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DISTANT SUFFERING #XIX | DISSECTION OF A DISAPPEARING CLOUD

WORK IN PROGRESS

REMEMBERING THE SAID AL-MISHAL CULTURAL CENTER | GAZA CITY PULVERIZED BY THE ISARELIAN DEFENCE FORCE ON AUGUST 9, 2018

www.hansovervliet.com


Without memory there is no limit to radical evil | Hannah Arendt


On August 9, 2018 in Gaza City the Said al-Mishal Cultural Center Gaza was oblitorated in a bomb strike by the Israel Defence Forces. Of course under the pretext that the building was being used by ‘the Hamas terror organization for military purposes’, a pretext always used in acts of war like this one. But in truth it is a war against every part of the Palestinian identity. Since its establishment in 2004, Al-Mishal served as a home for hundreds of plays, ceremonies, exhibits, musical performances and national ceremonies. It was the venue of choice for theatre companies in Gaza and a space for Gaza’s top musical acts. The centre also included recreational activities for children who were affected by three successive wars in Gaza, including the first dabkeh (dance)school for some 250 children. It is a devastating loss for the isolated, incarcerated community. And of course there was hardly any international protest response. Neither from ‘politicians’ nor from ‘governments’, nor from the ( international ) art scene. Only in Great Brittain, fourteen leading playwrights and theatre directors, including Mike Bartlett, Caryl Churchill, Vicky Featherstone and Rufus Norris, described the great rage and deep pain of their Palestinian friends and colleagues. The rest of the art world non-acted in deafening silence. So, this event mainly existed as a media event, embedded in a web of interrelated, opposing, contradictory political readings and interests and thereby was embedded in different networks of meaning involved in the broader conflict. But the visual documentation of the explosion and its consequences often play only an illustrative role in the virtual media., in

quences often play only an illustrative role in the virtual media. Although the explosion is also a real, physical event, in which material is destroyed and people are hurt. This aspect is easy to downplay when watching the images online in the context of news reports. The explosion is quickly perceived merely as an image, a set of information, a cloud of data that is contained by the digital platform that one watches on a small screen. The image hardly provokes an embodied experience, is easy to watch as an 'effect' or semiotic as in ‘a movie’ and more or less take for granted as 'another' violent event. The new work DISTANT SUFFERING #XIX / 0 | DISSECTION OF A DISAPPEARING CLOUD | difference & repetition #2* functions as the general starting point of this art-series. It uses non-digital, paper based and thereby fysical media to foreground materiality and scale of the event. The cloud of the explosion is isolated, becomes an immersive world of its own for a moment. This composed work measures 293,7 x 198,9 x 4,4 cm.; it towers high above you. The image is fragmented into nine parts. The analogy of the small screen emerges. The use of water on not clamped paper, tinted with actual debris from the ruins of the Said al-Mishal Cultural Center Gaza – including the plastic bag in which it was collected - gives the art work a material dimension that exceeds its representative qualities. One needs to spend some time with it: it's large but the details of the dust are fine. The dirt gives a sense of an indexical, rather than symbolic, connection with the site of the horrific explosion.


than symbolic, connection with the site of the horrific explosion. It creates an immersive, material environment that opposes the easy framing as information detached from fysica and possibly empathetic experience that is facilitated by the presentation of a digital image on a screen while reading a news website.

* The subtitle difference & repetition # 2 refers to the dissertation of the same name by Gilles Deleuze. Published: 1968 (Presses Universitaires de France)

Stephan Sanders1 in De Volkskrant observed ‘Almost naturally - as Deleuze observes - we are reducing the world to our ideas about it and are therefore already saying goodbye to the material reality in advance. We think in abstract, general terms ("the world", "matter", "the self") - perhaps precisely when we are deeply convinced not to leave everyday reality with our ordinary language.’ ‘People have locked themselves in the difference: the ethnic, sexual, religious, gender and clan differences - and the world looks more ominous than ever.’ With the art series DISTANT SUFFERING #V | DISSECTION OF A DISAPPEARING CLOUD, I want to connect mentally the art places where I work on and/or where I exhibit my art work, and/or in which the suffering was very close by. DISSECTION OF A DISAPPEARING CLOUD is part of the project DISTANT SUFFERING, am art work in progress that I started in 2013.

