March 2017

Back to Issue 1

key to exhibits

By Stu Hatton

(Gravensteen, Ghent)


  1. That an instrument of torture might be redeemed by removing it from the glass cabinet & hanging it from a wintering tree.


  1. The ‘anxiety pear’ was a pear-shaped wooden device placed in the mouth to muffle the screams of torture victims. It was secured with laces that were tied at the back of the head.


  1. It should be noted that the castle once served as a prison, & later as a factory. On the battlements, barriers have been placed across the crenels—presumably to prevent ‘accidents’, or to block out the luring view of the city.


  1. A warning posted upon the guillotine, in four languages (the English text reads ‘Do not touch’). Does the warning refer only to the guillotine, or could it have a wider field of reference? Or taken together, guillotine & warning could be seen to mark a vast unease vis-à-vis how the past appears—or fails to appear—to us.


  1. This is a ‘chamber of purity’—a room that is said to ward off lies. It is currently closed for repairs.


  1. The Latin inscription in the vestry might be translated as ‘One must act as if one is always in sight.’



Note: the paragraph regarding the anxiety pear has been adapted from a caption in a display cabinet at Gravensteen, Ghent, Belgium.