argentina
  • CASTRUM PEREGRINI The Netherlands


Project Summary

SPEME will develop a joint program of exchanges between academic researchers – working on memory, trauma and heritage – and non-academic professionals – working in the fields of memory museums and sites of memory – between Italy, The Netherlands, Argentina and Colombia.
The fundamental aim of the project is to devise new forms of transmission of traumatic memories linking them to the present, on the assumption that memory, to be effective, has to invent creative ways of becoming relevant to the present. In order to do so, the project will take as its specific object of investigation a various array of spaces of memory, such as museums, former detention camps and sites of commemoration, to investigate how various traumatic pasts can be preserved and transmitted through space, and which kind of innovative actions might both improve knowledge of the past
and serve as an opening to actual issues and new social subjects.
The international and intersectoral network developed by the project will make possible transfers of knowledge, both between difficult past heritages in different historical and geographical contexts (Europe and Latin America) and between academic researchers and museum curators. The different and complementary competences of these institutions will promote something more than a simple knowledge transfer but will fuel powerful knowledge exchanges at the theoretical, methodological and practical levels, which has few or no precedents in the field of memory and museum studies.
Through a rich combination of staff meetings, theoretical seminars, training workshops, fieldworks and conferences, this project will increase competences and skills of both academic and non academic partners, as well as facilitate the development of innovative and creative actions involving new social actors (civil society, new generations, minority groups, refugees, and others) and addressing actual questions, from Human Rights to post-conflict reconciliation.

Heritage Contact Zone

Castrum Peregrini has received funding by the European Comission SUPPORT TO EUROPEAN COOPERATION PROJECTS 2018 to realise a two year project Heritage Contact Zones with 7 partners across Europe: Castrum Peregrini, Amsterdam (NL), Goethe-Institut Lyon (DE), Human Platform Budapest (HU), Etz Hayyim Synagogue Hania (GR),Timisoara European Capital of Culture (RO), European University Institute Florence (IT), Culture Action Europe Brussels (BE).

Heritage Contact Zone (HCZ) recognizes that European History is as much a history of shared cultural accomplishment as it is a history of violence,- violence of wars, colonisation, totalitarian and imperial regimes, religious violence, economic violence leading to social injustice, racial violence and generally the suppression of ‘others’. Based on the work of Aleida Assmann ea. the project partners have formulated the vision that only by recognition of all aspects of history also that of violence, and by actively engaging with those citizens that still suffer exclusion as a consequence of this history being marginalised in mainstream heritage representation, Europe will be able to transgress its impasse and move forward towards more unity. Cultural mediators and artists can play a key role to open up current heritage structures as ‚contact zones‘ towards more inclusive narratives.


EuropeS. The Green Guide to the Perplexed

As an outcome of the fist edition of the Castrum Peregrini Dialogue, a joint initiative of the European Cultural Foundation (ECF) and Castrum Peregrini, we are working on a publication that will take the form of a travel magazine. During the European Cultural Challenge – a two-day advocacy retreat to work on positive change through culture, organised by ECF, taking place in Amsterdam on 15 and 16 May – key contributors of the magazine, 2018 ECF Princess Margriet Award for Culture laureate Krzysztof Czyzewski and guest experts, critically discussed contributions for the Green Guide to the Perplexed, and literally – though in its widest sense – map “Europes” (mental) territories – with its borders, fault lines and promising lands.

Here are some impressions of our meetings:

Adeola Enigbokan, editor of the Green Guide, summarizing a days discussions.

Charl Landvreugd and Wendelien van Oldenborgh in conversation about their contribution to the Green Guide

Quinsy Gario working on a ballad of the perplexed.


Gloria Wekker and Diana Pinto in conversation about a life journey in style.


This work also has a second object in view: It seeks to explain certain obscure figures which occur in the Prophets, and are not distinctly characterized as being figures. Ignorant and superficial readers take them in a literal, not in a figurative sense. Even well informed persons are bewildered if they understand these passages in their literal signification, but they are entirely relieved of their perplexity when we explain the figure, or merely suggest that the terms are figurative. For this reason I have called this book Guide for the Perplexed 

Maimonides, ‘The Guide for the Perplexed’ circa 1190


‘The Negro Motorist Green Book’ was published between 1936 and 1966 to guide African-American car owner who, despite the harsh realities of segregation and racism, decided to travel in the United States of America during the era of Jim Crow laws. The Green Book pointed them to safe places to eat, sleep and refuel, an information that could save them endless trouble and, perhaps, their lives.

Taking inspiration in those 12th and 20th Century references, ‘Europes. The Green Guide to the Perplexed’ will be a one-off magazine, published by Castrum Peregrini and the European Cultural Foundation, designed to share with a broader audience the stimulating intellectual journey that we experienced together in our meetings in 2017.

Perplexity about the state of Europe is what brought us together last year, and we did not get rid of it; rather, we embraced it in our journey together, and we want it to be central to our Magazine. We are imagining this coming publication as a travel magazine which, as this kind of publications does, fulfills the double role of a guidebook –with tips pointing the readers towards interesting features of the shifting European mindscapes, highlights, safe roads, shelters and more – and of an appealing teaser that entices the reader to actually set off on a journey of discovery. The result is meant to be aesthetically appealing and intellectually stimulating in equal measure.  


The launch of the magazine is expected in October 2018.

Reacties op publicatie in Vrij Nederland

In reactie op de publicatie in Vrij Nederland over seksueel misbruik in de kring rond Wolfgang Frommel hebben wij verschillende statements gepubliceerd:

In reaction on the publication in Vrij Nederland on sexual abuse in the circle around Wolfgang Frommel we have published several statements: 

A message to our friends

Reactie op de reconstructie ‘Misbruik in naam van het hogere’ Vrij Nederland – 22 februari 2018

Enkele persoonlijke gedachtes over het verleden en het heden van Castrum Peregrini

Statement Raad van Toezicht

Statement of the Board of Recommendation

Critical Pedagogies at Castrum Peregrini

By Jemima Wilson

On Friday 9th March, our Artist in Residence and senior research lecturer, Renée Turner, hosted 2018’s edition of Critical Pedagogies at Castrum Peregrini for students enrolled in the two-year Master Education in Arts programme at Piet Zwart Institute, an interdisciplinary research programme merging theory and practice. As a current intern at Castrum Peregrini as part of my MA in Arts and Society at Utrecht University, I was lucky to be able to listen in to the day of talks and discussions held in in Gisèle’s studio. With a breadth of teaching experience within (and outside) the mainstream education system and a diverse span of ages and backgrounds, the small group of students brought sharp observations and a supportive atmosphere of creative, critical enquiry. With a morning introduction to The House of Gisèle and Castrum Peregrini’s complex heritage, the afternoon began with Andries Hiskes from Leiden University sharing his PhD research into disability and its affective affordances. Renée’s own ongoing artistic research project based at Castrum Peregrini, The Warp and Weft of Memory, was explored later in the afternoon. Renée was joined by senior lecturer and interdisciplinary research advisor, Professor Frans-Willem Korsten, to moderate the day.

Firstly, Frans welcomed the small group of students with a tour of the two historic apartments within Castrum Peregrini’s building, contextualising the history of the organisation and the setting for a day of critical enquiry. Alongside the story of Gisèle’s eclectic upbringing, Frans explained the intense wartime period where Jewish students hid in Gisèle’s apartment along with their teacher, poet Wolfgang Frommel, and the later establishment of a creative community in 1952. The group were also introduced to Castrum Peregrini’s contemporary artistic programme, including Dutch artist Amie Dicke’s poetic emergency blanket installation, After Goldschmidt (2012). Thinking through other mediums or approaches to contemporary artistic research, sound was raised as an important sensory aspect of hiding, along with the vast collections of books, both of which have inspired work by previous artists in residence.

Prompted by Renée, who is unfolding stories from Gisèle’s wardrobe and letters, Frans told the story of the German’s second raid on the apartment, when an officer decided to make no arrests despite making it clear that the papers provided for the hiders were insufficient. Was he having a good day? Was he pleased to meet a German-speaking household? Did he take a liking to someone? The impact of personal decisions and challenges to the status quo flowed on, in a day that played with ideas around the personal and the societal.

In Gisèle’s ‘Salon’, the top floor apartment she moved to after the war, students keenly observed Gisèle’s own painting in the midst of her collections of natural objects and artefacts. The five-panelled painting, Moira, sparked conversations over organisational links and cultural responsibilities with the painting now owned by Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam with the stipulation that it remains in the house. The students were mesmerised by Gisèle’s multi-panelled painting, Cycladic Ritual, mechanised to enable thirty two different compositions with undulating forms giving way to goddesses and back again, with requests for one last turn! Renée makes the point; Giselle was ¨digital before digital!¨ Indeed, Gisèle herself believed it to the first ‘mobile painting’ of its kind. Semantics, rhythms and connections tumble on throughout the day. With no snow or ice to keep us inside, we venture out onto the roof terrace: here we could see across Amsterdam’s historic rooftops and facades, but we ourselves remained hidden.

Descending to Gisèle’s studio, a glowing, book-filled, gallery-like space, the students settled in a horseshoe formation to begin the more structured element of teaching. Since last yearś Critical Pedagogies day, the context had changed with the recent articles in Vrij Nederland exposing the abuses of power within the building before the death of Wolfgang Frommel in 1986. Discussions turned to the Ancient Greek concept of ‘pedagogical eros’, where love connected students and teachers with both sexual and platonic relationships. They discussed the difference between ethics and morality, and how to address such histories from an ethical perspective. Within a small, intergenerational academic setting, the conversation broached ‘vulnerable topics’ that are often shut down in society; everyone agreed that safe spaces are needed to discuss and challenge societyś constraints. As professor Frans-Willem Korsten reminded us, after all, people are ‘just bodies’, and therefore bring with them embodied complexities.

Bodies then, and those considered disabled or deformed, were the focus of Andries Hiskes presentation of his PHD research. Utilising media, art and literature as resources, Andreis asked his audience to analyse and question  their own responses ‘deviant bodies’ presented in examples including photos used on inclusion flyers (school children in wheelchairs smiling instead of working) , Michelangeloś David (propped up by a tree stump) and Tiny Tim in Dickenś Christmas Carol; ‘God Bless us, Every one’ (every one, but not a homogenous whole). Can we treat students and pupils fairly? Is it possible? And, what, asks Renée, does education lose from its inherent standardisation?

A group of educators in 2018, embarking on two years of critical research, are indeed likely to have thought about inclusion in the classroom, lecture hall or workshop, but Andreis provoked a thorough rethink. ‘What does inclusion mean?’ Andreis asked. An embrace. Those excluded. A whole. A rabbit hole of problems opened up: if, for instance, there is a functioning whole, there is no one outside to make the embrace. We were pointed to the etymology of these terms that proliferate education, the arts and society; in fact, inclusion has roots in ‘confinement’ whilst diversity stems from ‘difference’, ‘contradiction’, ‘disagreement’ and even ‘wicked’ and ‘perverse’. Andreis invited us to read, or to ‘materialise the complexity’ of disability via art and literature, and through this active engagement with our emotional response, allow ourselves to question society’s language, protocols and behaviour. As students observed, the same practice could be applied to colonialism, and my thoughts returned to how we can broach the relevant issue of historic abuse. Nothing is black and white, Andreis states, just as Frans-Willem had earlier suggested that Castrum Peregrini’s heritage should not be reduced to a simple dichotomy of light and dark.

In the afternoon, students got to learn about their tutor’s own artistic research project, The Warp and Weft of Memory. Reading aloud from The Female Perspective, Castrum Peregrini’s publication for the 2017/2018 programme, Renée takes us on a journey into Gisèle’s closet, shows us the private Wiki which serves as a digital sketchbook and conceptual archive as well as unbuttoning a timeless cape that occupies a mannequin in the studio space alongside a red Dick Holthaus dress. Renée is open about her process, including her search for the right voice (in first person? Via letters? Renée as actor? A stranger?) and the recent idea of filming items of clothing, such as heavy skirts spread out, to express the sensory aspects, sound and movement, via digital (flat) means. Renée’s two year process will end in the summer, and so we all, myself included, are reassured that ideas, and experimentation take time.

Renée explains that she is used to writing for online rather than print mediums, and so she heavily edited her words for the printed magazine style publication. Here, unlike the Wiki and its tagging system or semantics developed by Renée and her collaborators, the placing of the images is static. The printed page cannot not express Gisèle’s fluid use of scarves, hats and costumes in her experimentation of performing, posing and painting with herself muse. A large, ornate mirror still occupies the studio space, hung on hinges like a door, and numerous photographs show Gisèle reflected in its glass. Renée references To the Lighthouse and the poetic vestiges of people and actions (like buttoning and unbuttoning) that it signifies. The flatness of the mirror and the digitally scanned black and white archive photographs of Gisèle reflected in that mirror, are again flattened behind glass on Renée’s laptop screen.

 ‘Are you like me, am I like you?’ Renée asks in her writing, and we discuss whether Gisèle preempted that her personal archive, including her closet, would be researched by an artist. Or was her need to classify, to make inventories, the habit of a girl who grew up with servants with a sense of entitlement? A student asks where will Renée’s research go next, and she tells us about moving onto two other archives, with textile objects opening entirely different narratives. The day ended with wine back on the ground floor, connections whirring and questions firing.

On the symposium Diasporic Objects

On conflicted (migration) heritage

By Hanne Buckinx

In research for our future exhibition on conflicted (migration) heritage, the team of Castrum Peregrini attended the Symposium Diasporic Objects at the Research Center for Material Culture in Leiden. The symposium depicts the important role of diasporic objects in connecting, groups and individuals today.

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Guided tour by Charlott Markus

Reflection on the construction of the self after the guided tour by Charlott Markus, curator and artist Some Things Hidden

By José Hopkins

This past March 4th, Charlott Markus guided us through the exhibition “Some Things Hidden”, a collaborative effort between Framer Framed and Castrum Peregrini. This project was composed by two exhibitions or two chapters of the same story – the year program called “The Female Perspectives” curated by Nina Folkersma.

