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A Family Portrait


directors: Witte van Hulzen& Sander

performance: Stedelijk Museum

role: mother Anne


The Stedelijk Museum is proud to present the new performance by Sander Breure and Witte van Hulzen, Een Familieportret. This performance is part of the performance and lecture series Stage It! (Part 3): SCRIPTED. The work consists of a large-scale installation, which is presented as an autonomous object, entitled Een Woonkamer, and a script performed by four actors. The two works relate to each other as a family relates to the home it lives in: the house is their property, and they belong together, but they are also two separate things in the world.


Een Familieportret (A Family Portrait) is a portrait of the average Dutch family, which the artists have managed to locate with the help of data from the Central Bureau of Statistics. The script of the performance is based on sound recordings made at the family’s home. Een Familieportret contains fragments from the family’s daily life, arranged over the course of one day. Superficially, the text is about trivial everyday events, but the subtext touches on broader social developments which characterize the age in which we live. For example, English expressions widely used in Dutch are characteristic of the dominance of Anglo-Saxon culture, and the difficulties the mother faces with her application for unemployment benefits illustrate the effect of the economic crisis in Europe at the micro level. Many things are not expressed, and the tensions, doubts, and uncertainties which play a role in this “average” family are often concealed in small, apparently meaningless sentences. The script is clearly visible during the performance. In this way, Een Familieportret becomes documentary theater, in which language serves as an objet trouvé, and the everyday way in which families relate to each other at home becomes an alienating performance.


Een Woonkamer (A Living Room), the installation that also serves as the backdrop for the performance Een Familieportret, was modeled after the living room of the average family. Breure & Van Hulzen photographed and weighed every object in the family’s home – from a paperclip to the dining table. These objects were then redesigned as abstract geometric shapes, removing their functionality and identity. The installation of solid objects is a distorted reflection of the diversity of materials in the living room. This specific composition of materials and processes mirrors the economic situation in the Netherlands, the current trends followed by designers in companies such as Unilever and Ikea, and the tastes of the research family itself.


Cast: Jessica Zeylmaker, Martijn van der Veen, Dunya van der Velden and Titus Schutte

Director Assistent: Emma Waslander

Production: Casper Jansen

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