BODY OF STATE
materials: Tarnished bronze,
commission: Belasting & Douane Museum, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Caspar Berger has made the installation Body of State for the stately entrance hall of the Tax and Customs Museum, to mark its reopening after a radical refurbishment. The museum documents the history and significance of the tax system and customs in Dutch society. Berger's installation draws attention to the fact that both taxation and customs are the hallmarks of a collective identity. Where the customs literally draws a boundary, the tax system sketches the contours of Dutch citizenship. Taxation binds the community, and creates and facilitates a social environment. In this environment each individual contribution makes up a fragment of the whole.
Body of State consists of an ensemble of five life-size busts, which together form a cross-section of the Dutch population. Each bust is made up of two parts: a 'support' and a 'cover'. The support is a smooth, dark bronze, anonymous mass. The cover, made of highly reflective silver shaped on the bronze support, shows a detailed human face. The support stands for the collective, which apart from its shape reveals no other information, while the cover gives the bust its identity. Together the two elements portray the fact that our identity is borne by the greater body of community and social coherence.