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Statement of the Board of Recommendation

We are troubled by stories about the misuse of people related to Castrum Peregrini decades ago. We therefore support the decision of the present Board of the organization to accept the offer of the University of Amsterdam (Duitsland Instituut) to initiate an independent and transparent research into the history of Castrum Peregrini, including the stories of misuse. This research will be supervised by an independent Academic Committee under the chairmanship of Rosemarie Buikema, professor in Art, Culture and Diversity at the University of Utrecht.

Amsterdam, April 2018

Avrum Burg (chair), Marjan Schwegman, Ronny Naftaniel, Maya Meijer Bergmans, Job Cohen


Enkele persoonlijke gedachtes over het verleden en het heden van Castrum Peregrini

Door Michael Defuster

Februari / Maart 2018

Door publicaties in VN ben ik pijnlijk geconfronteerd met een deel van het verleden van de organisatie, die toen ik de leiding overnam in 1998, bestond uit een Duitstalige Exil Verlag. De slachtoffers uit het VN artikel komen dertig tot veertig jaar na dato naar buiten met hun verhaal, waarin enkele op jonge leeftijd seksueel misbruikt zijn door figuren uit de kring rondom Wolfgang Frommel en daar hun hele leven mee kampten. De berichten hebben mij diep getroffen en ik zal in mijn huidige rol als bestuurder van de stichting Castrum Peregrini doen wat nodig en wenselijk is om ruimte te bieden aan deze verhalen en om de slachtoffers bij te staan. Samen met mijn medebestuurders, Frans Damman en Lars Ebert, voel ik mij moreel verplicht er zorg voor te dragen dat dit verleden grondig onderzocht wordt. De omstandigheden waaronder deze misstanden hebben kunnen plaatsvinden dienen boven water te komen in al hun facetten, zodat er lering en waarheidsvinding uit getrokken kan worden voor het heden en de toekomst.

Omdat mijn naam in het artikel in VN genoemd wordt en ik zelf nog niet aan het woord ben geweest voel ik de behoefte enkele reflecties te delen over mijn verschillende rollen, mijn betrokkenheid door de jaren heen bij Castrum Peregrini en de keuzes die ik gemaakt heb. Ondanks mijn betrokkenheid bij Castrum Peregrini hadden noch ik, noch mijn medebestuurders enige notie van seksueel misbruik dat met Castrum Peregrini in verband wordt gebracht in het artikel van VN. Hopelijk levert dit schrijven een bijdrage aan de beeldvorming.

Mijn belevenis van Castrum Peregrini als vriend

Ik ben zelf in een enigszins rommelig maar liefdevol gezin van zes grootgebracht in België. Liefde betekent voor mij heel veel, zo niet alles. Mijn vriendschappelijke en liefdesrelaties heb ik waarschijnlijk daardoor alle ruimte kunnen geven om zich te ontwikkelen naar welke kant de andere ook maar behoefte had. Door deze laisser-faire houding kan ik bogen op een kleine maar fijne kring van vrienden en twee zeer volwassen en hechte liefdesrelaties.

Ikzelf deed bij Castrum Peregrini mijn entree tijdens de Oudejaarsavondontvangst in 1983 / 1984 bij Gisèle. Vanaf dat moment ontstond een bijzondere dertig jaar durende wederzijdse band tussen haar en mij die tot het einde van haar leven (2013) bleef bestaan.  In de laatste tien jaar van het leven van Gisèle vormde ik samen met Frans Damman en Lars Ebert een kleine familie, waarin wij haar verzorgd hebben. Voor mij was Gisèle de echte geest van het huis aan de Herengracht. Zo hebben ik, Frans en Lars dat ondervonden. Door het vertrouwde en existentiële samenzijn zijn wij diep door haar geïnspireerd geraakt.

Mijn relatie tot Castrum Peregrini verliep via mijn toenmalige Duitse vriend Wolf van Cassel (1946 – 1994), die als twintiger bij Castrum Peregrini terecht was gekomen en die ik in 1983 leerde kennen. Tot aan zijn dood onderhielden wij een liefdevolle relatie. In de tijd die we samenwoonden in een pand aan de Oudezijds Voorbrugwal was de Herengracht ver weg en speelde in mijn leven een minder belangrijke rol. Wolf, onze (kunstenaars-)vrienden en ik hadden daar onze eigen wereld waarin wederzijds respect en creativiteit een grote rol speelden. Ikzelf werkte overdag bij architectenbureaus en studeerde ’s avonds aan de Academie voor Bouwkunst van 1982 tot 1992. Deze jaren met Wolf zijn tot op de dag van vandaag een zeer waardevolle  herinnering voor mij.

Toen ik in 1984 voor het eerst met de Herengracht kennis maakte heerste er chaos: de invloed van de zieke Wolfgang Frommel was tanende en er was grote onenigheid en strijd binnen zijn vriendenkring over zijn geestelijke erfenis. Tussen de jonge mannen en vrouwen van de generatie die de dienst uitmaakten in de uitgeverij Castrum Peregrini, zoals Thomas Karlauf, Christiane Kuby, Wolf en anderen, heersten er ook talloze conflicten, die echter aan mij voorbijgingen, omdat ik in dat rustige huis aan de Oudezijds Voorburgwal woonde en leefde. De Herengracht had in die jaren een alles behalve fijne sfeer om in te vertoeven voor de jonge man van 26 die ik was, op zoek naar de zin van het leven. Gezien de krappe tijd die ik door de combinatie van studie en werk overhield was mijn keuze  tussen beide locaties snel gemaakt. Pas na de dood van Wolf in 1994 ben ik mij professioneel met Castrum Peregrini gaan bezighouden. Ik had toen – en heb nog steeds – de sterke behoefte het vele moois en wezenlijks dat in deze stichting aanwezig is kenbaar te maken en dienstbaar te stellen aan Amsterdam en aan de maatschappij.

Er bestaat een wezenlijk verschil tussen de ervaringen van de slachtoffers en vele andere oudgedienden die genoemd worden in het artikel van VN en mij. Ik heb namelijk voor Wolfgang Frommel nooit bewondering gevoeld; Ik heb nooit een gesprek met hem gehad, nooit lief of leed gedeeld. Voor mij was hij een dementerende man die op bed lag en dag en nacht verzorging nodig had. Voor de adoratie die om zijn persoon heerste heb ik nooit iets gevoeld. Dat past niet bij mijn natuur. Het door Frommel geadopteerde “Dichterstaat” concept van Stefan George vond ik ronduit idioot. De heftige ruzies na de dood van Wolfgang Frommel tussen de zichzelf vrienden noemende mannen en vrouwen, die daarbij elke positieve connotatie van vriendschap om zeep hielpen, heb ik altijd verworpen. 

Omdat ik in die periode kennelijk in staat was mijn eigen autonomie te bewaren, heb ik geen traumatische ervaringen overgehouden aan mijn contact destijds met Castrum Peregrini. Daarin speelde Gisèle een doorslaggevende rol. Wij spraken regelmatig af en zij was voor mij een baken van integriteit en on-compromitteerbaarheid. Ik genoot van de lichtheid die haar omgaf. Ze concentreerde zich op de uitdagingen van het leven en het positieve. Dat maakt haar verhaal en het huis aan de Herengracht zo bijzonder. Zij is voor mij een inspiratiebron en drijfveer geweest om in onze huidige culturele uitingen haar dan ook de plaats te geven die haar toekomt. De mannen die zij decennia lang onderdak heeft geboden, ook diegenen die zij ten tijde van de oorlog het leven redde, hebben haar dat, en dat is schokkend te constateren, niet gegund. De ondankbaarheid van de voormalige onderduikers en hun vrienden ten opzichte van Gisèle is schrijnend teleurstellend. Annet Mooij schrijft hierover uitgebreid in haar nog te verschijnen biografie, waarvoor wij het initiatief hebben genomen, en waarin ook de werkwijze van Frommel cum suis uitgebreid aan de orde zal komen.

Vanaf mijn aantreden als directeur in 1998 heb ik mij ingespannen om de organisatie voor te bereiden op de tijd na het toen nakende verscheiden van de oorlogsgeneratie. Gisèle bijvoorbeeld was toen al 86 jaar oud. Dit was geen gemakkelijke opgave, te midden van de redders en de geredden, met hun vele oorlogstrauma’s en ingesleten reactiepatronen. Pas na het overlijden in januari 2008 van Claus Bock, een van de onderduikers, was het ethisch mogelijk om definitief de structuren en mentaliteit van de organisatie te veranderen. Voordien dreef de organisatie op wat overgebleven was van de persoonlijkheid van Wolfgang Frommel, die een vriendenkring om hem heen had gebouwd die hem tot op de dag van vandaag verheerlijkt, zoals dat bij de Stichting Memoriaal en de Wolf van Cassel Stichting nog altijd het geval is. Deze persoonlijkheidscultus, gedragen door de gedichten en het gedachtengoed van de Duitse dichter Stefan George, vereist haast volledige loyaliteit, zelfs als dit de persoonlijke integriteit zou beschadigen. Dat was voor mij het moeilijkste aspect van de organisatie om te veranderen, maar waarvoor ik in de persoon van Gisèle een sterke natuurlijke medestander had. Ondanks alle eerdere pogingen tot marginalisatie had Gisèle een onaantastbare positie binnen Castrum Peregrini, niet in de laatste plaats vanwege de financiën. Ik wilde radicaal breken met dit verstikkende loyaliteitsmoeras en heb dat voor de goede verstaander heel duidelijk gedaan door Gisèle daar te plaatsen waar ze hoorde, namelijk in het middelpunt van Castrum Peregrini, in plaats van Wolfgang Frommel. Onze kernwaarden Vrijheid, Vriendschap en Cultuur zijn volledig op haar geënt. Was Gisèle er niet geweest dan schreef ik op dit moment niet deze tekst, want dan had Castrum Peregrini voor mij elke betekenis verloren en had ik het al lang vaarwel gezegd.

Mijn belevenis van Castrum Peregrini als medewerker en directeur-bestuurder

Toen midden jaren negentig Wolfgang Frommel’s vriendenkring definitief uit elkaar was gespat en de gemoederen tot bedaren kwamen, en Wolf na een lang ziekbed overleed, begon ik voor het eerst mij professioneel met de zaken van Castrum Peregrini bezig te houden. Toen betrof dat de uitgeverij. Manuel Goldschmidt en Claus Bock, die de leiding hadden over de uitgeverij waren beiden al over de zeventig toen hun gedroomde opvolger na enkele jaren vertrok in onmin. Eerder uit de behoefte hun eigen werkzaamheden stop te kunnen zetten dan uit overtuiging  benoemden ze mij als hun opvolger. Mijn relaties met hen waren eerder functioneel dan vriendschappelijk, op het einde zelfs afstandelijk en conflictueus. De conflicten die ontstonden hadden verschillende redenen. Voor hun wens om de loyaliteitsstructuren en de bijhorende wetmatigheden in stand te houden was ik niet ontvankelijk. Ik verzette ik mij vrij snel tegen hun obscurantistisch, claustrofobische wereldbeeld, die ik altijd als een gevolg van hun oorlogservaringen heb geduid. Manuel en Claus zagen mij als een bedreiging doordat ik het werk en de persoon van de dichter Stefan George als een anachronisme ervoer en zij hem juist als de dragende spil van de uitgeverij en stichting wilden behouden. George’s concept van de ‘Dichterstaat’, de bijna lachwekkend theatrale sublimatie van zijn homoseksualiteit en bovenal zijn visie dat kunst boven de mens staat, klopten niet met mijn overtuiging, met hoe ik vond dat de maatschappij zich na de Tweede Wereldoorlog had ontwikkeld en met het mensbeeld dat mij voor ogen stond. Deze overtuigingen had ik, hoe paradoxaal, juist te danken aan Castrum Peregrini, waarin voor mij  de waarden van Gisèle de maatstaf der dingen waren. En deze zijn juist niet op macht of dwang gebaseerd, maar op het bieden van inspiratie en het scheppen van een omgeving waarin creatieve en intellectuele mensen uitgenodigd worden zich te ontwikkelen en bij te dragen aan een betere, menswaardige wereld. Vandaar onze geuzennaam ‘Intellectual Playground’. In die zin zetten we háár werk verder, en absoluut niet dat van Wolfgang Frommel.

Ik ben een rechtszaak gaan voeren tegen de stichting Wolf van Cassel (Weesp), die de erfenissen van Wolfgang Frommel en Goldschmidt  beheert, om met name het archief van de stichting terug te krijgen, dat door Goldschmidt op dubieuze wijze uit de Herengracht was meegenomen en aan het Letterkundig Museum was overgedragen. Dit archief bevindt zich daar achter slot en grendel. Het bestuur van de Wolf van Cassel Stichting bepaalt wie er wat van mag inzien. Het ging mij erom openheid van dit archief voor nu en de toekomst te verwezenlijken. Immers, transparante, onafhankelijke geschiedschrijving vereist vrije toegang tot historische bronnen – en daarvoor heb ik gestreden. Deze geld verslindende juridische inspanningen, hebben tot mijn grote teleurstelling niet het gewenste resultaat opgeleverd. De trieste uitkomst is dat de erfgenamen hun geschiedenis beïnvloedende greep op de bewijslasten hebben weten te behouden. Daarnaast, minder relevant voor een correcte geschiedschrijving maar wel met grote symboolwerking, waren de verkoop van de Stefan George Bibliotheek, de uitbesteding van de uitgeverij aan Wallstein Verlag, – die nu kritisch wetenschappelijke publicaties over Stefan George en de Frommel kring publiceren -, en het afstoten van het logo ‘de roos’ dat stond voor de uitgeverij en de vriendenkring van het oude Castrum Peregrini. Dit embleem is nu overigens door de Wolf van Cassel stichting overgenomen.

Vervolgens kon ik, met anderen die zich ook aangesproken voelden, een nieuw mission statement formuleren, gebaseerd op de waarden en principes die ertoe hebben geleid dat Gisèle tijdens de nazi-bezetting met gevaar voor eigen leven jongeren jarenlang voor een gewisse dood of gruwelijk lot heeft behoed. We hebben ons bewust geconcentreerd op het oorlogsverleden, en de betekenis van Gisèle, die na de oorlog – zoals dat voor de rol van vrouwen tijdens de oorlog in algemeenheid het geval is – eenvoudigweg door mannen uit de geschiedenisboeken werd weggeschreven.  Uit ons recente programma ‘The Female Perspective’ blijkt hoe belangrijk wij het vinden dit aspect te belichten. Het moge iedereen duidelijk zijn: wij zetten Gisèle’s werk verder, niet dat van Wolfgang Frommel en consorten. Geen enkel rationeel denkend mens zal ons dat kwalijk nemen. Ten overvloede: dat neemt niet weg dat wij opheldering  over het verleden met daarin Wolfgang Frommels rol ten volle ondersteunen.

