Abstract

An honest man has nothing to hide

“I know these modest museum which you call ‘canal houses’. And I also know why there are no curtains hanging in front of the windows: that was a decision of the Synod of Dordrecht. An honest man has nothing to hide.”
I read this in an interview with the Hungarian writer Magda Szabò.
From this moment on I started looking more and more into the canal houses in Amsterdam. Especially during winter months when it gets dark early, the scenes of the illuminated interiors, where seldom someone is visible make me fantasize.
The big high windows with behind them the chandeliers and the walls covert with wallpaper lit by artificial light, the stylish rooms with the beautiful plaster ceilings and the cords on the open curtains are show-boxes sliding by in the cold winter evenings. I cannot stop watching at the interiors with their still lives with beautiful bouquet’s and antique vases. Now and then there are people visible, eating or reading the newspaper. What is going on inside?

The film consists of a sequence of images of silent interiors of canal houses in Amsterdam, on winter evenings. These illuminated ‘museum’, shamelessly exhibited to the spectator, show a very particular Dutch phenomenon. It arises the question, is the director with her gaze violating the privacy of the inhabitants?