On Thursday 22 February 2018, the Dutch magazine Vrij Nederland published an article titled Misbruik in naam van het hogere. The piece reveals a history of structural and systematic abuse within the past of the organisation of Castrum Peregrini.
It is with horror that we read these multiple stories of abuse of power, including sexual abuse, involving both adults and minors. We are deeply shocked and immensely saddened by these stories, and in great support of the courageous voices of the victims recorded in the article. Our empathy and support goes out to all those affected, the victims and their loved ones.
As Castrum Peregrini is a collaborating partner for the exhibition Some Things Hidden, that is currently on show at Framer Framed, we felt it important to make a statement as an organisation and as curators of the exhibition – especially given the exhibition itself is about hidden stories, (in)visibility and power structures.
In July 2017, Framer Framed, Castrum Peregrini, artist Charlott Markus and curator Nina Folkersma, were in the process of finalising the exhibition project Some Things Hidden, when a personal article by Frank Ligtvoet appeared on the website of Vrij Nederland. This column came as an outright and alarming surprise to us. The current directors of Castrum Peregrini assured us they were equally unaware of and completely taken aback by this history. They stated there was no reason to believe this was a larger-scale, structural issue and, as we experienced it, the matter was approached with much seriousness. At the conditional request of Framer Framed and the curators, Castrum Peregrini agreed to address this history in the public programme related to the exhibition. With Castrum Peregrini committing to adopt an active, understanding, transparent and investigative stance to the dark sides of their history, we continued the collaborative project.
In a public event that took place last week, Tuesday 20 February, we screened the documentary Herengracht 401 by filmmaker Janina Pigaht, on Castrum Peregrini’s past. The film includes experiences of abuse of power. After the screening, there was a public conversation with the filmmaker and Castrum Peregrini’s director Frans Damman. It was at this moment that Framer Framed and the curators were made aware that a second extensive research and article in Vrij Nederland was due for publication that week, providing further evidence and important new information about the extent of what had taken place.
Again, our empathy and support goes out to the victims and their loved ones. At this moment, we are in conversation with several people that are close to the victims, who so courageously came forward with their experiences. For the current organisation of Castrum Peregrini we wish that they approach the victims with openness and empathy, and that they do everything in their power to open up their history for thorough investigation.
We think that it is of utmost importance that stories like these come out into plain sight and, instead of being hidden, can be confronted and dealt with in a safe, compassionate and transparent way.
Framer Framed team