De rest moge duidelijk zijn. We maken aansprekende programma’s met diepgang waarin we het heden met de kernwaarden van het verleden verbinden en waarmee we willen voorkomen dat we een verstild, gemusealiseerd beeld van het verleden creëren. We hebben verschillende Europese projecten lopen en onderhouden samenwerkingsverbanden met  gerenommeerde instituties en universiteiten in binnen en buitenland. Bijna alle aspecten van de geschiedenis van Castrum Peregrini zijn voor meervoudige interpretatie vatbaar. Dat maakt het juist voor buitenstaanders, zoals kunstenaars en wetenschappers zo aansprekend. De hoofdpersonen waren destijds allemaal complexe persoonlijkheden met talloze lagen die tot de verbeelding spreken. Er komt heel veel samen in het huis aan de Herengracht; zowel waardevolle als verwerpelijke dingen.

De oude vriendenkring van Frommel heeft van meet af aan het huidige team van Castrum Peregrini als buitenstaander bestempeld. Wij kwamen alleen al in deze positie doordat wij hem nooit hebben gekend (vereerd) en omdat de generaties vóór ons teveel met hun eigen problemen en/of machtsaanspraken bezig waren. Geen van hen heeft ons ooit een helpende hand toegestoken om Castrum Peregrini een nieuw leven te geven. Integendeel, ondermijning ervan was ons deel. Tot op de dag van vandaag worden wij door die oude vrienden als ‘verraders’ gezien. Maar wij weten niet wat wij zouden hebben kunnen verraden aan een systeem dat in onze ogen compleet failliet was en waar wij ons niet mee wensten te associëren. Dit sluit juist niet uit dat wij met overtuiging openstaan voor oprechte pogingen van mensen die een minder goede ervaring hadden en in het voeren van een dialoog om in het reine te komen met het moeilijke deel van deze geschiedenis.

Hoe verder?

Voor haar voortreffelijke in 2015 verschenen boek over Andreas Burnier, raadpleegde Elizabeth Lockhorn ook onze archieven. Er is een kleine tekst van mij in haar boek opgenomen waarin ik de positie van het huidige Castrum Peregrini schets als buitenstaander van een verleden waarvan wij, het huidige directiebestuur, persoonlijk geen deel uitmaakten maar waarvoor wij wel een werkwijze hebben ontwikkeld om met het verleden om te gaan, door dit op te nemen in onze programmering en te koppelen aan hedendaagse thema’s. Het is ons niet raadzaam gebleken om ‘partij’ te kiezen in de strijd tussen diegenen die dit verleden als zeer positief hebben ervaren – zij vormen de meerderheid – en zij die hun ervaringen als traumatisch ervaren. Voor ons was en is dat een strijd die de betreffende generaties onderling zelf moesten uitvechten. Wij hebben een eigen stichting opgericht met eigen waarden en levensbeschouwingen. Wij, de huidige stichting Castrum Peregrini, leven met de slachtoffers mee, willen hen erkennen en betrachten volledige transparantie. Daarom steunen wij bijvoorbeeld onderzoek naar dat verleden. Daarvoor dient de hele geschiedenis van Castrum Peregrini als onderwerp genomen te worden. Wij zijn in onze pogingen om het verleden open te benaderen blij met iedere medestander. Wij zijn klein en beperkt in onze middelen en kunnen ieder steun gebruiken.

Al meerdere jaren, vanaf het verschijnen van Elisabeth Lockhorn’s boek en de te boek gestelde herinneringen aan Wolfgang Frommel van Joke Haverkorn (2013), zijn wij in onze programmering begonnen met actief ruimte te bieden aan het verwerken van het negatieve verleden van Castrum Peregrini: een colloquium (2013) waarin Joke Haverkorn’s boek centraal stond, een film over Herengracht 401 (2016), de kritische biografie van Gisèle door Annet Mooij (2018) e.a. Deze activiteiten zijn onlangs uitgebreid met een wetenschappelijke commissie die het verleden van Castrum Peregrini in de komende jaren zal onderzoeken.  Elke vorm van bijdrage – in de vorm van publicaties, evenementen, werkgroepen etc.. – zullen door ons worden geapprecieerd.

Het dubbelzinnige politiek verleden van Wolfgang Frommel is uit andere publicaties reeds langer bekend. Dit is door ons ook nooit ontkend. Het seksueel misbruik verhaal echter kwam als een schok. Hiervan wisten we niets, hadden we nog nooit over gehoord. De getroffenen hadden ook nooit met ons contact opgenomen. De eerste publicatie over pedofilie van Frank Ligtvoet op Huffington Post in februari 2017 was inhoudelijk en taalkundig moeilijk te begrijpen. Het artikel is na enkele weken van het internet gehaald. Toen volgde het online artikel bij VN in juli 2017 waarin het moeilijk was suggesties van feiten te scheiden. Sindsdien hebben wij wel vele gesprekken gevoerd met de getuigen die ons bekend zijn om opheldering te krijgen. Wij hebben moeten wachten tot de publicatie van Vrij Nederland op donderdag 22 februari jl. om de ware toedracht van alle gevallen te kennen, want ook op onze actieve navraag bij VN werd dat ons eerder onthouden.

Ik kan oprecht meevoelen met het lijden onder schuldgevoelens en met de fysieke en psychische pijn dat uitvoerig word beschreven in de artikelen. Dat is vreselijk. Ik geef toe dat ik het er moeilijk mee heb wanneer volwassenen hun eigen autonomie uit handen geven. Verwarrend en onduidelijk voor mij zijn de gevallen van Lodewijk (pseudoniem) en Paul Visser. Bij navraag over de laatste is overigens niemand binnen de oude Castrum Peregrini kring op de hoogte van zijn betrokkenheid bij de toenmalige vriendenkring. Niettemin zijn deze gevallen onverminderd schrijnend en verdienen ook alle medeleven en steun. Het is beschamend dat de plegers verbonden waren met de vriendenkring van Wolfgang Frommel. Het gaat echter te ver om te suggereren dat de kostschool Beverweerd, waar misbruik plaatsvond, in alle gevallen linea recta terug te voeren is op Castrum Peregrini. Mijns inziens moet hier zorgvuldigheid worden betracht. Wij hebben intussen contact opgenomen met het Genootschap der Vrienden (de Quackers in Nederland), die in het verleden van de school een vaste voet hadden in haar bestuur. Wij hadden met Lodewijk en Christiane Kuby afzonderlijk in februari 2018 een afspraak tot gesprek staan. Deze is echter op het laatste moment afgezegd. Wij kunnen ons voorstellen dat zij tijd nodig hebben en plannen het gesprek graag in zodra het voor hen zinvol is.

Wij gaan mogelijk samen met het Genootschap der Vrienden (Quackers), dat bij de kostschool betrokken was, beraden hoe en welke stappen wij zullen nemen om met slachtoffers in gesprek te komen. Het lijkt ons ook raadzaam dat slachtoffers zich voor begeleiding gaan richten aan de in Nederland opererende professionele instanties die echt onafhankelijk en professioneel zijn. Door professionals te betrekken kan misschien zelfs echt healing plaats vinden.

Tot slot, de contacten  met Frank Ligtvoet van de laatste maanden werden op afstand via email gevoerd. Wij willen hem graag spreken en hebben dat ook herhaaldelijk aangegeven. Wij respecteren evenwel zijn keuze om dat af te houden en hebben tegelijkertijd zijn vragen per e-mail, die overigens voornamelijk data gerelateerd waren, beantwoord voor zover ons dat mogelijk was. Niettemin lijkt ons een gesprek met hem momenteel het allerbelangrijkste en hopen dat hij aan onze vraag gehoor zal geven.

A message to our friends

You may have read the Vrij Nederland article of 22 February. Please read our  reaction on that article here and more broadly on our ABOUT page. We are shocked by the stories from VN. Our empathy and support go out to all those affected, the victims and their loved ones.

We want to share some personal thoughts, all of them connected to the question: how further?

This is for us a really existential moment in time. When we started with a ‘new’ Castrum Peregrini, more than 10 years ago, the ‘ancien regime’ had left us a dusty ruin. Wolfgang Frommel died in 1986 and his obscure circle had since disintegrated in rear-guard fighting. Gisèle was the one that stood as a rock of integrity in the swamps of loyalty. Meeting her and living with her sparked our enthusiasm to build something new and broadly relevant on her values, those values that had made her take in Frommel and his Jewish pupils during Nazi occupation, to dedicate her life to the arts, to use her means for the support of her friends and others in need. We realised that Frommel and his circle had always profited from Gisèle and yet have always side-lined her, to say the least. There was justice to be done. We not only felt we had to care for her as a person but also put our focus on her life and work in our activities. When the remaining circle of Wolfgang Frommels friends – with the former director of Castrum Peregrini in the initiative –  hijacked (literally!) the archive and put a lock on it we conducted a law suit for years to get it back and open it up for scholars. Openly writing history is only possible with open archives. Also, we abandoned the old logo of Castrum that symbolised the circle of Wolfgang Frommel and his publishing house. We outsourced the latter to a German publisher that would secure free and critical history writing. It was of more symbolic value to give away the George library. We have organised symposia about the problematic sides of Castrum Peregrini, have supported the critical documentary Herengracht 401 by Janina Pigaht (very worthwhile seeing!) and after Gisele’s death we initiated a critical and independently written biography of Gisèle which will be published at the Bezige Bij in September 2018. In it, Annet Mooij will also pay critical attention to the phenomenon of Frommel. We have nevertheless not been aware of any sexual abuse of minors! 

Frommel feels like a dark vortex – his presence is still a spectre, absent but palpable. Frommel was someone who wielded power through his cult of personality, ironically from the security of a small apartment. These are things to be discussed – difficult as they may be. Nowadays, we want history to be clean, like our super hero movies, where good and bad are clearly demarcated.  But of course there is always complexity. The question is how to speak about norms slowly adjusting and aberrant behaviour made possible through the subtle changing of a “social or collective temperature”. These are themes we must speak about connecting the past to present. We do this in our programming, but now there is an explicit link to the house. Understanding the house’s shadows, making them transparent, might bring light to the present and even become a beacon to the future. 

Last year, we have set up a research commission chaired by Rosemarie Buikema who wants to stimulate and supervise research about the history of Castrum Peregrini, and this might require different forms of scholarship and sensitivities – for example those versed in Holocaust studies, gender studies, sexual abuse, trauma, or those who grasp the dynamics of cults. Whatever is required, we will bring that scholarship on board. Castrum Peregrini wants to critically interrogate the past in order to learn from it, heal, do better and build a more compassionate future. This kind of approach is urgent in the present, not only for Castrum Peregrini, but for our society as a whole.

Somehow this moment, no matter how painful, is an opportunity to think about the past and present in more complex ways. Thinking about the term “foundation”, which Castrum Peregrini is, we believe we should take this head on, not to contain the past but instead struggle with it towards the future. Many museums grapple with collections acquired through colonialization, or decimation of indigenous people, Nazi acquisitions, slave trade and they have to find ways of talking about those legacies. Castrum Peregrini will seek advice from spaces that have experience in dealing with abuse. We will be making regular updates on our website that reflect Castrum Peregrinis’ searching for itself, and the reconciliation with the past both good (and there is plenty that is good) and bad and moreover, how we’re moving forward.

As a first step we focus our attention and our empathy on the victims that have been speaking up to find appropriate support in their coming to terms with trauma. It is of utmost importance that these stories come out.

We hope you can appreciate our thoughts that reflect a state of introspection and self-investigation rather than a clear answer. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you have questions or want to speak,- or if you have advise or ideas!

Frans, Lars, Michael

Statement Raad van Toezicht

De Raad van Toezicht van de stichting Castrum Peregrini (RvT) heeft met afschuw kennis genomen van berichten in Vrij Nederland over misbruik dat in het verleden heeft plaatsgevonden in de kring rondom Wolfgang Frommel. De RvT houdt nauw contact met het bestuur van de stichting Castrum Peregrini en wordt door het bestuur voortdurend geïnformeerd over de contacten met alle betrokkenen. Dit geldt andersom evenzeer. De RvT benadrukt dat zij zich volledig schaart achter de opstelling en de acties van het bestuur, in deze voor iedereen, maar vooral voor de slachtoffers in de eerste plaats, pijnlijke en betreurenswaardige kwestie.

Namens de Raad van Toezicht, dhr. Jan Rozenbroek (voorzitter)

Reactie op de reconstructie ‘Misbruik in naam van het hogere’ Vrij Nederland – 22 februari 2018

In Vrij Nederland van 22 februari jl. verscheen een reconstructie gepubliceerd onder de titel  ‘Misbruik in naam van het hogere’, dat als een vervolg kan worden beschouwd op het eerder op de site van VN gezette stuk van Frank Ligtvoet over ‘misbruik in de kring rond Wolfgang Frommel’, die medeoprichter was van Castrum Peregrini.

Afgelopen november hebben wij zelf contact gezocht met de redactie en aangegeven beschikbaar te zijn voor ‘hoor / wederhoor’ indien ze zouden werken aan een vervolgstuk. In januari vond een ruim twee uur durend interview met Frans Damman namens Castrum Peregrini plaats en de uitermate korte weerslag daarvan staat in deze reconstructie. Enkele dagen voor verschijnen kregen wij te horen dat de publicatie er aankwam. Buiten een paar korte eigen citaten, was ons de tekst van dit stuk op voorhand niet bekend. Gelukkig heeft een aantal van onze uitspraken het wel tot de definitieve tekst gehaald:

Wij als huidig team Castrum Peregrini hebben al meer dan een decennium geleden afstand genomen van Wolfgang Frommel, zijn vriendenkring en van zijn bijbehorende gebruiken en gedachtengoed die in de jaren ’50 – ’80 een belangrijke stempel drukte op het toenmalige Castrum Peregrini. In dit decennium is het huidige Castrum Peregrini een compleet andere koers gaan varen dan tot die tijd gangbaar was.