1

Stephan Sanders | De Volkskrant | Ruthless philosophical acrobatics, August 14, 2009

August 9, 2018 | Gaza City | Mishal Cultural Center Photo ©2018 | AFP Photo/MAHMUD HAMS (the work is based on the main black cloud in this image)


DISTANT SUFFERING #XIX | DISSECTION OF A DISAPPEARING CLOUD from an art historical perspective is

of course also inspired by the paintings of the Dutch masters from the 17th century, in which the 'Dutch skies' dominated the painted landscape.

Jacob van Ruisdael (1628/29 - 1682) detail of The mill at Wijk bij Duurstede | ca. 1670 32.66 x 39.75 "│ Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

distant suffering # I SYRIAN SKIES 1,000 days Daraya | 2013 Canon MP-101 170 gr., A4 10 mm. Dibond


Jan van Goyen ( 1596 – 1656 ) An Estuary Scene | 1652 - 1654 73 x 53 cm. | private collection

Aelbert Cuyp ( 1620 – 1691 ) Thunderstorm over Dordrecht | ca. 1645 107 x 77.5 | Foundation E.G. Bührle Collection | Zurich


Gaza City | January 26, 2018 the spot where the SAID AL-MISHAL CULTURAL CENTER stood photo’s ©2019 | Mohammed Al hawajri

Soil collected by Suzanne Groothuis Plastic bag recovered by Mohammed Al hawajri Debris arrived in Middelburg on March 26, 2019 postiljon d’amour | Ingrid Rollema


DISTANT SUFFERING # XIX / 0 DISSECTION OF A DISAPPEARING CLOUD

difference & repetition #2

nine parts March 26 - April 26, 2019 total dimensions work | 287,7 x 192,9 cm. Cloud, actually painted with rubbble from the spot in Gaza where annihilated Mishal Cultural Center was situated, in extremely diluted East-Indian ink & Arabic gum on Simili Japon, 225 grs. 96,0 x 65,0 cm. in nine wooden frame, each 97,9 x 66,3 x 4,5 cm. Connecting the Said al-Mishal Cultural Center Gaza - oblitorated in a bomb strike by the Israel Defence Forces on August 9, 2018 with the Watermans Arts Centre in London. Shown in the exhibition RADICAL IMMERSIONS. Curated by Klio Krajewska. The exhibition took place from 6 - 20 September 2019 and ran in parallel with the Digital Research in the Humanities and Arts [ D.R.H.A. ] conference. This art-series approaches the Said al-Mishal bombardment as a material event. For the first piece I asked my friend and collegue Mohammed Al hawajri in Gaza City to collect dust and dirt from the spot with the remains of the building and send this to me. I mixed the dust with water and used it to paint a large scale representation of the dust cloud that accompanied the explosion of the center, based on a photo I saw in the news when I learned about the bombardment. The painting consists of nine panels, which will be installed on the wall in wooden frames. The supermarket bag in which the dust was collected is presented in front of the painting. The physical presence of material from the actual explosion establishes an indexical connection with the site of the horrific explosion, rather than the often symbolic function of news media imagery. The large format of the work, 3 x 2 meters, evokes a sense of immersion whilst one studies the small details of the bobbly paper.


