The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam wants to become more inclusive and diverse but it won’t happen overnight. In White Balls on Walls, director Sarah Vos shows from the inside how new director Rein Wolfs and his team take on this socially delicate, urgent and uncomfortable process of change on the work floor and within the art collection.
The slogan ‘Meet The Icons of Modern Art’ is scraped off the glass wall of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. After all, who are these icons of modern art anyway? Who defines them and at whose expense? In 2019, when director Sarah Vos began filming for this documentary, some 90 per cent of the art at the Stedelijk was made by white men. That has to change, think director Rein Wolfs and the Stedelijk Museum. But that this is simpler said than done, as Vos follows him and his team in their efforts to increase diversity in the collection and staff.
The camera records behind the scenes how this process raises uncomfortable questions. Can you still call a painting ‘The prostitutes’? Should you look at the skin colour or gender of the artist when judging art? And how do you deal with press calling it ‘overly politically correct’? White Balls on Walls is more than just a behind-the-scenes look at a museum. It is a period document that reflects the struggle that many Dutch institutions and companies are currently going through.