Wij kozen voor wat wij belangrijk vonden bij de figuur Gisèle en namen haar oorspronkelijke uitgangspunt voor ons als leidraad, namelijk de motivatie om haar appartement ter beschikking te stellen voor vervolgden. Daarentegen vertegenwoordigde Frommel een gedachtegoed waarin wij ons niet herkenden, namelijk één waarin het interbellum domineerde en een dichtersstaat centraal stond. Zijn Duitstalige uitgeverij in exil had haar functie vervuld. Tegelijkertijd wilden wij ook zijn geschiedenis belichten en voerden daarom o.a. een rechtzaak met zijn erfgenamen om zijn archief zonder restricties toegankelijk te maken.

In dit meest recente stuk staan twee getuigenissen van voormalige scholieren van kostschool Beverweerd die zijn misbruikt door leraren, op school of op vakantie met hun leraren.  De situatie die Nanne Dekking  overkomt speelde zich af in het huis waar Frank Ligtvoet met zijn vrienden woonde aan de Prinsengracht, – zonder dat de redactie duidelijk erbij vermeldt dat dit NIET het huis van Castrum Peregrini betrof.

Ten slotte komt ook Christiane Kuby uitgebreid aan het woord, als enige een voormalige bewoonster van Castrum Peregrini aan de Herengracht die niet over seksueel misbruik spreekt, maar over machtsmisbruik en de sektarisch aandoende situatie in huis in de jaren ‘70 die het voor haar moeilijk maakte daarvan los te komen. Tegelijk citeert ze hier Andreas Burnier die over het CP in de jaren ’50/’60 schreef  ‘….en toch was het er fijn’.

Ofwel we het van groot belang vinden dat deze verhalen naar boven komen en dat er een podium voor de slachtoffers komt, hebben we kritiek op de werkwijze van de redacteuren van het artikel in VN.

Het misbruik dat met name de twee voormalige scholieren is overkomen tijdens hun jaren op kostschool Beverweerd is ronduit afschuwelijk en verwerpelijk. Echter, ten onrechte wordt de indruk gewekt dat de kostschool Beverweerd en Castrum Peregrini met elkaar verbonden waren. Niets is minder waar.

De twee organisaties hadden niets met elkaar van doen. De vraag rijst hoezo de redacteuren geen enkele poging hebben ondernomen om de situatie op die kostschool te onderzoeken, terwijl juist daar veel naar boven kan komen over het beschreven misbruik. Er wordt in het artikel vermeld dat een van de slachtoffers bij de directie van de school zijn beklag doet die daar vervolgens niets mee doet. Waarom zijn de redacteuren van VN hier niet verder op ingegaan? Onderaan staat in de voetnoot dat de ‘Engelse leraar’ niet opspoorbaar was. De naam is bij de redactie bekend, een eenvoudige search op Google levert zijn contactgegevens op.

Eén van de plegers van de school, de muziekpedagoog William Hilsley, was een jeugdvriend van Wolfgang Frommel. Alhoewel hun vriendschap tot Frommels dood in 1986 is blijven bestaan leefden ze allebei in zeer verschillende constellaties en organisaties. Suggereren dat daarmee de school en Castrum Peregrini identiek zijn is een guilty-by-association beschuldiging. Er worden geen bewijzen geleverd. Frommel had in de periode ’50 –’80 geen band met de school. Voor- en in het begin van de oorlog gaf hij er lezingen, kende er de scholieren en leraren, en haalde hij, tegen de wens van de toenmalige schooldirectie in, de Joodse Claus en Buri van school weg om ze bij Gisèle te laten onderduiken. Na de oorlog kwam hij er nog maar sporadisch, bij voorbeeld ter gelegenheid van een eindejaarsvoorstelling door Hilsley georganiseerd.

Dezelfde guilty-by-association benadering geldt voor de suggestie dat Michael Defuster van dit alles op de hoogte zou moeten zijn geweest. Dat is niet het geval. De misbruikverhalen waren voor ons net zo nieuw als ze voor de meeste lezers van VN zijn. Voor de in het artikel gemelde misbruikgevallen geldt dat ze bijna 40 jaar geleden hebben plaatsgevonden, elders dan op de Herengracht en pas nu naar buiten komen. Michael is zich pas in 1994 actief met de stichting gaan bezig houden, dat is flink later. De betrokkenen die in deze reconstructie getuigen, hebben zich in al die tussenliggende decennia nooit bij ons gemeld.

We zijn met bijna iedereen die in dit artikel genoemd wordt in contact. Frank Ligtvoet en Nanne Dekking zijn sinds juli vorig jaar uitgenodigd met ons een afspraak te maken, of met de Wetenschappelijke Research Commissie die we hebben aangesteld of met het meldpunt, de contactpersonen van De Vertrouwenspersoon.

Michael Defuster, Lars Ebert en Frans Damman – directie Castrum Peregrini



Veelgestelde vragen


Wij zijn na lezing van het artikel overweldigd door de hoeveelheid informatie. Uit eerste reacties die ons bereiken blijkt dat voor sommigen de reconstructie makkelijker te lezen valt door toelichting te geven op enkele vragen die opkomen:


Hebben jullie een Meldpunt voor slachtoffers?

Wij hebben twee vertrouwenspersonen op onze website vermeld met directe contactgegevens voor mogelijke slachtoffers die niet zelf naar de media kunnen of durven te stappen om bij hen hun verhaal te doen. De Vertrouwenspersoon is een gecertificeerde organisatie die de Arbosociale verplichting invult voor organisaties om haar medewerkers en netwerk een professionele melddesk te bieden voor grensoverschrijdend gedrag, desgewenst anoniem.  


Wat heeft Gisèle over misbruik geweten? Zou haar ‘wegkijken’ kunnen worden verweten?

Het is ons niet bekend dat zij zou hebben ‘weggekeken’. De verhouding tussen de vriendenkring rond Wolfgang Frommel (1902-1986) en Gisèle (1912-2013) was gecompliceerd. Ze leefden in gescheiden werelden in hetzelfde pand, de overlap tussen deze twee werelden complex. Biografe Annet Mooij zal in haar in september 2018 te verschijnen biografie over Gisèle nog uitgebreid aandacht besteden aan haar positie binnen Castrum Peregrini en aan dit eventuele wegkijken van haar.  


Wat is Castrum Peregrini?

Castrum Peregrini is een stichting (in tegenstelling tot genootschap) en kent geen leden. Het begrip ‘leden’ wordt in dit artikel gebruikt voor vrienden (en vrienden van vrienden) van Wolfgang Frommel, medeoprichter van Castrum Peregrini.

Het verleden van Castrum Peregrini kent vele aspecten. De vriendenkring van Wolfgang Frommel (1902-1986) was één aspect. Ver voor deze misbruik onthullingen hebben wij van deze kring en de door hen opgerichte gelijknamige uitgeverij ondubbelzinnig afstand gedaan, meer dan 10 jaar geleden.

Het leven en werk van Gisèle is een ander aspect van Castrum Peregrini, het onderduik adres Castrum Peregrini tijdens de oorlog weer een ander,- alle verschijningsvormen hebben ook nog eens vele zijlijnen. Welke hoedanigheid van Castrum Peregrini je bekijkt is een kwestie van perspectief.

Lees hier meer over onze geschiedenis.

Zie hier een tijdsbalk die de verschillende fases in de geschiedenis van Castrum Peregrini markeert.


Wanneer is het huidige directie team bij Castrum Peregrini betrokken geraakt? 

Huidig directeur van Castrum Peregrini Michael Defuster kwam voor het eerst 1984 bij Castrum Peregrini, toen Wolfgang Frommel dementerend was en op bed werd verpleegd. Op p. 62 (VN van 22 Februari) staat dat Frank Ligtvoet zich in 1982 ‘aan de groep heeft ontworsteld.’ Voorts wordt op pag. 71 gesteld dat Michael Defuster in ‘zijn [Frank Ligtvoet ’s] tijd volwaardig lid was van de kring’. Deze opmerking is onjuist.

Michael werkt vanaf 1994 bij de stichting en werd in 1998 directeur. Onder zijn leiding is een grondige reorganisatie in gang gezet; de stichting met als voornaamste activiteit de exil uitgeverij was van geen relevantie meer voor de samenleving, ademde slechts na-ijlende gebruiken van lang geleden. De tradities rond de vriendenkring van Frommel werden stopgezet, de uitgeverij uitbesteed, de Stefan George bibliotheek verkocht en jarenlang een rechtszaak gevoerd waarvan het doel was de openheid van het Frommel-archief te waarborgen om het mogelijk te maken voor onderzoekers om de gehele geschiedenis van Castrum Peregrini te kunnen schrijven. Lees hier een uitgebreide reflectie van Michael.

Lars Ebert loopt in 1999 stage bij Castrum Peregrini en is in 2002 vanuit Duitsland naar Amsterdam verhuist. Sindsdien leeft hij in Castrum Peregrini en is hij ook werkzaam voor de stichting.

Frans Damman loopt in 1995 stage bij Castrum Peregrini en is vanaf 2010 werkzaam voor het gereorganiseerde Castrum Peregrini. Toen de verpleging van Gisèle 24 uur aanwezigheid vereiste verhuist hij in 2011 naar Castrum Peregrini.


Bestaat de vriendenkring rond Wolfgang Frommel nog? Wie beheert zijn erfenis?

Stichting Memoriaal is vandaag het formele platform voor de ‘oude’ vrienden van Wolfgang Frommel, met wie het huidige Castrum Peregrini al meer dan 10 jaar alle banden heeft verbroken. Het oude symbool van de vriendenkring wordt tevens door het boekenfonds De Roos gebruikt, gefinancierd door de Wolf van Cassel Stichting, die ook de wettelijke erfgenaam van Wolfgang Frommel is.


Wat is de relatie tussen kostschool Beverweerd, eerst ‘Internationale Quaker School Eerde’ en Castrum Peregrini?

Hier zijn enkele misinterpretaties opgetreden in het artikel van VN. De schijn wordt gewekt dat Castrum Peregrini en kostschool Beverweerd één geheel zijn of een verbinding met elkaar hebben. Dit is onjuist. Er bestaat geen relatie tussen de internationale kostschool en de toenmalige uitgeverij en huidige stichting Castrum Peregrini aan de Herengracht in Amsterdam.

Voor de oorlog bezocht Frommel kostschool Eerde regelmatig en gaf er enkele lezingen. De onderduikers van Castrum Peregrini van het 1e uur, Claus en Buri, zaten vanaf  eind jaren dertig, vlak voor WOII uitbrak, tot 1942 op de Internationale Quakerschool Eerde, tot Frommel er voor zorgde dat ze bij Gisèle konden onderduiken. Frommel verlaat Nederland na de oorlog. Na zijn terugkeer in ’52 bleef zijn contact beperkt tot een bezoek aan de jaarlijkse eindejaarsopvoering.

Hebben jullie overwogen om een nieuwe naam te kiezen en zo te laten zien dat je een streep wilt zetten onder het verleden? 

Ja, dat hebben we wel overwogen en uitgebreid met focusgroepen en experts besproken. Uiteindelijk was de keuze duidelijk: we beschouwen de geuzennaam Castrum Peregrini, de schuilnaam van Gisèle’s appartement tijdens ’42 – ‘45, een plek waar mensenlevens zijn gered, nog altijd als de juiste naam die past bij dit huis.

Van het oude logo echter, de Castrum Peregrini Roos, die symbool stond voor de vriendenkring rond Wolfgang Frommel en die met de gelijknamige uitgeverij Castrum Peregrini was verbonden hebben we bewust afstand gedaan toen wij in 2007/2008 een nieuwe invulling aan stichting Castrum Peregrini hebben gegeven.

Wat gebeurt er nu aan onafhankelijk onderzoek?

Castrum Peregrini wil de misbruikgeschiedenis niet marginaliseren  zoals in het VN artikel op p.71 wordt gesuggereerd en zet met haar onderzoekscommissie erop in ‘het systeem Frommel’ met een centrale rol voor de pedagogische eros en misbruik historisch kritisch en onafhankelijk in kaart te brengen. Dit is uiteraard iets anders dan voor de slachtoffers er zijn. De wetenschappelijke commissie gaat onafhankelijk haar gang. Ook steunen wij haar waar mogelijk. Zij zal cultuurhistorisch onderzoek coördineren naar het verleden van Castrum Peregrini. Seksueel en/of machts-misbruik en andere negatieve uitwassen moeten worden uitgezocht, beschreven en gepubliceerd. De onderzoeksgroep is momenteel met fondsenwerving bezig. We gaan de komende maanden de doelstellingen van de onderzoekscommissie aanscherpen met de mogelijkheid voor inspraak van slachtoffers. De onderzoekscommissie zal zich beraden (met de parallel ingestelde vertrouwenspersoon/meldpunt e.a.) op een strategie om in contact te treden met betrokkenen om hen in te kunnen binden in het proces.

We hebben in het verleden onafhankelijk onderzoek gesteund zoals de documentaire van Janina Pigaht (2016) waarin Christiane Kuby voor het eerst naar buiten trad over haar moeilijke proces van losmaking van de Herengracht. In 2013, vlak na het verschijnen van Joke Haverkorn’s gepubliceerde herinneringen aan Wolfgang Frommel hebben we een dagsymposium georganiseerd met een uitgebreid interview.

Aan Annet Mooij hebben we de opdracht gegeven om de biografie over Gisèle’s leven te schrijven waarvoor we ook de gelden hebben geworven Die biografie verschijnt in september 2018

En ondanks dat wij natuurlijk geen onderzoekers zijn, uiteraard hebben wij voor zover we in contact zijn met oud-bewoners of nauw betrokkenen van de Herengracht 401 navraag gedaan. Niemand heeft zich bij ons als slachtoffer benoemd.  Niemand heeft zich ook bij ons als zodanig gemeld.

Waar kan ik meer lezen?

