Les vacances de Monsieur Grunberg
Dutch novelist Arnon Grunberg investigates the ultimate warzone: family vacations.

Summer holidays and photos are inextricably linked: the first thing that people pack, after their passport, tickets and money, is their camera. Les vacances de Monsieur Grunberg is a project by novelist Arnon Grunberg and visual artist Wendela Hubrecht.

Les vacances is a sequel to Grunberg's 'embedment' with various families from the Leidsche Rijn suburb in Utrecht. Embedded here means staying with a family and participating in their daily activities. Grunberg wanted to more extensively investigate the phenomenon of the family by taking a holiday with them. 'A family on a holiday is a family in a warzone – or to be more concise – in a state of war. That’s how I see it.'

It started in 2010 with a notice in the newspapers. Following a two-day audition with thirty families at the Holiday Inn in Amsterdam, Grunberg chose the Maud and Nick’s family, who took him to the Greek island of Lefkas with them. NRC Handelsblad covered the story. 

Visual artist Wendela Hubrecht photographed the audition, Arnon Grunberg’s holiday and the holidays of families who went on holiday without Grunberg. These families also received a disposable camera to take their own photos. A selection of the photos, texts and a film are on view in the exhibition. The material raises many questions, such as why would a family want to be observed and written about by Grunberg? Grunberg observed the families but was also observed himself. What is a family? What is private? Where are the boundaries set between the two parties?

This project has been made possible by Eizo en Holiday Inn. 

Foam is supported by the BankGiro Loterij, De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, City of Amsterdam, Delta Lloyd, Olympus and the VandenEnde Foundation.

The Foam exhibition is a visual account of the auditions and the official photos Wendela Hubrecht took during Grunberg’s holiday with the family, along with the snapshots of the other families. It is as if the museum visitor was strolling through the families’ photo albums. A text by Grunberg will be included in the exhibition notes accompanying the show.

Arnon Grunberg (NL, 1971) is a celebrated novelist who resides in New York. In recent years he has become known as a writer of literary reports from all over the world and on widely divergent subjects. He also is a columnist for periodicals such as de Volkskrant, Vrij Nederland and VPRO Gids.


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Les vacances de Monsieur Grunberg