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Raul Balai
JARLLAND or All Crowns Are Bastards (2021)

Usually the stable master selects which eight “purebred” Friesian or Gelderlander horses from the Royal Stables will draw the Golden Coach. Balai’s team of horses offers a spin on this selection in which “breed” is important. The work is also an indictment of inequalities of citizenship stemming from the “racial mentality” of colonialism as it is depicted on the Golden Coach.

With all its decorations, the Golden Coach was once conceived as a symbol of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. But when looking at the coach, we should not forget the team of horses. The seated monarch does not determine its course; in theory, the horses pull the vehicle and can go in any direction. If we extend this comparison of the coach as the kingdom, who might the horses be?

The Balai team consists of hybrid horses, shaped by history—akin to the horse drivers who steer them. Balai asked family members with mixed backgrounds from Africa, Europe, South America, the Caribbean, India, China, and the Maluku Islands to model for him. In the artist’s view, nationalism hinders us from being able to embrace our intensely connected reality.

This work has been realized with thanks to Alewijn Medendorp and Joris van Tubergen. The 3D models of horses are shared under the creative commons attribution license by briarena art, Nationaal Museum Zweden, Mehmet and Ersin, mordr3d, Paulo Ricardo Blank, ssxstar12, Scan The World, The Hunt Museum, Tommy Kong aka stronghero.

Raul Balai (Amsterdam, Netherlands 1980) works as a designer, exhibition maker, curator, and artist. From a fascination with historiography and its scant attention to diversity, he creates work about cultural exchanges, hybridizations, and collisions.

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