Er bestaat goede (al dan niet fragmentarische) literatuur om het fenomeen van de pedagogische eros in de kring om Stefan George en Wolfgang Frommel te begrijpen. Zie de (niet uitputtende) literatuurlijst op onze website. Hierin zijn ook publicaties opgenomen waarin in al het verleden tijdgenoten aan het woord komen zoals Christiane Kuby en Joke Haverkorn.


Heeft het misbruikverhaal impact op het progammering van Castrum Peregrini?

Het verleden van Castrum Peregrini was sinds 2007 al de uitgangsbasis voor onze programmering en zal dat ook blijven. Dus ook dit aspect van onze geschiedenis zal zijn weerslag vinden in ons programma. Misbruik echter is zo’n  serieus onderwerp dat wij de tijd nemen om de juiste vorm ervoor te vinden. Wij hopen intussen in de komende weken en maanden een forum voor de slachtoffers van de kring rond Wolfgang Frommel te kunnen bieden wat hen, zo dat überhaupt mogelijk is, verlichting biedt. Over de juiste vorm hen een stem te geven beraden wij ons op het ogenblik met individuen, experts en partnerorganisaties en staan voor alle hulp en advies dankbaar open. De uitnodiging om met ons te spreken herhalen wij van harte.

The Female Perspective

Highlights of The Female Perspective Programme 2017/2018

‘The Female Perspective is not so much about the question of what the female perspective is, but rather about what we can learn when we listen to women’s stories.’

Castrum Peregrini proudly presents the one-off magazine The Female Perspective. The magazine is published on the occasion of The Female Perspective programme 2017/2018, curated by Nina Folkersma, as part of the cultural activities programme Memory Machine by Castrum Peregrini. The magazine is edited in collaboration with Mister Motley.

The focal point of The Female Perspective programme was Castum Peregrini’s founder Gisèle van Waterschoot van der Gracht, as patron, artist and woman. Gisèle’s story continues to be a source of inspiration for artists, writers and intellectuals today. In 2017/2018, the cultural activities of Castrum Peregrini zoomed in on the ‘womanhood’ of Gisèle and her role and position as a woman in a group of male friends, in relation to currents issues around female identity, feminism and gender. What was, and what is, the significance of women in resistance movements? What can we learn from feminist theory when thinking about cultural diversity and inclusiveness? How can we bend the existing frameworks of female identity and gender?

The Female Perspective consisted of a series of exhibitions, performances, artist talks and lectures. Participating artists and contributors included Mieke Bal, Alexis Blake, Katerina Gregos, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Annet Mooij, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Renée Turner and many more.


The magazine contains material that reflects The Female Perspective’s activities over the year 2017 and 2018. There are contributions from almost exclusively female artists, thinkers, writers and academics. These contributions include, amongst others, essays by Adeola Enigbokan, Marjan Schwegman and Christel Vesters; interviews with Mieke Bal and Katerina Gregos; and artists contributions by Patricia Kaersenhout, Ronit Porat and Pieter Paul Pothoven.

The magazine also contains an exhibition guide to Some Things Hidden, an exhibition in two parts that took place in Castrum Peregrini from 18 to 26 November 2017 and has its second chapter in Framer Framed from 19 January to 11 March 2018. The Some Things Hidden part of the magazine is focused on the exhibition concept and the participating artists, with texts based on interviews by Lietje Bauwens. The artists in Some Things Hidden are: Hélène Amouzou, Alexis Blake, Sara Blokland, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Zhana Ivanova, Bertien van Manen, Charlott Markus, Shana Moulton, Femmy Otten, Marijn Ottenhof, Cauleen Smith and Batia Suter.

The magazine is available from 18th January 2018 at Castrum Peregrini and at Framer Framed during the exhibition Some Things Hidden.

15 – 17 December Women + Craft + Poetry

Artists Weekend: Women + Craft + Poetry

Fri 15 Dec – Sun 17 Dec 2017

You are cordially invited to our second Artists Weekend: a weekend full of artist talks, presentations, conversations and poetry readings, from Friday December 15 till Sunday December 17 in Castrum Peregrini. The Artists Weekend is part of our 2017 year programme The Female Perspective, curated by Nina Folkersma. This programme focuses on issues around female identity, feminism and gender, both in relation to the historical context of Castrum Peregrini and its founder Gisèle, and to current events.

The 2nd Artist Weekend is devoted to Women + Craft + Poetry. Guests of honor are two of our artists-in-residence, Aimée Zito Lema and Renée Turner. At their invitation, and in dialogue with curator Nina Folkersma, various artists, curators, writers, weavers and poets are invited to present their work and ideas.


Friday, Dec 15   20:00 – 22:00

Introduction Nina Folkersma

Lecture Christel Vesters – Some notes on women, labour and textile craft

Triggered by two unrelated news items about textiles, writer and curator Christel Vesters embarks on an expedition, looking for a common thread that may connect the two. Her explorations touch upon particular events and ideas in the history of textile production, utopian socialism, the Arts & Crafts Movement and the women’s movement, juxtaposing some key moments in those histories with examples from contemporary artist practices.


Saturday, Dec 16     14:00 – 18:00

Conversations + presentations

Renée Turner, Joke Haverkorn van Rijsewijk and Kate Briggs 

Narrative and weaving are often associated with each other through the metaphors we use. Join us for a day of presentations and discussions that look at weaving as a hands-on craft and its relation to the act of writing. Renée Turner will talk about her research project The Warp and Weft of Memory and have a conversation with Joke Haverkorn van Rijsewijk about her work at the weaving studio De Uil (The Owl), where she made monumental tapestries for Gisèle and other artists. On view will be some of the images from De Uil and a few of the woven artefacts from Gisèle’s collection. Kate Briggs, author of the recently published book This Little Art, will be drawing analogies between weaving and the processes of writing, translating and storytelling.

Drinks + Fingerfood by Mina Abouzahra

Entrance fee: 5 euro (incl. drinks & snacks)

Make sure you have a seat reserved and RSVP:


Sunday, Dec 17    14:00- 18:00

Readings + conversations

Aimée Zito Lema, Becket Mingwen, Iva Supic Jankovic and School der Poëzie

Aimée Zito Lema

Aimée Zito Lema

This afternoon Aimée Zito Lema will introduce her residency project and research on friendship as a form of resistance. Thinking of the house (of Gisèle) as the most intimate and private kind of archive, connected to daily life experiences, she will read one of the transcripts of her conversations on friendship. The afternoon will continue with a presentation and poetry reading by visual artist Becket Mingwen. Becket’s text responds to politics and friendship as mirrors of each other – the same pitfalls and promises reflected between the interpersonal and the public. For the presentation at Castrum Peregrini, he will engage these ideas with Zito Lema’s project by discussing the role of friendship in the making of art, allies, and enemies, while exploring many of the ambiguities between them. Iva Supic Jankovic will present a musical performance called House on the Water. Music is a very intimate part of Jankovic’s work- sharing such work within this specific context allows a certain degree of vulnerability and intimacy that is hard to find in a regular art space context. The afternoon will end with poetry readings by teenage students from the School of Poetry, presenting the outcomes of their workshop organized by Zito Lema in collaboration with Dasja Koot.


Drinks + Fingerfood by Mina Abouzahra

Entrance fee: 5 euro (incl. drinks & snacks)

Make sure you have a seat reserved and RSVP:



Mina Abouzahra studied at the Wood and Furniture School in Amsterdam. She has a passion for wood, textiles, copper and marble. A red thread in her life is the combination of different cultures. With the same attitude, Mina was active in the world of food; she wrote recipes, developed food concepts, organized pop-up restaurants and produced with Merijn Tol (Arabia) the cookbook Proef! Orange blossom, the new Moroccan cuisine. The designs of Abouzahra are surprising and colorful, and inspired by a continuous search for new combinations of materials, shapes and production methods. Mina Abouzahra travels every few months to Morocco for inspiration and to search for old, rare and beautiful things she can import, both for her shop and for clients directly.

Kate Briggs is the translator of two volumes of Roland Barthes’s lecture and seminar notes at the Collège de France: The Preparation of the Novel and How to Live Together, both published by Columbia University Press. This Little Art, a long narrative essay on the practice of translation, was published by Fitzcarraldo Editions in September 2017. She teaches on the MFA in Fine Art at the Piet Zwart Institute Rotterdam.

Joke Haverkorn van Rijsewijk is a weaver and writer. With Nenne Koch in 1956, she founded the weaving studio De Uil in Amsterdam. Their first commission was for a tapestry by Gisèle van Waterschoot van der Gracht for the SS Statendam, and later four more tapestries for the clubroom of the S.S. Rotterdam. Haverkorn van Rijsewijk has recently written an essay, ‘Living and Love in Image’ (Leven en liefde verbeeld), reflecting on a tapestry she made based on an image by the German Expressionist August Macke.

Becket Mingwen received his MFA from the University of Southern California in 2014, and was recently a resident at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam, NL. Recent exhibitions include  “n <o> <o> n” at One Gee in Fog, Geneva; “From Concrete to Liquid to Spoken Words to the World” at Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève. His book on Chris Kraus’ 1996 “Chance Event” is forthcoming from Athénée Press.

School der Poëzie, School of Poetry, offers lessons to children and young people to get them acquainted with poetry, writing and performing their own poems. Tailor-made programs and lessons for schools and institutions. The ‘School der Poëzie’ derives its name from the collection of poet Herman Gorter (1897) and a famous poem by Lucebert (1952).

Iva Supic Jankovic, visual artist (born in Croatia), studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie and received a Master degree in Artistic Research from the Royal Academy, The Hague. She produces long term collaborative and trans-diciplinary projects that challenge an question the borders of visual art. More info:

Renée Turner is an artist, writer and Research Lecturer at the Willem de Kooning Academy. Currently as an artist in residence at Castrum Peregrini, Turner is working on a two-year research project ‘The Warp and Weft of Memory’. Funded by the Mondriaan Funds, her research will result in public lectures, an exhibition and an online narrative, which combines images from Castrum Peregrini’s archive, artefacts from Gisèle’s closet and Turner’s own reflections on memory and objects of heritage.

Christel Vesters studied Art History and Curating in Amsterdam, New York and London. She is a writer and curator, and currently works on a two-year research project Touch/Trace – researching histories through textiles, which unravels the intricate connections between textile, history and society from a contemporary art perspective.

Aimée Zito Lema, visual artist (born in Amsterdam, 1982, grew up in Buenos Aires) studied at the University of the Arts, Buenos Aires, the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam, and was a resident at the Rijksakademie Amsterdam in 2015-2016. Currently an artist in residence at Castrum Peregrini, she is working on a research project about friendship as a form of resistance.


Art As Resistance, afl 2 Taking the oil out of the arts

Art As Resistance, #2

Taking the oil out of the arts

Tuesday 28 November 2017, 20 hrs

location: Framer Framed    IJpromenade 2  1013 KT Amsterdam

Reservations / Tickets

Fossil Free Culture NL - Drop the Shell, 2017. Credit: Laura Ponchel

Fossil Free Culture NL – Drop the Shell, 2017. Credit: Laura Ponchel

Framer FramedHumanity in Action Nederland and Castrum Peregrini present a three part symposium series, ‘Art as Resistance’. For the second symposium in the series, ‘Taking the oil out of the arts’, we are zooming in on the ethics of cultural institutions taking on financial sponsorships by fossil fuel companies. How do corporate companies benefit from this ‘greenwashing’? To what extent should their cultural beneficiaries be held responsibie? And what are the impacts of ‘artistic activism’ to address this issue?

Art as Resistance #2 will take place at Framer Framed and features presentations and a workshop by BP or not BP? and Fossil Free Culture NL.  In their presentations, BP or Not BP and Fossil Free Culture NL introduce participants to the topic and present examples of how they create impact through artistic interventions.  The presentations are followed by a workshop Artistic Activism, with both organisations giving practical guidelines on how to generate effective and affective experiences that lead to measurable social change. After the workshop participants will have a better sense of the framework in which the Fossil Free Culture movement work. They will learn to implement artistic tactics to a larger campaigning strategy.

BP or not BP? (a clever play on ‘to be or not to be’ from Shakespeare’s Hamlet) are a national network of ‘actor-vists’ in the UK, performing disobedient theatre in many different oil-sponsored spaces. They are part of the Art Not Oil coalition – a group that protests against museums accepting sponsorship from major oil corporations, which they say is a form of ‘greenwashing’. Read more:

Fossil Free Culture NL are a network of artists, activists and scholars at the intersection of cultural work and climate politics. They are campaigning to expose and confront the influence of the fossil fuel industry on cultural institutions in the Netherlands. Recent protests include the May & September 2017 impromptu #droptheshell and #spoiledlandscapes protest-performances at the Van Gogh Museum, demonstrating the museum’s ties to oil giant Shell. Several protestors were arrested. Read more:

On the organisers: Framer Framed, Humanity in Action Nederland and Castrum Peregrini are organisations dealing with themes of collective memory and cultural identities. In three sessions, we team up to jointly explore the necessity for a change in how cultural institutions and producers should (re)present stories and relate critically to histories as well as to the financial structures they are part of.

Our first symposium, Art as Resistance #1, took place at Castrum Peregrini and dealt with the topic of involving communities in activism and the local relevance of a place.

Read more and see:


The Warp and Weft of Memory

The Warp and Weft of Memory

The Warp and Weft of Memory is a research project by artist Renée Turner. She has been funded by the Mondriaan Fund to work at Castrum Peregrini from September 2016 to September 2018.  The work explores the wardrobe of Gisèle d’Ailly van Waterschoot van der Gracht, and the ways in which it reflects her life, work, and histories through textiles and clothing. The aim is to weave connections to the present from a personal perspective. As a whole the project will have different contributions and public manifestations through public lectures, an exhibition and an online narrative combining artefacts, written reflections and images from Gisèle’s own archive of photographs.

Update One Year On: Inside Gisèle’s Closet

Renée Turner

Illustration of Gisèle’s attic apartment closet by Cesare Davolio

Illustration of Gisèle’s attic apartment closet by Cesare Davolio

Her closet is full. Next to garments on hangers, there are also shelves stacked with various accessories and boxes. Summer shoes, wool hats, leather gloves, woven bags and exotic slippers – each box has its own label penned with a black magic marker. More labels float within the boxes; these are subcategories.

