Dan Starling: Unsettled Histories

Vancouver-based artist Dan Starling’s Unsettled Histories takes as its starting point Rembrandt’s renowned work Christ Crucified Between Two Thieves: The Three Crosses (1653). Rembrandt had created five states of this print, with each version altered through either sketching directly on the plate or adjusting the level of ink left on the plate for printing. Starling, piqued by this experimental approach by one of Western art history’s most renowned figures, created 40 drypoint prints, working from the original to embellish and erase parts of the image, creating a shifting narrative through time on the hills outside the walls of Jerusalem.

Unsettled Histories uses printmaking to realign the timelessness of Rembrandt’s original with the timeliness of contemporary socio-political struggle in the settler-colonial context of Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. Western art history is typically presented as timeless and unchanging. By moving Rembrandt’s work through a process of erasure and superimposition, Starling aims to highlight the instability of occupation.

Starling, through his process, questions the legitimacy of colonial histories, prodding at the foundations of settler-occupied cultural narratives. Starling’s single copper plate carries within it a multitude of propositions, fictions, literary accounts, and imaginings.

This publication features 40 drypoint prints from Dan Starling’s Unsettled Histories series and texts by Jennifer Cane, Daniel Adleman, Sanem Güvenç, and the artist. It was published in conjunction with the exhibition Unsettled Histories at the Burnaby Art Gallery, which ran from February 4 – April 17, 2022.

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For more information about the exhibition: https://www.burnaby.ca/recreation-and-arts/arts-and-culture-facilities/burnaby-art-gallery/exhibitions/dan-starling-unsettled-histories