Monument - Quinsy Gario - How to See the Spots of Der Leopard
October 15, 2020

How to See the Spots of Der Leopard

In the seventeenth century Duke Jacob Kettler of the Duchy of Courland, a Polish-Lithuanian vasal state in an area that is today western Latvia, commissioned several ships to participate in the violent European project of colonial expansion and resource extraction.

In 1645 one of those ships, De Hoop (The Hope) was spotted off the French coast of Saint Martin/Sint Maarten, which was then a joint Dutch–French colony. The ship had been built in Zaandam, a Dutch city, and sailed under Dutch command from Amsterdam to the Grain Coast (present-day Liberia) for grain, then to the Caribbean for timber, and then back to Europe.

In 1653 the ship Der Leopard (The Leopard), also under Dutch command, sailed from Amsterdam to Guinea, where abducted and chained Africans were forced onto it. It then sailed to Martinique, where our ancestors were sold and enslaved to work sugar plantations established on the French colony by Dutch people, who had previously been expelled from Brazil by the Portuguese.

From 1654–1659 the Duchy of Courland had a colony on the island of Tobago, currently part of Trinidad and Tobago, after it had been a Dutch, French, and British colony. Duke Jacob Kettler had heard of the island in the Dutch city of Middelburg, where he was told about the difficulty in colonizing the island for the Dutch Republic.

In 2013 a statue was erected for Duke Jacob Kettler in Kuldiga, Latvia. During his reign, Kuldiga was the seat of his power and was called Goldingen, “the Golden City” in Baltic German, which was the ethnicity and language of the ruling class.

In 2020, Quinsy and Jörgen Gario, who are from Sint Maarten, a former Dutch colony that in 2010 became a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, were invited to perform in Kuldiga.

Words and Sounds Jörgen Gario
Words and Scenography: Quinsy Gario
Camera Adele Bea Cipste, Inga Lāce, and Māra Žeikare
Edit Quinsy Gario
Production Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art, Ieva Astahovska, Margaret Tali, Jörgen Gario, and Quinsy Gario
Supported by The Mondrian Fund
Special thanks Ilya Lensky, Jews in Latvia Museum; Māra Zālīte, Pētera Putniņa kokļu darbnīca
For all who were taken and all of us who survive


Monument is a collaboration between e-flux Architecture and Het Nieuwe Instituut.

Quinsy Gario
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