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port folio

distant suffering

hans overvliet 1


edition wednesday march 21 2018 page 06 page 08 page 38 page 40 page 43


Temporal Disruption and Anti-Efficiency: Hans Overvliet’s critical media practice | Dr. Dani Ploeger works justification documentation | works documentation | exhibitions



cross #1 | 2007

cross #2 | 2007

Temporal Disruption and Anti-Efficiency: Hans Overvliet’s critical media practice Dr. Dani Ploeger The proliferation of digital news media over the past two decades has led to the distribution of increasing numbers of news events at ever higher speeds. Through news feeds and live alerts, updates on the latest incidents all over the world are disseminated almost instantly and continuously. In The Administration of Fear (2012), Paul Virilio discusses the paradoxical consequences of this development. Instead of facilitating a more detailed assessment of events and thus trigger empathetic action on the side of the recipient, the fast sequence of detailed mediatizations of catastrophes and threats promotes a permanent state of fear. Whereas, in previous media eras, fear used to be ‘related to localized, identifiable events that were limited to a certain timeframe’, it has now increasingly become an environment that determines everyday life in the Global North. It is this paradigm of speed and fear that has formed the starting point for Hans Overvliet’s work since the mid-2000s. In Cross #2 (2007) press photos of violent events during the Second Gulf War are cut into strips and woven into fragments of fashion and architecture photography. At first sight, it is not quite clear what the image fragments in the resulting Duratrans print represent. Unlike the original war photographs, the often-graphic nature of which instantly fills you with horror, you need to take some time to decipher their gruesome contents. In addition to the collision of the slick realm of consumer culture with the destruction of warfare, two processes are at work here: On one hand, the cutting up and weaving of the image strips foregrounds that the photos also exist as aesthetic objects in themselves, rather than merely a means of representation that gives access to a reality elsewhere. Thus, the process of mediation and the distantiation between the viewer and the events represented are foregrounded. On the other, by making the contents less readily accessible to the beholder, the images are removed from the rapid stream of catastrophic representations Virilio describes. You are compelled to pause and reflect. 5

images are removed from the rapid stream of catastrophic representations Virilio describes. You are compelled to pause and reflect. In distant suffering I: Syrian Skies | 1,000 days (2015), this strategy of foregrounding the process of mediation, while establishing an initial ambiguity of the material’s representative contents is developed further. Magnifications of clouds scanned from printed newspapers draw attention to their composition of different patterns of dotted ink. At the same time, the absence of the landscapes that were below the clouds in the original images invites you to enjoy the scene like you might contemplate the sky in a 17th century Dutch painting. This beauty and apparent peacefulness of the isolated clouds and the accompanying process of mediation are juxtaposed with the eerie reference to the war in Syria that is provided by the title of the work. Slowed down by the work’s seductive visual appeal, the confrontation with the painful implications of the source of the clouds unfolds itself in the foreground of your mind. These disruptions of the high-speed digital media landscape that occur during encounters with the finished work are not the only locus of Overvliet’s interventions though. A possibly even more radical interruption of what Virilio calls ‘the cult of speed’ takes place during the creation process. Instead of taking advantage of the latest software solutions to make image processing, graphic design, data collection and categorization faster and easier, Overvliet spends hundreds of hours conducting individual Google searches, cutting and gluing prints of digital images with scissors and a glue stick, and fiddling with the space bar and the return key of his old laptop to position images in a Word document. Although to an outsider this may appear like a ‘waste of time’ or a sign of incompetence, the inefficiency of Overvliet’s engagement with digital technologies is a significant component of his desire to undermine

Overvliet’s engagement with digital technologies is a significant component of his desire to undermine the ideological framework that surrounds digital media. Overvliet’s work process rejects the logic of process optimization and efficiency that usually accompanies everyday consumer technologies. Thus, the temporally disruptive quality of his work is also established by the often makeshift digital (and non-digital) processing of its materials.


In distant suffering IVX, i.d. of a shared cloud, the ‘book’ (2017-18), Overvliet includes us in his laborious creation process. Instead of a finished book, we are offered a box filled with a pile of paper sheets with a grid outline, accompanied by 1000 stickers. Each sticker shows a downloaded image of a cloud on which a set of geographical coordinates – sourced from a publicly accessible online military database – are superimposed. Here, Overvliet revisits the theme of the seemingly innocent cloud, this time connected to mapping technologies, a decisive facilitator of imperialist expansion since colonial times; ‘to conquer […] global life, one must be able to map it’ (Patel and Moore, 2017). These two components, the clouds and the mapping coordinates, are both sourced from the virtually endless public information-pool available through the internet. This makes both the images’ individual contents and the interrelationships between coordinates and clouds appear arbitrary at first. However, Overvliet gives us an assignment: We can only obtain the work if we commit to sticking all 1000 images to the pages, one by one. Over the duration of multiple hours, we are required to make decisions on the order of the images, as well as concentrate on placing each sticker carefully onto the page, an activity reminiscent of the now archaic practice of the picture card album. What seemed like an arbitrary mess of data at first, is turned into puzzle of sorts, where we are invested in giving each piece its proper place. The true relationship beween the clouds and the coordinates is never disclosed, but our repetitive, concentrated engagement with each individual instance confronts us with the uncanniness of quantified space in combination with the clouds as ambiguous double references to the forces of nature and human violence.

