The Gate Keepers
Irma de Vries

The Gate Keepers

Two gunmen are positioned in front of the entrance of the Hermitage Amsterdam on the Amstel River. It’s not a coincidence – the museum is currently showcasing more than 30 paintings of gunmen from the 17th and 18th centuries. These monumental paintings by Govert Flinck and Cornelis Troost, amongst others, are part of the collections of the Amsterdam Museum and Rijksmuseum.

These paintings deserve to be protected and the six-meter tall citizens of Amsterdam appear to take their jobs very seriously. They guard the port, leaning on tall metal spears that not only look dangerous but also function as support – the gunmen are not as sturdy as they appear. The figures, created by visual artist Irma de Vries, are round on one side and hollow on the other, like casts of human bodies. With the help of projected lights (perfectly calculated with video mapping), De Vries brings both the bulbous and the hollow sides to life, making the figures appear as holograms.

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