The Mystery of Moansburg & Mata Hari


 

For many years, there was the persistent rumour that Moansburg had kept a photo of Mata Hari in his wallet since childhood and had regularly presented it as his Mother when questioned on his heritage. With a young Moansburg, no doubt traumatized and in denial regarding his Mother’s descent into the murky world of nightclub prostitution, it was a particularly credible possibility.

Due to the extremely delicate nature of the question (Moansburg’s Mother was tragically killed in Africa in 1982), it had remained unanswered for many years. Then one summer day in 2001, soon after Moansburg had opened his first screen print studio in The Hague, a foolish and naive assistant thought it wise to rifle through Moansburg’s wallet.

The irony runs deeper than usual on this one. Mata Hari, famously executed in October 1917 for allegedly spying for Germany, the bulk of her guilt attributed to her fraudulent claims of being of a Javanese Princess, when she was actually of Dutch heritage.

But the real revelation was that Moansburg had spent nearly 40 years presenting a photo of someone he thought was in denial of their heritage because he was in denial of his own heritage, when in reality he had been representing his Mother with a withered and torn photo of Anita Berber, the notorious Weimar Era actress and dancer.

Berber, famous for her brazen bisexuality and rampant drug use, was found dead in bed in 1928, aged 29, surrounded by assortment of morphine syringes and bowls filled with chloroform and ether mixed with white rose petals.

The latest collection ‘Bitter Sweet Domestication’, a visual odyssey directly into Moanburg’s incredible trajectory, his critical reflections punctuating significant moments in his life. His early pining for an archetypal nuclear family, in sharp contrast to the reality of an absentee father and a household held together on a shoestring budget by his loving Mother’s extra-curricula activities.

Circus collection


 

The greatest show on Earth is life, but Barnum and Bailey’s circus comes a close second. This mythical American circus, known since 1919 for combining acrobatics, exotic animals and family entertainment.

As a child, Crail was heavily influenced by the artistic direction of the circus posters, imported from overseas by his horse riding teacher.

Crail quietly worked for many years with the horse circus from Bartabas in Paris, noting to himself: ‘Wherever you build the circus, the audience, the stars and the toliets are sure to follow.’

On 1st May 2016, Crail asked the rhetorical questions: ‘Where are the horses, the trapeze, the lion tamer, the flying elephant and the monkey on a moped? What happened to them? Do they have their own circus?

Maybe Crail Moansburg prefers the anonymity of the circus audience. Just to escape internet. But the seductive pull of the art world is too much for him and since 2012 he has summoned all his physical power from the present, combined with his mental experience of the past in producing irreverent and unique mixed media artworks.

Crail’s artistic dreams are brought to fruition thanks to a personal army of helpers based at the Karl Marx Factory in The Hague, Holland.

They also bring tea, vodka and clean sheets, whilst announcing the arrival of Moanburg’s new series of artworks: The circus.

Nothing to Declare collection


 

The inevitable conflicts caused by porous borders, broken promises, future spouses and remembering the map is not the territory.

Crail has always walked the line, keeping busy even when no one is watching, proudly announcing his declarations, crossing borders and welcoming companions into the Moansburg fold.

Having spent most of his formative years living in a strip club, Crail felt comfortable in No Man’s Land, where a lifetime of pandering and promising ended abruptly at closing time.

‘Nothing to declare’ is the gobbledegook of a nonsensical rhetorical question, an alternative battle cry. Religious types might refer you to their particular doctrine, whereas more business-orientated types might refer you directly to their accountant. But is not nothing something or not something nothing?

A lifetime of international travel, salty tears and broken dreams, proudly manifest in this latest masterful collection from Moansburg.