The smell of Gisèle’s closet is a combination of dust, dry rot, perfume and naphthalene. The heating pipes run through the closet, making it unbearably warm and the aromas combined with the heat, become a scent diffuser. I try to smell her, but can’t. We can only smell people we’ve known. Or that’s how we recognize that we smell them. Her scent might still be there, but I never knew Gisèle, and cannot recognize it. To be in someone else’s closet is an odd experience. It is intimate, and sometimes uncomfortably so. These objects were the nearest to her body, and many garments still retain her shape. Clothing animates our bodies, and we in turn animate our clothes. Virginia Woolf writes about this in her novel, To the Lighthouse: “What people had shed and left — a pair of shoes, a shooting cap, some faded skirts and coats in wardrobes — those alone kept the human shape and in the emptiness indicated how once they were filled and animated; how once hands were busy with hooks and buttons; how once the looking-glass had held a face; had held a world hollowed out in which a figure turned…” (1) Working on a project like this, I realize projection is inevitable; the gaps are filled with my own reflection.

Left: Gisèle’s mirror 2017, Right: Gisèle’s mirror date unknown

Left: Gisèle’s mirror 2017, Right: Gisèle’s mirror date unknown

I have spent the past year photographing the contents of Gisèle’s closet and scanning relevant images from her photographic archive. Some items are of significance, like her dresses designed by Dick Holthaus, a well-known Dutch designer, and others are more banal, like a box of gloves or a drawer of pantyhose. What should be done with those things with little status?

Some of Gisèle’s clothes are not represented in her archive of photographs. For example, there are no images of her in the Holthaus dresses. Maybe she didn’t like the formal occasions during which she wore them. But other clothes are in images, especially those the most closely related to her work. For example her vividly coloured harlequin costume was used as a source for her paintings. She was her own muse.

An image taken from Gisèle’s archive, one of several photographs of her modelling for one of her paintings. Painting: 'Plumed ladies' (1964)

An image taken from Gisèle’s archive, one of several photographs of her modelling for one of her paintings. Painting: ‘Plumed ladies’ (1964)

Gisèle’s harlequin costume as found in her closet. Made of polyester, the colour remains unfaded.

Gisèle’s harlequin costume as found in her closet. Made of polyester, the colour remains unfaded.

As the clothes are documented, images are scanned, and eventually uploaded and tagged within the digital archive, I think about what makes an object worthy of remembrance. By what merit is something christened heritage or not? With that judgement, the present casts its dice towards an imagined future, waging a bet on stakes unknown. What constitutes value in the now might not be necessarily significant for the future and vice versa. It is a posture akin to Marshall McLuhan’s adage in The Medium is the Massage: “The past went that-a-way. When faced with a totally new situation, we tend always to attach ourselves to the objects, to the flavour of the most recent past. We look at the present through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into the future.” In imagining the future and what it will value, we sometimes fall short of the mark. While McLuhan was speaking about technology, his sentiments are equally prescient when thinking about how we stockpile the present for tomorrow’s history.

Credits and Thanks:

The Mondriaan Fund

Castrum Peregrini: Michael Defuster, Frans Damman & Lars Ebert

Kate Pullinger: contributor

Frans-Willem Korsten: contributor

Andre Castro: mediawiki and server space

Ana Isabel Carvalho and Ricardo Lafuente: frontend design

Cristina Cochior: scans, photography and mediawiki

Cesare Davolio: illustrations

Riek Sijbring: advice on textiles and clothing


All images are the sole copyright of the Castrum Peregrini Foundation and were selected and scanned as a part of The Warp and Weft of Memory, a project by artist Renée Turner. The project was made possible through the generous support of the Mondriaan Fund.



In spring 2016 we announced The Warp and Weft of Memory as upcoming research project by Renée Turner as follows:


“Every poet of furniture — even if he be a poet in a garret, and therefore has no furniture — knows that the inner space of an old wardrobe is deep.” 

Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space, 1958

warp and weft

The Warp and Weft of Memory is a research project by artist and writer Renée Turner, which will result in an online narrative exploring the contents of Gisèle d’Ailly van Waterschoot van der Gracht’s wardrobe, and the ways in which it reflects her life, work, and larger histories through textiles and clothing.

The project, combining fact and fiction, has been generously supported by the Creative Industries Fund NL, and is a collaboration with Kate Pullinger (award winning author of novels and digital fiction), Andre Castro (with an expertise in wikis, Open Source software and hybrid publishing), Ana Isabel Carvalho and Ricardo Lafuente (a free/libre graphic design duo working under the name Manufactura Independente), and Cesare Davolio (an illustrator working on educational projects and socially oriented campaigns).

At the end of the research period, the online multi-nodal narrative will be launched along with an exhibition and series of related lectures, presentations and discussions.



Call for the immediate release of Osman Kavala

We, the friends and supporters of Castrum Peregrini, are deeply concerned by the recent arrest of Osman Kavala. Kavala was detained on 18 October Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport upon returning from the southeastern city of Gaziantep. He has been held in detention ever since. No charges have so far been laid against him.

Osman Kavala is not just a friend of Castrum Peregrini but one of Turkey’s most important intellectual and cultural figures.  He has played a prominent part both in defending the rights and liberties of all in Turkey, and in bringing together people of different political viewpoints to discuss their differences and to work out a common language of civil debate. Nothing could be more important in Turkey – and in many other countries – today.

Osman Kavala has played an important role not just in encouraging discussion inside Turkey but also in presenting the complexities of Turkey to the outside world. His work has been invaluable in making many people outside the country understand and appreciate Turkey. His work should be celebrated, not condemned.

We call for the immediate release of Osman Kavala. We call also for the release of the many others – academics, journalists and public servants – who have also been arrested and detained in recent months in similar circumstances. We support the work of all those in Turkey striving to create a strong civil society in which political disagreements and disputes can be resolved through public discussion and mutual respect.


Avraham Burg, author and former speaker of the Knesset, Nataf, Israel

Frans Damman, Michael Defuster and Lars Ebert, Castrum Peregrini, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Adeola Enigbokan, artist and urbanist, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Quinsy Gario, artist and activist, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Kenan Malik, writer, lecturer and broadcaster, London, UK

Dominique Moïsi, political scientist, Paris, France

Wendelien van Oldenborgh, artist, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Diana Pinto, intellectual historian, Paris, France

Mirjam Shatanawi, cultural critic and curator, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Thijs Tromp, Secretary of the board, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Katherine Watson, director European Cultural Foundation, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Gloria Wekker, social and cultural anthropologist, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

NIETS IS OOIT AF – over herinneringsculturen


“Mijn babykleertjes werden gemaakt van de aan elkaar genaaide stukjes boeklinnen.”

Verslag van de tentoonstelling & het programma over Indische herinneringsculturen

Zondag 24 september 2017, 16 uur

Met: Merapi Obermayer, Esther Captain, Edy Seriese, Het Geluid Maastricht en Erik Somers

[Read more…]

Transhistoric Coalition welcomes Smári Róbertsson

De Oude Kerk, Museum van Loon, Castrum Peregrini and De Reinwardt Academie make up the coalition “Transhistoriciteit” supported within the framework of 3Package Deal. It wants to stimulate ‘creative producers’ to develop activities that connect and combine historic periods and cultural contexts.

The coalition partners have selected Smári Róbertsson to work with the four institutions From October 2017 to October 2018. Róbertsson will follow up Ronit Porat who was the first artist supported by the coalition. 

Smári Róbertsson (Iceland,1992) is an artist based in Amsterdam. In his poetic works he explores site-specific phenomena and basic architectural elements, which are translated through his practice into written pieces, musical compositions and site-specific installations. The focus of his work often lies on the inherit need we feel to autobiographize our life experiences in order to account for our existence and surrounding. Through his works we encounter objects, who’s history not only shaped them, but who owe their autonomy and existence to the incidental processes which happen in the backdrop of our own lives.

Róbertsson holds a BFA from Gerrit Rietveld Academie (2015) and an MA from the Sandberg Institute (2017) in Amsterdam.


Lars Ebert

Lars Ebert, (international) co-operation projects

“I did an internship at Castrum Peregrini in 1999 and was fascinated by the house and its stories and quickly became friends first with Michael and later with Frans. Michaels urge to make Castrum Peregrini viable for the future became a driving force of our friendship. In this ongoing conversation we see our own meaning making in the light of our work.

From Gisèle I learned to look at things instead of seeing them and to be serious and yet playful. When she was very old and Frans, Michael and I took care of her we became a small and intimate family. She was refreshingly open to change and enjoyed it that we developed Castrum Peregrini from a closed, rather obscure community into an open place for artists. She loved to have young, creative people around. I owe her a deep feeling of belonging to Castrum Peregrini that became my home. Thinking of her makes me smile and reminds me why the future of Castrum Peregrini matters so much to me.

Michael, Frans and I are partners in life and in work and honestly I don’t know where the one starts and the other ends. We live where we work and vice versa and literally need to travel to our refuge in Athens to find distance. When one day we leave Castrum Peregrini in the hands of the next generation we will continue to look for a meaningful life together, and that may very well be in Greece.

We all do a bit of everything, as one does in a small, horizontal organisation, but my passion lies in international co-operation, European projects and longer term, process based projects such as our collaborations with the Goethe-Institut, the Bruno Kreisky Forum, the European Cultural Foundation e.a.

I dream of Castrum Peregrinis future as a vibrant meeting place and a respected centre for artistic research, new ideas and concepts for open and inclusive societies. I hope that many more generations can make use of the stories of Castrum Peregrini and feel at home here, leave their traces and write their own, new and unexpected chapters of the story.”

Frans Damman

Frans Damman, marketing and heritage development

“In the nineties I followed a ‘publishing’ class where I met Michael Defuster who planned to work for ‘Castrum Peregrini Press’. I became curious about this ‘publishing house in exile’ and applied for an internship. My assignment was to analyse the database of the subscribers of their magazine, which although relatively modest, contained an impressive range of countries worldwide in which customers were based.

I met the lady of the house, Gisèle, during a dinner. This fascinating artist spoke enthusiastically about her travels and work but also took great interest in what ‘kept me busy’. With her mercury-kind of agility she appeared much younger than the 80 plus years she counted in reality. Gisèle invited me to her studio and asked me if I was interested in helping her sorting out her personal archive, which I happily did as it was a wonderful opportunity to work together and learn more about her life ,which reflected the 20th century and her international artistic network. There I understood how life and work can be intertwined.

After my internship I stayed friends with Gisèle but moved on professionally to Elsevier/Reed, an international division of VNU and then to Nationaal Historisch Museum, a period that was important for me as I learned a lot and was privileged to work with fantastic teams. But I missed a passion for the ‘product’. After several years being loosely connected I officially joined the team of Castrum Peregrini, that in that time just consisted of Michael and Lars. It was a fantastic experience to be part of the radical reorganization process that had started some years earlier and that in 2009 resulted in the beginning of a new existence of Castrum Peregrini. We defined a new profile and values, organized cultural year programmes and the first European Project.

I still remember removing the blinds from the windows on the ground floor where for decades the publishing house in exile was based. With that act we symbolically opened the place for the first time in its 70 years of existence. In that year we were asked to participate in ‘Museum Nacht’. The lights from street level up to the top floor were lit and ‘Castrum Peregrini’ finally landed at Herengracht and invited Amsterdam to connect. This is what I keep dreaming for the future of the house: to make the place visible as part of the Amsterdam fabric and link it internationally with creative initiatives.”

Michael Defuster

Michael Defuster, executive manager

“I got in touch with Castrum Peregrini for the first time in 1983, during my architectural studies in Amsterdam. The colourful people I met and the vibrant, novel like stories of lived lives there formed a rich, adventurous world that stood in strong contrast to my bleak reality of life in a student flat, my daytime job and evening courses of architecture. It fascinated me immediately and somehow I knew right away that this organisation would once be my destination. As a young adult I could sense that in the many tales that surrounded that group of people a very universal truth about life was present. It took me fifteen years from that first encounter before I got permanently involved in the organization. During that journey I developed the insight that it was a far better idea to give space to a diverse and inclusive universality instead of one that found truth in a distinct poetry only. After all my experiences this was exactly what Castrum Peregrini stood for, although many of the people involved did not realise or had forgotten.

Both literally and figuratively speaking, high above the crucible of mundane life Gisèle lived in her extraordinary studio, which was a fairy-tale in itself, just like the  surrounding rooms of the Castrum Peregrini building that spark the imagination until today. For me and for many others, Gisèle was the uncrowned queen, the thriving personality of the house: intense and light in social relations, witty, with a sharp eye for beauty in ordinary objects. She was open and interested in everything cultural and human and in possession of an abundance of positive energy. Her cosmopolitanism was a relief compared with the provincial attitudes of my surroundings. Her spirit was my guide throughout the years.

As an architect I love to set up projects, whether they are realised in concrete or in temporary artistic activities. My efforts to give a new existence to a former publishing house in exile sixty years after the end of the Second World War got a boost when Lars Ebert and Frans Damman joined me to realise that goal. We enjoy a mutual friendship bond that transcends the borders of our personal capacities. From 2009 on we successfully set out a new course based on the strengths of Castrum Peregrini.

Today I focus predominantly on our strategy to prepare this unique treasury box called Castrum Peregrini for a sustainable future as an artistic research centre, where the past, present and future communicate with each other and where ideas and plans are conceived and disseminated to make and keep our society the place we want to live in.”

Please also see Michaels reflections on the past and present of Castrum Peregrini (NL) here.


Castrum Peregrini heeft een onafhankelijk vertrouwenspersoon aangesteld die als meldpunt zal fungeren voor hen, die onder de verantwoordelijkheid van de stichting negatieve ervaringen hebben opgedaan.

Freek Walther heeft als voornaamste taak, in alle rust te luisteren naar diegenen die over dit onderwerp willen spreken. Hij neemt hiervoor alle tijd. Het contact is vertrouwelijk zolang de melder daar waarde aan hecht, maar desgewenst zal Freek ons adviseren over de wijze waarop wij invulling kunnen geven aan de verantwoordelijkheid die wij in dezen dragen.

