Gabriel Lester (1972, Amsterdam) responded with 'Shell Shovelers' to Van Gogh's letter from 19 December 1889.
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Gabriel Lester’s video is shown on a low resolution screen, and as a result the forms are vague and blurry. If you look through your lashes, you can see the outlines of Peruvian workers building a road paved with shells. Lester is drawing a connection to the many rural labourers in Van Gogh’s paintings and drawings.
These painterly images are a response to the following passage by Van Gogh from letter 829 about a painting of women picking olives:
‘It’s a canvas I’m working on from memory after the study of the same size done on the spot, because I want a far-off thing like a vague memory softened by time.’
This description perfectly matches the subtle play of light in Lester’s video.