tween the clouds and the coordinates is never disclosed, but our repetitive, concentrated engagement with each individual instance confronts us with the uncanniness of quantified space in combination with the clouds as ambiguous double references to the forces of nature and human violence.

Instead of providing us with a slick and streamlined finished art object, Overvliet’s ‘book’ challenges us to join him in a slow, detailed – and potentially frustrating – engagement with contemporary media. Thus, the work doesn’t provide us with an endpoint, but instead creates a breathing space. A moment to step outside the numbing, high-speed stream of fear-inducing media spectacles, and ask ourselves the question: “What must we do?”

References Paul Virilio (2012). The Administration of Fear. Los Angeles, CA: Semiotext(e). Raj Patel and Jason W. Moore (2017). A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things: A guide to capitalism, nature, and the future of the planet. Oakland, CA: University of California Press.

distant suffering I | syrian skies 1,000 days | 2014

exhibition Vlissingen | W3 | 05-06/04/’14



Ariha | 07-09-2013


Yarbroud | 17-05-2013


Daraya | 16-01-2013

distant suffering II | anatomy of a cloud [ gaza ] | 2014

exhibition | W45 | Goes | 06-27/09/’14



distant suffering III | may 18 2012 | july 31 2014 | april 5 2015

exhibitions Mon Capiatine | Middelburg | 05/04/’15 – 26/04/’15 DISTORTION | Willem Twee kunstruimte | Den Bosch | 07/01/18 – 25/03/’18 curator | Loek Grootjans photo | coutesey ©2018 | Niek hendrix | Lost Painters videolink



distant suffering IV | documentation of a cloud | 2015

exhibition | Art Gouda | het Weeshuis | 01/06/’16 – 05/06/’16


photo | Bulent Kilic | AFP Photo


photo | Gokhan Sahin | Getty Images

photo | Lefteris Pitarakis | AP Photo

distant suffering VI | i.d. of a shared the key #1 | 2015work in progress

exhibition | Art Gouda | het Weeshuis | 01/06/’16 – 05/06/’16



distant suffering VII- VIII - IX | i.d. of a shared cloud / wave / home | 2015 selection used images


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distant suffering VII | i.d. of a shared cloud | 2015

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distant suffering VIII | i.d. of a shared wave | 2015

distant suffering IX | i.d. of a shared home | 2015


distant suffering VII-VIII-IV | 2016

exhibitions Vreemde Gasten | Amersfoort | 1 & 2 oktober 2016 Beeldenstorm [ Iconoclastic Fury ] July - August 2017 Photo: courtesey Š2017 | Anne Breel



distant suffering XIII | i.d. of shared distortion | 2017

Cultuurcentrum Bugge | April 27, 2017 – May 27, 2017 Contribution to ‘Les Refugés’





distant suffering XIV | i.d. of a shared cloud #2 | the ‘book’ | 2017



i.d. of a shared cloud | the book The context of the text Temporal Disruption and Anti-Efficiency: Hans Overvliet's critical media practice by Dr. Dani Ploeger at the beginning of this portfolio, is this proposal. It concerns a different elaboration of i.d. or a shared cloud, namely in the form of a 'book' on the boundary of artist's book, performance and multiple. The configuration is a so-called clam shelf box, provided with a dust jacket with an intaglio print of the title and the name of the author on the front and back. On 100 pages, a grid is printed. Separately supplied is a number of sticker sheets with the 1000 explosions / clouds with the unique codes. The person who buys the 'book' assembles the stickers into the grid, which disappears. At this point it is in order to raise two issues: one of the characteristics of my work concerns working itself (labor | laborans = working / giving birth). My productions are always extremely labor intensive, concern large series over long periods of time with many repetitive actions. I want to include the person who purchases the 'book' in this process of concentration, linearity and repetition. The content of i.d. of a shared cloud is by means of the seemingly endless repetition of what is happening around us - now by means of actions - experience by the person making ‘the book’. A process that ultimately, by the choice of the person who compiles the 'book', based on that repetition, ends in a unique result. In addition, a discussion about 'the object' in art has long dominated my thinking: is it possible to make art without an object as the end result of a chain of attitude, ideas and actions / decisions, but in which and at which the whole creating process in the work is anchored and solidified at the same time? This 'book' aims to contribute to this discourse. And the possessor of this 'book' ultimately gathers a greater knowledge of his / her book than the artist.


