by Christina Stadlbauer

A workshop around a mysterious drawing

The starting point for the workshop is a 16th century image. At first glance, the drawing “The Beekeepers” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, simply shows a scene at an apiary, three figures dressed as beekeepers busy with skeps (straw beehives) and one figure on the lookout in a tree. The protagonists’ faces cannot be seen and the anonymity of the characters puzzles the observer. The entire scenery leaves many open questions to lay observers and experts alike resulting in numerous speculations.

When framing the image in its historic context, it can be read as highly political piece of evidence of the 1560ies. The beehives, bees and beekeepers, and the “nest robber” can be seen as encrypted comment or hidden critique of the socio-political situation then: 16th century religious conflicts and a harsh political answer by the established government of the Netherlands – the Spanish Crown.

Experts attempting to give answers come up with various speculative interpretations.Nevertheless, the meaning of the drawing stays ambiguous and the mystery of the illustration remains unveiled.

During Melliferopolis Fest, a workshop around this drawing was designed aiming at possible modern day speculative interpretations, both as narratives and as physical reenactment.

Pictures of the workshop can be found here. (will be updated soon!)

Breugel-ing is a speculative re-enactment of a medieval art work by Pieter Bruegel and was part of the Melliferopolis Fest activities, in June 2016.
Featured image:  The Beekeepers and the Birdnester, Pieter Bruegel The Elder, ca. 1568

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