Freek is direct bereikbaar via het telefoonnummer 06-18518001, of per e-mail:

Er is ook een vrouwelijk vertrouwenspersoon beschikbaar: Marianne Dijkhuizen. Zij is bereikbaar via het telefoonnummer 06-50212048 of per e-mail:

De Vertrouwenspersoon is gecertificeerd door de Landelijke Vereniging van Vertrouwenspersonen, lees hier meer.

2017: The Female Perspective

Starting point of the 2017 programme is the artist and founder of Castrum Peregrini, Gisèle van Waterschoot van der Gracht (1912 – 2013). The life of Gisèle proves time and again to be a source of inspiration for artists, writers and intellectuals. Nevertheless, her female sex and more generally the female identity and sexuality have not been a theme in Castrum Peregrini’s programme before. The Female Perspective zooms in on the ‘womanhood’ of Gisèle and the social and cultural meanings of female identity, sexuality, feminism and gender, both in relation to the historical context and to current events.

All events of this programme are shown in the general events agenda.


Living as Form





This two-day international conference in Amsterdam about participatory art in education and culture featured keynote presentations of cutting edge initiatives, panel discussions, workshops and open space technology sessions for an active role of all participants sharing their practice and peer-to-peer exchange.


With a.o. Renzo Martens, Patricia Kaesenhout, Pier Luigi Sacco,- and you!


The conference Living as Form followed up on previous conferences Participation on Trial (Amsterdam, October 2014) and  European Academy of Participation (Dublin, October 2016). It concluded the 2nd year of the EU project European Academy of Participation,

Living as Form brought together international and national initiatives to foster synergies: How is internationalisation of education taking shape? What good practice can we share of border crossing artistic and community work? How to match the international and the local in cultural programmes?

Living as Form discussed the relations of the cultural and social field and education and the possibilities of a formalised educational offer for artists that involves all these areas.


Please find here the detailed programme Living as Form

Watch the key presentations on our YouTube Channel


Who participated?

Artists, curators, producers, community and institutional leaders, teachers, researchers and critics, from the Netherlands and around the world.



Nato Thompson, from whom we borrow the title of this conference, asks whether it is time at the beginning of the 21st century to return Duchamp’s urinal from the museum to the real world. But the question arises whether it would be accepted by the ‘real world’ today, where one is suspicious towards arts and the artists in their elite bubble. Art keeps engaging with life, trying to find new forms of expression and impact. What is the artistic form of live today, or should we rather talk about art as resistance? And how does education prepare the artists of the future for their role in these new realities?


The conference Living As Form critically discussed the embeddedness of participatory practice in an international framework that has rapidly changed in the last two years. Before that, participatory art has largely been perceived through the historical lens of what happened since the fall of the Berlin wall. The ‘end of history’-feeling has led to the long prevailing paradigm of neoliberalism, our current political order of free trade and open markets. In this paradigm, the private sector takes the lead and the role of the public and that of the state supporting the public is pushed to the background. Simultaneously, alongside the positive effects of participation in and through art and culture, the term participation has been appropriated by the neoliberal policies to stress the fact that individuals need to take their own responsibility versus a withdrawing welfare state. Political support focussed on the economy and the financial market, not the citizen. In turn, and quite ironically, citizens and artists were expected to compensate for austerity politics, being manoeuvred into roles that would ‘art wash’ a misery that should have actually been solved by other professionals: care takers, city planners, social workers etc..

Meanwhile, the world has changed. One could believe that in countries like the USA, Britain, Poland, the Netherlands and Hungary, the revolutionary potential of people and their representatives, long considered to be the domain of the left, is now with populist and nationalist movements that battle principles of enlightenment such as human rights, equality and solidarity. In the fake and factless news their representatives produce, expertise, high end culture and, consequently, artists are framed as the enemies of the ‘people’. Nevertheless, the basic question stays the same: how can artists engage with communities in a mutual beneficial way, towards progress and more culturally and economically inclusive societies?


In the period October 2015 – February 2016 all partners of the EAP project have collaboratively developed a Tuning Document Participatory Art Practice_Creative Producer and the respective graduate profile of a Creative Producer. The document is intended as a reference document that reflects the diversity of the field in Europe and at the same time serves as a benchmark for curriculum builders, teachers, employers and all those academics and practitioners that want to enhance educational and practical development. It set out to establish a MA level standard and contribute to enhancing pedagogy in this field of practice. It is published at

The documents competences inform an intensive Higher Education Course Module that EAP has piloted in London in July 2017 with 30 international students (art graduates and mid-career artists) and 12 international teachers.

The conference was embedded in the projects activities and discussions so far, and invited the Dutch and the international field to contribute with expertise and experiences and use the event as a networking and sharing possibility.



Doopsgezinde Kerk, Singel 452, Amsterdam; Castrum Peregrini, Herengracht 401, Amsterdam; Goethe-Institut, Herengracht 470, Amsterdam.


Organised by


Castrum Peregrini, Amsterdam, The Netherlands representing the EAP – European Academy of Participation partners.

In collaboration with Goethe Institut Lyon and Amsterdam, Tandem for Culture, Community Participation (European Cultural Foundation/MitOst), and representatives of the Willem De Kooning Academy Rotterdam, DAS Art Amsterdam, University of Utrecht and University of the Arts Utrecht.

The conference was financially supported by Fonds Voor Cultuurparticipatie, The Erasmus+ programme of the European Commission and the Goethe Institute Netherlands.



Castrum Peregrini Foundation is an independent cultural centre in an Amsterdam canal house. It emerged out of a community that survived there in hiding during World War II. It wants to be a place where individuals come together to make a positive contribution to an inclusive society. Participation in art and culture is a prime instrument towards this goal.

Research Council

Radical openness towards the past

The complex history of Castrum Peregrini has been subject to research of historians, literature scholars, sociologists and artists. Despite the many and good studies that exist there is a growing demand for research into areas such as resistance, subversive strategies, the relation of arts, crafts and community as well as ideology and politics of the apolitical e.a.

It is equally and especially important to shed light on power relations, sexual dependencies and group dynamics as well as on issues of gender, race and class.

We want to encourage all independent research related to the many histories of Castrum Peregrini. The archives that are accessible in our premises are open for all serious researchers.

In the light of the recent interest in possible sexual abuse in the circles around Wolfgang Frommel we support all efforts to shed light on this troubled past.

Proposals of research projects will be put forward to our research council chaired by Prof. Rosemarie Buikema (University of Utrecht). The council will appraise applications and support researchers.

Applications for use of our archives can be put forward to


Nicole Colin, Professor of the University of Amsterdam (Duitsland Instituut, DIA) and the University of Aix-Marseille currently sets out a longer term independent and transparent research into the history of Castrum Peregrini, including the stories of misuse. This research will be supervised by an independent Academic Committee (see below Research Council) under the chairmanship of Rosemarie Buikema, professor in Art, Culture and Diversity at the University of Utrecht.

April 2018


Research council


Prof. Rosemarie Buikema, University of Utrecht, NL (chair)

Prof. Ernst van Alphen, Leiden University, NL

Prof. Aleida Assmann, Universität Konstanz, DE

Dr. Ursula Langkau-Alex, International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam, NL


“We all carry the Castrum story in us. It has settled in the corners of memory, taken various shapes that we bring to the surface from time to time, from this we can piece a puzzle. And then it will gain a face and others will look at it as one does at a portrait. But everyone will see something else. “

Documentary maker Janina Pigaht uses this quote of Gisèle to end her film Herengracht 401’ a fascinating portrait of Castrum Peregrini in times where it needed to reinvent itself after the death of Gisèle in 2013. Janina followed Castrum Peregrini and its current and former inhabitants over the period of two years. [Read more…]

Castrum Peregrini Dialogue

We have realised the first round of our think tank, the Castrum Peregrinin Dialogue, with the generous support of the Pauwhoff Fund and in close partnership with the European Cultural Foundation and the Dialogue Advisory Group. The latter – an internationally acclaimed group of peace mediators- holds office here in our premises.

The ECF is a kindred organisation that is close to our heart in many respects. With our own history as a hiding place in which art, culture and friendship helpt young people to survive in this house we embrace ECFs mission to strive for an open, democratic and inclusive Europe within which culture is a valued and key contributor.

Together Castrum Peregrini and the ECF share the desire to develop viable concepts of living together in diversity.

In our recent publication The House of Gisèle we have published Kenan Maliks wonderful article Living in Diversity, a lecture that he delivered when we launched the house of Gisèle and Job Cohen unveiled a plaque at our building in May 2016. We took Kenans tekst as a motivation, a framing paper so to speak to bring together a divers group of thinkers from all walks of life and various disciplines to meet three times in one year for 2,5 days and analyse in a conversation, the root causes of fragmentation in Europe and the world today and what we need to take into account when thinking about how living in diversity can work. We tried to balance participation of man and woman, younger and older generation, white and non-white, various religious backgrounds. Also we made sure that we create a protected environment, apply Chatham House Rules for instance, so that everyone feels safe and can speak up, be vulnerable and engage in a dialogue that is based on learning from one another in the first place. Our experience is that our heritage – like the studio of Gisèle – offers a frame, physically and spiritually, which makes those conversations more easy, respectful and intense.

Also we engaged two experienced moderators, Avrum Burg, members of our board of recommendation, author and former speaker of the Knesset as well as Ram Manikkalingam, director of the Dialogue Advisory Group, seconded by Fleur Ravensbergen.

We work to a set agenda, everybody of the 20 participants around the table gives a short input to a certain session, like social justice, and then we speak for 1,5 hours, before we go to the next session. All is reported and after three meetings we bundle it to share it with opinnleaders, programme makers, activists etc. For this first round of meetings 2016/17 we strive to publish outcomes by December 2017.

  1. Avraham Burg, author, former politician, a.o. speaker of the Knesset (moderator)
  2. Ram Manikkalingam, director Dialogue Advisory Group (moderator)
  3. Fleur Ravensbergen, deputy director Dialogue Advisory Group (moderator)
  4. Mirjam Shatanawi, curator Middle East and North Africa, Tropen Museum, NL (rapporteur)
  5. Brian Burgoon, Director Institute for Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam, NL
  6. Adeola Enigbokan, Social Scientist, Amsterdam/New York
  7. Quinsy Gario, poet, artist, activist, NL
  8. Osman Kavala, president Anadolu Kültür, Istanbul, TR
  9. Charl Landvreugd, artist, curator, writer, Rotterdam, NL
  10. Kenan Malik, writer, lecturer, broadcaster, London, UK
  11. Dominique Moïsi, political scientist and writer, Paris, FR
  12. Wendelien van Oldenborgh, artist, representing NL at 2017 Venice Biennale, NL
  13. Thijs Tromp, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, Amsterdam, NL
  14. Diana Pinto, cultural historian, Paris, FR
  15. Jordi Vaquer, regional director for Europe at Open Society, ES
  16. Katherine Watson, director European Cultural Foundation, Amsterdam, NL
  17. Gloria Wekker, Anthropologist and author, NL
  18. Gertraud Auer Borea d’Olmo, secretary general Bruno Kreisky Forum, Vienna, AT

SYNCHRONICLE by Carina Erdmann


by Carina Erdmann

28 – 30 September 2017

Photos from the exhibition opening and the artist talk with Daniel Vorthuys and ‘objects also die’ by Jacob Eriksen

[Read more…]

Artist Weekend: Women and Resistance

Artist Weekend: Women and Resistance

Remembering is repetition. Remembering is the only confusion. Do you understand?

by Amber Coomans

5 – 7 May 2017

As a heritage student, something I learned on the first day was that history is constructed. Heritage is a label that people stick onto something they find important. This Artist Weekend is about that very aspect of history: how come when we google the word resistance (verzet in Dutch), only one woman pops up in Google Images?

From Friday May 5th until Sunday May 7th I attended Castrum Peregrini’s first Artist Weekend: Women and Resistance, a weekend full of artist talks, debates, presentations and film screenings. The weekend is part of a yearlong program titled The Female Perspective, which focuses on questions of female identity, feminism and gender, both in relation to the historical context of Castrum Peregrini and its founder Gisèle van Waterschoot van der Gracht. I watched this weekend, obviously, through my own eyes: a young heritage student with many questions about history, heritage and also about Gisèle’s own affinity with the female identity which was broadly debated this weekend.

The weekend opens with an introduction by curator Nina Folkersma, in which she explains more about the Female Perspective in relation to Castrum Peregrini: the house of female artist Gisèle, where she worked and lived, is the perfect place for such an event. Castrum Peregrini not only wants to preserve the material heritage of her studio and living space, but also the immaterial heritage of friendship, respect, culture and art. In WWII, Castrum Pererini served as a hiding place where spiritual and artistic freedom was the greatest survival tool.

This freedom also plays a central role in the film by Lynn Herschman that follows Folkersma’s introduction. It is about the relationship between the feminist art movement and the anti-war movement in the 1970s. The film has an impressive beginning: visitors of the Whitney Museum in New York are asked to name three female artists. They can only think of Frida Kahlo. The movie continues and a long impressive list of female artists comes along. Artists such as Judy Chicago, Nancy Spero, Howardena Pindell and Judith Baca, names I have never heard of; names that young artist and art student Janine Antoni has never heard of and names that – in literature – seem unfindable in the libraries of America. The three words that describe the feminist art movement are still relevant today: Women Art Revolution.


Bianca Stigter, Marjan Schwegman and Pieter Paul Pothoven present their work on the 6th of May. Bianca Stigter is former editor of the Dutch national newspaper NRC Handelsblad and one of the foremost cultural critics and historical writers in the Netherlands. Later this year, she will release the revised and richly illustrated edition ‘Atlas van een bezette stad’ (Atlas of an Occupied City). Stigter presents an impressive list of female resistance fighters like Frieda Belinfante, Rosa Boekdrukker, Marie Tellegen and Gesina van der Meulen. She also shows that many of these female heroes were related to each other, and part of the Amsterdam elite. Next is Marjan Schwegman, professor in Politics and Culture at the faculty of Humanities at Utrecht University. From 2007 to 2016 she was the managing director of NIOD (Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies). In her presentation she explains how the women Stigter talked about, became invisible. These women became partially invisible because historians often defined resistance on the basis of hard, ‘masculine’ characteristics. In the work of Loe de Jong, women are virtually absent because, as a typical man of his time, he does not include how the people in hiding were taken care of.