Watermans Art Centre | London | Šphoto Dani Ploeger | 06/09/2019

Preliminary study | moch up, March 26, 2019 Cloud, painted with rubble from the site where the SAID AL-MISHAL CULTURAL CENTER stood in extremely diluted East-Indian ink & Arabic gum on 64,5 x 48 cm. Simili Japon, 225 grs. Next pages: parts of the nine-piece work | details


Watermans Art Centre | London | Šphoto Dani Ploeger | 06/09/2019


2

DISTANT SUFFERING # XIX / 1

DISSECTION OF A DISAPPEARING CLOUD

difference & repetition #2

triptych September 8 - September 14, 2018 exhibition Gallery Arsis | Bergen op Zoom | 2019. work Cloud, painted with dirt from my studio in studio complex Kipvis, in extremely diluted East-Indian ink & Arabic gum on Simili Japon, 225 grs. 96,0 x 65,0 cm. in three wooden frames, each 97,9 x 66,3 x 4,5 cm., dyed matt white. content Connecting the Said al-Mishal Cultural Center Gaza - oblitorated in a bomb strike by the Israel Defence Forces on August 9, 2018 with the studio complex Kipvis in Vlissingen & Gallery Arsis in Bergen op Zoom. Photos | Š2019 Christine Veraart | courtesy of Gallery Arsis


DISTANT SUFFERING # XIX / 2 DISSECTION OF A DISAPPEARING CLOUD

difference & repetition #2

diptych November 18 - November 25, 2018 Cloud, painted with dirt from the garden of art space ruimteCAESUUR, in extremely diluted East-Indian ink & Arabic gum on Simili Japon, 225 grs. 96,0 x 65,0 cm. in three wooden frames, each 97,9 x 66,3 x 4,5 cm., dyed matt black. Connecting the Said al-Mishal Cultural Center Gaza - oblitorated in a bomb strike by the Israel Defence Forces on August 9, 2018 with art space ruimteCAESUUR in Middelburg. Photo: detail


DISTANT SUFFERING # XIX / 3 DISSECTION OF A DISAPPEARING CLOUD

difference & repetition #2

one piece September 17 - September 27, 2018 Cloud, painted with soil from the garden of de Sea foundation, in extremely diluted East-Indian ink & Arabic gum on Simili Japon, 225 grs. 96,0 x 65,0 cm. in three wooden frames, each 101,0 x 68,5 x 5,5 cm., dyed mat white [RAL 710]. Connecting the Said al-Mishal Cultural Center Gaza - oblitorated in a bomb strike by the Israel Defence Forces on August 9, 2018 with de Sea foundation in Tilburg. Photo | ©2018 Riet van Gerven | courtesy of Sea foundation


DISTANT SUFFERING #XIX/ 4

DISSECTION OF A DISAPPEARING CLOUD

difference & repetition #2

triptych January 2 - January 14, 2019 Cloud, painted with soil from the garden of de Roofprintpers, in extremely diluted East-Indian ink & Arabic gum on Simili Japon, 225 grs. 96,0 x 65,0 cm. in three wooden frames, each 101,0 x 68,5 x 5,5 cm., dyed mat white [RAL 710]. Connecting the Said al-Mishal Cultural Center Gaza - oblitorated in a bomb strike by the Israel Defence Forces on August 9, 2018 with de Roofprintpers in Middelburg. Photo | ©2019 Leni van den Berge | courtesy of de Roofprintpers


DISTANT SUFFERING #XIX / 5

DISSECTION OF A DISAPPEARING CLOUD

difference & repetition #2

diptych April 22 – April 30, 2019 Cloud, painted with soil from the art space Kunsthal 45 in Den Helder, in extremely diluted East-Indian ink & Arabic gum on Simili Japon, 225 grs. 96,0 x 65,0 cm. in three wooden frames, each 97,9 x 66,3 x 4,5 cm., dyed black [RAL 9005, mat]. Connecting the Said al-Mishal Cultural Center Gaza - oblitorated in a bomb strike by the Israel Defence Forces on August 9, 2018 with the art space Kunsthal 45 in Den Helder. Photo: detail


