On 20 August 1672, a gruesome lynching took place just outside the Prison Gate. There, the brothers Johan and Cornelis de Witt were murdered and flayed by an angry mob. The brothers embodied the Republic of the United Netherlands. Their enemies were the Orangists, the followers of William of Orange and his descendants.
This historical event is the starting point for the sculpture Folkert de Jong made for 'De Beeldengalerij'. De Jong is interested in history and how our collective (sub)consciousness works: 'Dutch Mechanisms'. For him, there is a direct link between the lynching then and our times now. Power struggles and populism are also relevant today. It is just as difficult to gain an objective insight into what happened then as it is to form a clear picture of our own time today. Think of the diverse 'facts' that the various media are spreading. Nor is it clear whether the legend is true that the tongue and finger of the De Witt brothers were taken as a trophy after the massacre and later ended up in the collection of the Historical Museum of The Hague.
Fascinated by the finger and tongue, De Jong adds a 3D scan of them to his sculpture of two skeletons. It is as if the remains of the brothers were placed on the pedestal after the lynching. Moreover, the tongue refers to speaking the truth and the finger to pointing out the guilty party.
Most of De Jong's sculptures are made of colourful synthetic material that emphasises the grotesque and wry humour. This outdoor sculpture, however, he has made in traditional bronze. The result is a sample of contemporary symbolism of transience that also makes you think about how you deal with power and populism. Are you capable of condemning someone to death? Could you lynch someone?