The role of women, who appear in the Dutch history of the resistance, is mostly described as supporting in the form of a courier. The role as courier became the focusing-point, though at the same time, Jacoba van Tongeren for instance, was not only a courier but also had a leading role in the famous group 2000.

Schwegman is interested in the dilemma of using violence, especially because religion was very important in people’s lives at the time.

Multimedia artist Pieter Paul Pothoven researches Amsterdam based socialist resistance groups, like RARA and CS6 before, during and after the war, in which both men and women played active roles. He is also interested in the dilemma of using violence: how can this history be presented without falling into nostalgia and glorification of violence? He states that it all depends on your view on life: are you already seeing violence all around you? And what does the term violence mean? Some people see the exclusion of refugees as violent.

In the round table discussion afterwards, Pothoven states that the mainstream historiography is very patriarchal. He tries to put himself in the role of a young girl: what history books could I read in which I recognize myself? A member of the audience asks what it means that Pothoven, again as a man, is writing down this history of women. But why should men always account for this? Asks Schwegman: “I have written about men and I have never had this question.”


The third and last day of talks has a very different feeling than the day before: more personal and vulnerable, and this is mainly because the speakers tend to put themselves into the position of someone else. What the speakers have in common is their struggle with the theme “truth”.

Aya Johanna Daniëlle Dürst Britt holds an MFA from Leiden Unicersity in Islamic studies. She is an editor of the online, which publishes articles in Dutch and English about art, culture and society in relation to Islam. In Leiden she studied the life and work of Hasrad Inayat Khan, the founder of the Universal Sufism, and father of Noor Inayat Khan: resistance fighter and first female radio operator to be sent from Britain into occupied France to aid the French Resistance. Apart from an impressive ancestry, with royals and a long line of mystics and musicians, she also grew up hearing Dutch, as her father’s organisation would develop into the universal Sufi Movement in the West. It has a significant branch in the Netherlands, especially in the city of The Hague. Noor Inayat Khan built up a resistance group, but was betrayed by a jealous woman. This lead to her being imprisoned for several years, and eventually, a death sentence. Her last word, before her execution, was: ‘Liberté!’. This could be interpreted in the spiritual sense she grew up with: spiritual freedom. Britt asks herself the question: “What would I do? I am like her, I love music, art, and mysticism. Would I sacrifice myself?”

Ronit Porat works with photographic materials and combines them with biographical texts and materials from archives. She was born in a Kibbutz in the north of Israel, where history played an essential role in the formation of both personal and national narratives. When she finds a story that touches her in a way, she adds a layer of imagination and very often an autobiographical layer. She states that she is not very interested in the “truth”, because there is no such thing as truth. She really enjoys spending time in archives but finds it difficult to get access. Later in the round table discussion an audience member presses the fact that archives are constructed, and that fiction and history cannot be separated.

Annet Mooij, researcher and writer working on a biography of Gisèle recognizes this. Histories are stories, filled with affection and emotions. This makes writing the life story of Gisèle so very difficult. “My task is to add some meaning, logic or even a question mark to the stories. The story behind the story is impossible to find.”

Of course the weekend is about the Female Perspective, but Gisèle herself really struggled with the term femininity. In the period of her resistance in the war, she was responsible for the money, in that way she wasn’t ‘female’ at all! Later, one of the hiders accused her of being too masculine: “You made use of my male part, now you accuse me of being too masculine!?” In a letter to her husband, mayor Arnold d’Ailly, she even writes that she hates being a woman. Besides, Gisèle never focused on herself as a ‘female artist’. In that perspective it’s even more interesting that a weekend like this is, which is focussing exactly on the female aspect of artists and resistance fighters, is being organised in her former studio. What would she think of that?


Remembering is the only repetition. Remembering is the only confusion. No matter how complicated anything is, if it is not mixed up with remembering, there is no confusion. (Insistence, Andrea Greyer)

This quote of the screened movie sums up this artist weekend for me. I ended up having more questions after the weekend than I had before. What is resistance? What does female resistance mean? What is truth?

Reasonable Doubt – Mieke Bal


Reasonable Doubt by Mieke BalReasonable Doubt_Mieke Bal 18 maart 2017 Photo by Przemo Wojciechowski

Opening Saturday March, 18th at 17 hrs

Reasonable Doubt (2016), the latest film project by cultural theorist and critic Mieke Bal, is an experiment to audio-visualise ‘thought’. Mixing docu-drama with theoretical fiction, the project stages scenes from the lives of philosopher René Descartes (1596-1650) and the Swedish Queen Kristina (1626-1689).

Reasonable Doubt is on show till 13 April 2017, open Tuesday till Friday 12 – 18 hrs.

Thursday 13 april, exhibition is closed at 15:30 hrs

Artist Talk: Mieke Bal on Reasonable Doubt 

On March 30, Mieke Bal will talk about ‘thinking in film’: an experiment to audio-visualise thought. In accordance with her concept of ‘thinking as a social process’, this talk will not be like lecturing ‘at’ people, but sharing the excitement of discovering how things work.  RSVP

read here the review by Jeroen Lutters published in MetropolisM: “Hommage aan Mieke Bal”

intellectual playground
think tank, projects,


Featured Project

Living as Form

A two-day international conference about participatory art with keynote presentations of cutting edge initiatives, panel discussions, workshops and open space technology sessions. With a.o. Renzo Martens, Patricia Kaersenhout, Pierluigi Sacco,- and you!

Kunsttarot – De Kaarten van Gisèle

Het kunstenaarscollectief DE PARASIET  maakte een selectie uit de vele objecten uit het atelier van Gisèle (1912-2013) en schreven er telkens een korte tekst bij die tezamen een serie serieuze, wonderlijke, wijze en ludieke levenslessen vormen in hun nieuwste KUNSTTAROT – De Kaarten van Gisèle die nu i.s.m. Castrum Peregrini wordt gepubliceerd.

Bestel dit bijzondere Kunsttarot nu via – De Kaarten van Gisèle € 16,95 excl. porto kosten

Het Kunsttarot – De Kaarten van Gisèle wordt in een beperkte oplage geproduceerd.

Het Kunsttarot – De Kaarten van Gisèle in de media:


Critically Committed Pedagogies – Amber Coomans

Critically Committed Pedagogies, #2

A recap of  a semi-public seminar

by Amber Coomans

March the 10th is a vibrant day in Castrum Peregrini. Together with Dr. Esther Peeren, (University of Amsterdam, ASCA and Amsterdam Centre for Globalisation Studies), Professor Peter Kraftl (University of Birmingham), Jack Halberstam (Professor of Gender Studies and English at Columbia University) and the moderators Renee Turner and Frans-Willem Korsten, the students of the Piet Zwart Institute and many other guests immerse themselves in “critically committed pedagogies.” Although the word critical may sound as a cliché, Frans-Willem Korstens states, together with the word committed, it’s exactly what this seminar is about.

Esther Peeren

The seminar begins with Dr. Esther Peeren talking about where we teach and how the spaces in which we teach influence learning. She’s inspired by philosopher Michail Bachtin and his so-called chronotopes: intrinsic connectedness of temporal and spatial relationships that are artistically exposed in literature. There is the chronotope of the adventure novel, in which the main character always forgets the things he has learned in the previous episodes and is constantly surprised by everything. In this world learning is not possible. Another example is the chronotope of the Road, in which meeting new people from different backgrounds is central. Bachtin states that these chronotopes also exist in the real world.

The chronotope of the Salon is the place where dialogues can happen and where there is a more dialogic and interactive atmosphere. Perhaps this is an example of what a classroom should look like?

What does it mean to have this seminar at Castrum Peregrini? You could see the former WWII hiding place as a learning space for the hiders. They continued learning by writing and discussing, as in the chronotope of the Salon.

The discussion then turns to the VOC-room in the University of Amsterdam where the faculty of Humanities is now seated. How does the history of this place influence the learning processes that characterize this place? And what does it mean that this hasn’t really been discussed? Our heritage from WWII seems to be allowed to haunt us, as shown by the popularity of the Anne Frank house, but our colonial history isn’t. Why is this the case? Peeren concludes with Bachtin, who explained that learning is an internal conflict: It’s going to be difficult! That internal conflict, or internal dialogue is not ignored at Castrum Peregrini. It is a learning space and thinking space where attention is paid to time and space. If more learning places such as universities would pay more attention to time and space, we would achieve different ways of learning, resulting in more inclusion.

To end with a clever statement from one of the students: It’s not about what the space does to you, it’s who you become because of the space that matters.

Peter Kraftl

The second talk of the day is given by professor Peter Kraftl. He talks about his research on geographies of alternative education, and alternative childhoods in the UK, which is fuelled by his interest in space and place, being a geographer.

Alternative childhoods question standard ways of testing and the way children’s bodies are treated in schools. They create spatial ways of learning. Examples are the so-called forest-schools in Denmark, where the pupils are largely being taught outside in nature, the Kilquhanity Democratic school in Scotland, where teachers and pupils come together every week to discuss what will happen next week in a completely democratic way, and the Findhorn Foundation in Scotland which is more spiritual. What was striking in his research is the fact that teachers in alternative schools speak about love so often. Love as a completely non-sexual, non-romantic emotion. In mainstream society these senses of love are touched upon, but not as frequent. One of Kraftl’s respondents states that we need to see something like love as something bigger than just between two people: love as a responsibility. Kraftl concludes that we need to see alternative childhoods as autonomous, rather than seeing them as alternative. They are autonomous because most of the time they are independent and more outward-looking. They are distinct, but not divorced from the mainstream!

Another point of discussion in the room revolves around the issues of class and inequality in relation to alternative childhoods. It really depends on the places you go to, states Kraftl, because there is a huge diversity within alternative childhoods. It is an important topic.

Jack Halberstam responds to Kraftl’s talk by saying that love being defined as opposed to sexuality is nonsense and impossible. Kraftl agrees that it is indeed problematic to separate love and sex (and jokingly suggested perhaps a very British thing to do.)

A student presses the question whether it’s ethical to homeschool a child. Isn’t it a form of child abuse? Maybe it is, but maybe it’s abuse to put children in a learning environment with only people of the same age. A complicated but interesting subject with much to discuss about.

Jack Halberstam

The seminar ends with Jack Halberstam talking about frightful leaps into darkness based on Auto-Destructive Art. In Halberstam’s own words: from talks about utopian projects we now dive into total destruction at the end of the day.

‘Art without a safety net’ is what Halberstam speaks about, in combination with why we might use queer theory to think differently about death. Why? We’re living in a world where life expectancy has been greatly increased. Also, technological investment happens so fast that we will reach the moment where we will have transcendent the physical condition of death. At least, this is what the trans humanists want us to believe. In a way, Halberstam states, we already are at that point because of IVF. People that normally wouldn’t be able to reproduce are able to now. You can see humanity move towards destruction and we have to think about reproduction and death differently. Auto destructive artists, like Gustav Metzker who lived in Amsterdam for a while in the 70s, aim to think about these subjects in a different way. Metzker has tried to shatter the sentimental investment in WWII, by making clear that the genocide continues and could easily happen again.

Halberstam ends with the following: let’s see if this archive of auto destructive art can give us a set of tools to think differently about embodiment, life, death, risk, safety, art, creativity, and violence. Is there anything within this archive that we can use for the current set of disasters that threaten us?

The contribution of Jack Halberstam was also broadcasted on Castrum Peregrini Facebook Live Feed, Friday 10th March.

As part of the project The Warp and Weft of Memory artist and writer Renée Turner took the initiative for a number of Critically Committed Pedagogies in the House of Gisèle on 20 January and 10 March 2017. The Warp and Weft of Memory is a research project by Renée Turner, which will result in an online narrative exploring the contents of Gisèle d’Ailly van Waterschoot van der Gracht’s wardrobe, and the ways in which it reflects her life, work, and larger histories through textiles and clothing. The Warp and Weft of Memory is made possible by the generous support of Mondriaan Fund

Amber Coomans studies heritage at Reinwardt Academie Amsterdam, and a minor Philosophy, Worl religions and Spirituatlity at HKU Utrecht. Amber joins team Castrum Peregrini on a voluntary basis.


Critically Committed Pedagogies, #2


Critically Committed Pedagogies

Friday March 10th from 10:00 – 17:00

with contributions by:

Professor Peter Kraftl, chair in Human Geography College Director of Internationalisation at the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Birmingham.

Dr. Esther Peeren is Associate Professor of Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam, Vice-Director of the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA) and Vice-Director of the Amsterdam Centre for Globalisation Studies (ACGS).

Jack Halberstam is Professor of Gender Studies and English at Columbia University. Halberstam is the author of five books: Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters (Duke UP, 1995), Female Masculinity (Duke UP, 1998), In A Queer Time and Place (NYU Press, 2005), The Queer Art of Failure (Duke UP, 2011) and Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal (Beacon Press, 2012)

Moderated by Renee Turner and Frans-Willem Korsten 

Working from the unique place and the history of Castrum Peregrini, the Master Education in Arts programme of the Piet Zwart Institute and Castrum Peregrini, will host this semi-public seminar. Examining unexpected sites and paradigms of learning, the aim is to plot spaces for maneuverability, if not resistance or possibilities for imagining and acting otherwise.

As this is a working seminar with limited space to facilitate discussion, reservation is required. This event is FULLY booked >> If you wish to reserve a place on the waiting list, please do so before Monday, March 6th. Send your request to: Susana Pedrosa Email

Emerging hiStories 2017

Emerging HiStories 

Opening 27 January 2017, 17 hrs
On show until 10 March 2017
Open Tuesday – Friday, 12-18 hrs

The tradition of survival; stories and objects of refugees. Composed by Özkan Gölpinar and Nadette de Visser.

radio-1A collection of 20 symbolic objects and stories about flight, ordeal and growth. Through the stories and objects, collected at the Turkish-Syrian border, in the Netherlands and in Germany, ‘we’ connect with ‘the other’. Emerging [Hi]Stories tells the story about the condition humain of being a refugee. Placed in the studio of Gisèle, these objects and stories create a dialogue with the history of Castrum Peregrini.  Read more.