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.