DISTANT SUFFERING #XIX/ 6 DISSECTION OF A DISAPPEARING CLOUD

difference & repetition #2

one piece January25 – 31, 2020 Cloud, painted with soil from the garden of the art space Biekorf of the Culturecentre Bruges in Belgium, collected on 10/01/’19, mixed with extremely diluted East-Indian ink & Arabic gum on Simili Japon, 225 grs. 96,0 x 65,0 cm. in wooden frame, 97,9 x 66,3 x 4,5 cm., black dye [RAL 9005, mat]. Connecting the Said al-Mishal Cultural Center Gaza - oblitorated in a bomb strike by the Israel Defence Forces on August 9 2018 - with the 150th anniversary of the Bruges city theater & the art space Brugotta Hal Biekorf in which the exhibition AiR Biekorf 4.0, Comedy of the human deficit - Comédie de la condition humaine by Geertje Vangenechten, curated by Jan Verhaeghe, was exhibited. Photo: detail


DISTANT SUFFERING #XIX / 7

DISSECTION OF A DISAPPEARING CLOUD

difference & repetition #2

one piece February 2020 Cloud, painted with soil from the garden of the art space in Verona, in extremely diluted East-Indian ink & Arabic gum on Simili Japon, 225 grs. 96,0 x 65,0 cm. in wooden frames 97,9 x 66,3 x 4,5 cm., dyed black [RAL 9005, mat]. Connecting the Said al-Mishal Cultural Center Gaza - oblitorated in a bomb strike by the Israel Defence Forces on August 9, 2018 with the art spaces in Pakistan, Italy, France, Turkey and The Netherlands in which the exhibitions of the art-project Kabutar, curated by Mehreen Hashmi, was exhibited. Photo: detail


distant suffering (2013-) is an ongoing series of art that investigates the role of the media in the representation of military violence and memory.

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.

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 from the spectator to gaze intently at them, in order to instigate in the viewer a new awareness about the images around them. 1

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

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 neutrallity & 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.

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 non-paternalistic empathy is the performative part of the series distant suffering. For their inspiration and support I deeply thank Willy van Houtum, Giel Louws, Dani Ploeger, Ingrid Rollema and Mohammed Al Hawajri. 1

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


COLOPHON DISTANT SUFFERING #XIX / 0 was exhibited from 6-20 September 2019

and ran in parallel with the D.R.H.A. conference in Watermans Arts Centre, London. CURATOR | Klio Krajewska Thanks to Mohammed Al hawajri, Suus, Ingrid Rollema, Giel Louws & Dani Ploeger.

DISTANT SUFFERING # XIX / 6

is exhibited in art space Brugotta Hal Biekorf during AiR Biekorf 4.0 - Comédie de la condition humaine in May-June 2020. Thanks to curator Jan Verhaeghe.

DISTANT SUFFERING # XIX / 7 DISTANT SUFFERING # XIX / 1 in

September 2018 was selected by a jury to participate in the M5-art project ‘Art from the Low Lands’ in Arsis Gallery in Bergen op Zoom in April / May 2019. Thanks to Maarten van ’t Hof & Christine Veraart . DISTANT SUFFERING # XIX / 2 was exhibited in artspace ruimteCAESUUR

in Middelburg in November 2018. Thanks to Willy van Houtum. DISTANT SUFFERING # XIX / 3 was exhibited in the Sea foundation

in Tilburg in October 2018. Thanks to Riet van Gerven & Giel Louws. DISTANT SUFFERING # XIX / 4 was exhibited in de Roofprintpers

in Middelburg in February 2019. Thanks to Leni van den Berge. DISTANT SUFFERING # XIX / 5 was

exhibited in KUNSTHAL 45 in Den Helder in June 2019. Thanks to Margo van der Pool | curator

is exhibited in Verone in 2020.


DISTANT SUFFERING #XIX / 1 – ∞ DISSECTION OF A DISAPPEARING CLOUD

difference & repetition #2

REMEMBERING THE SAID AL-MISHAL CULTURAL CENTER | GAZA CITY PULVERIZED BY THE ISARELIAN DEFENCE FORCE ON AUGUST 9, 2018

2018 - 2020 | www.hansovervliet.com

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19_DISTANT SUFFERING #XIX / | DISSECTION OF A DISAPPEARING CLOUD | difference & repetition #2

19_DISTANT SUFFERING #XIX | DISSECTION OF A DISAPPEARING CLOUD | difference & repetition #2  

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