The strategy is that in a number of related art spaces, I assemble the 'pictures' in the 'book' for about a week as a performance. Visitors purchase their own copy on site and he / she composes her / his / her own unique 'book' there and then. Performance and book are therefore essentially interconnected: the visitor is given the opportunity to participate in what the inventor / executor intends and wants to achieve. The community of the artists of the project 'pose a question to the city ' I initiated in 2017 in ruimteCAESUUR, have responded very positively to my request for presentation places: Alexia Manzano | Barcelona, Jörn J. Burmester | Berlin, Nuria Bofarull | also Barcelo-na, jen gossé | Antwerp, , Frederick Johannson | London, Ko de Jonge | Zentrum für Künstlerpublikationen Weserburg, Bremen, etc. I also investigate whether other works within the art series distant suffering can accompany the performances.

March 2017 | Hans Overvliet


distant suffering XV | 17/05/’1940 – 17/05/2017 SYRIAN SKIES REVISITED [ 2,238 DAYS ]

exhibition | Middelburg | ruimteCAESUUR / Nieuwe Kerk | May – June 2017







distant suffering (2013-) is an ongoing series of work that investigates the role of the media in the representation of military violence and memory. With the production of the art-series distant suffering, Hans Overvliet questions the role of the media consumer, yet equally his own role as an artist. By constructing these works of existing media images, Overvliet allows us to view these images through an entirely different lens. Most often, the artist’s intended themes include the multiplicity of visual culture and its mindless consumption. Overvliet’s works ask the spectator to gaze intently at them, in order to instigate in the viewer a new awareness about the images around them. 1 From a thematic perspective distant suffering is about art, violence, war & destruction as presented in media production, media consumption, fading remembrance / memory, the politics of aesthetics, and ownership of the event versus its documentation. The title of distant suffering derives from the book Distant Suffering, Morality, Media and Politics by Luc Boltanski2 – indeed the brother of. The exhibitions of distant suffering are also about questioning the neutrality & safety of the art space and the role of the art producer & the art consumer. The poetry in distant suffering is inspired by Kahlil Gibran3, especially his poem from The Garden of The Prophet : Pity the nation divided into fragments, each fragment deeming itself a nation. The transition into art is inspired by the Dutch Artist Armando4: It is the beauty of evil, ‘die Schönheit des Bösen’, located in the belly of the evil, looking for a place in the wake of evil in order to show him-self to me, although it doesn’t amuse me at all. This beauty calls me to transfer the ‘evil’ into the innocent, because amoral domain the art.

realize suddenly that I am connected directly through the atmosphere with what is happening there. I breathe a little different. . . . ** 38

Art critic Nico Out articulated the relationship artwork / Luc Boltanski in a review of my work in W45, art space Goes: Behind the formal aspect of the work of Hans Overvliet lies a strong commitment to the troubled spots in the world. (...) In his work impermanentce gets an extra charge. In "Anatomy of a Cloud" and "Syrian Skies' he refers subdued and in a penetrating way to the destruction of life in the struggle of people. The question is: what does this work add to what I know and who I am? My answer: an unexpected angle. Because Overvliet for example shows me five times an intense black plume of smoke; I suddenly I breathe a little different . . . . 5 Out seamlessly matches with the analysis by the philosopher Hannah Arendt on the dichotomy 'compassion' versus 'empathy'. The action driven perspective that is included in the approach of her nonpaternalistic empathy is the performative part of the series distant suffering.


Julia Mulié , Assistant Curator Vleeshal, Middelburg, 28/11/2016 Cambridge Cultural Social Studies | ISBN 97-8052-1573-894 3 Lebanese-American artist, philosopher and writer. The book was originally published in 1923 by Alfred A. Knopf. 4 Armando, Acknowledgements About Beauty, 1987 5 Art section | PZC | 09/11/’14 2

documentation | works in this portfolio


distant suffering I | syrian skies [ 1,000 days ] Work 12 prints A4 of photos from de Volkskrant of 23/12/’13, Canon MP-101 matt photo paper 170 grams, Canon Pixma MG6150 printer on 10 mm. foam board. Photos Province of Idlib, August 30 2013 Binnish, Idlib, September 5 2013 Damascus, July 30 2013 distant suffering II | anatomy of a cloud [ gaza ] Work 5 prints, each 82,2 x 12,8 cm. coulour prints on Hahnemüle German Etching 310 grs. mounted on 10 mm. foam board Photo Gaza, Beit Hanoun, 13 August 2014. Unknown photographer. distant suffering III | May 18 2012 | July 31 2014 | April 5 2015 Work 2 platters Ø 45 cm. | 2 video stills | video with the sound of the crushing platter distant suffering IV | documentation of a cloud Work 3 x [ 82,2 x 12,8 cm.] full colour prints on Hahnemüle German Etching 310 grs. mounted on 10 mm. Kapafix the Syrische town Kobane / Ain al-Arab, observed from the Turkish village Mursitpinar / Mürşitpınar [ 36° 54' 14" North, 38° 20' 52" East ] in the Sanliurfa region Monday, October 20, 2014 Photos Lefteris Pitarakis | AP Photo - Bulent Kilic | AFP Photo Gokhan Sahin | GettyImages - Foto | Kai Pfaffenbach | Reuters


