White Balls on Walls

At times awkward yet insightful documentary about the Stedelijk Museum’s efforts to strive for greater diversity in the collection, as well as among their staff.

Time & Tickets

The slogan ‘Meet the icons of modern art’ needs to be scraped off the glass wall of the Stedelijk, Amsterdam’s modern art museum. Because precisely who are these icons? And, who gets to decide? In 2019, as director Sarah Vos started shooting her documentary, more than 90 percent of art at the Stedelijk was made by white men. That’s got to change, the museum’s director Rein Wolfs believes. But this is easier said than done – so much becomes clear when Vos follows Wolfs and his team.

It was a brave move by the Stedelijk to allow a camera behind the scenes of a process that raises uncomfortable and awkward questions. Can a painting still be titled THE PROSTITUTES? When one appraises art, should one also take the skin color or gender of the artist into account? WHITE BALLS ON WALLS is more than a look behind the scenes at a museum: as well as presenting a new perspective on art history, it magnificently encapsulates the struggles that are engaging many historical and cultural institutions.

Sarah Vos, Netherlands, 2022, 90 min. Dutch, English & German spoken, Dutch subtitles.