distant suffering VII – VIII - IX | i.d. of a shared cloud / wave / home Work 3 ‘out-lines’ of filing cabinets, each 134 cm. x 49,5 cm. x 71 cm. [ h x w x d ] Material weathering steel 2x [ 10 x 10 mm.] 1x [ 12 x 12 mm.], wooden bars 1 x 1 cm., Nobo OHP Transparency Film, sided acid-free tape Filled with 1,000 images of explosions and ‘holiday clouds’ on 50 sheets codes super imposed on the images: unique location positioning from a military open source website; 1,000 images of waves | statistics Global Warming on 50 sheets; 1,000 images of destroyed houses | ground plans in the images: send to me - in 1996 on my request – from and of 72 national libraries The World Library Art Project on 50 sheets distant suffering XV | #1 - #7 | SYRIAN SKIES REVISITED [ 2,238 DAYS ] 17/05/’1940 – 17/05/2017 Work paper collages | 28 x 16,3 cm. mounted on 10 mm. & 5 mm. foam | 27/04/’17 - 29/04/’17 prints Canon MG6150 on 170 grs. matt photo paper 723 89 06 | Pritt original | double-sided acid-free tape Legend on all collages Idlib 30/08/’13 – de Volkskrant 27/12/2013 Middelburg | interior New Church / Abby Complex | May 1940 map | the bombarded centre [ 17/05/1940 ] of Middelburg Altorffer | Middelburg 1784 - 1969 - Roosendaal 1969 – map | ni-37-13-as_suwayda-syria-jordan photo | my lasered retina (right eye) | 2004 blood control strip | One Touch | 4122593 | 27/04/’17 – 28/04/’17 individual collages #1 | 1a Binnish | 05/09/2013 – de Volkskrant | 27/12/2013 #2 | 2a Damascus | 21/02/2013 – de Volkskrant | 27/12/2013 #3 | 3a Yabroud | 17/05/2013 – de Volkskrant | 27/12/2013 #4 | 4a Daraya | 15/10/2013 – de Volkskrant | 27/12/2013 #5 | 5a Damascus| 30/04/2013 – de Volkskrant | 27/12/2013 #6 | 6a Sarakeb | 04/09/2013 – de Volkskrant | 27/12/2013 #7 | 7a Damascus 30/06/2013 – de Volkskrant | 27/12/2013


documentation | exhibitions | selection


Willem3 | Vlissingen | 05/04’14 – 06/04/’14 W45 art space | Goes | 06/09/’14 – 27/09/’14 Mon Capitaine | Middelburg | 05/04/’15 – 26/04/’15 AFFAF | Café Spoorzicht – Arnemuiden | 9-10/10/’15 (WOOT) | Antwerpen | 10/10 ’15 – 28/11/’15 Mon Capitaine | Middelburg | 01/11/’15 – 24/01/’16 Exhibition in the public space of Middelburg | 21/04/16 studio seven | Vlissingen | 01/05/’16 – 12/05/’16 Art Gouda | het Weeshuis – Gouda | 02/06/’16 – 05/06/’16 Biënnale Amersfoort | Vreemde Gasten ( Foreign Guests ) | 1 & 2 oktober 2016 Theater De Fransche School | Culemborg | 23/10/’16 My Land- Israël I Palestina – film, debate & encounter Cultuurcentrum Bugge | April 27, 2017 – May 27, 2017 | Contribution to ‘Les Refugés’ Vleeshal | Middelburg | 30/04/2017 | So You Don't Get Lost in the Neighborhood Nieuwe Kerk Middelburg | Art Camping Syria Abby Complex | Middelburg | June – August 2017 | Iconoclastic Fury | group Willem Twee art space | DISTORTION | 07/01/’18 – 25/03/’18 Cultuurcentrum Bugge | 27/04 – 24/05/’18 | Contribution to ‘Play’ Winner category ‘series’ 2018 | Red Art Line Works


I know not what tomorrow will bring Fernando Pessoa June 13 1888 | November 30 1935 44

distant suffering 45

2018 | hans overvliet |distant suffering | portfolio  

2018 | hans overvliet |distant suffering | portfolio

2018 | hans overvliet |distant suffering | portfolio  

2018 | hans overvliet |distant suffering | portfolio