19_DISTANT SUFFERING #XIX | DISSECTION OF A DISAPPEARING CLOUD

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DISTANT SUFFERING #XIX | dissection of a disappearing cloud work in progress

2018 - 20 . . REMEMBERING THE SAID AL-MISHAL CULTURAL CENTRE GAZA CITY OBLITERATED BY THE ISRAELIAN DEFENCE FORCE ON AUGUST 9, 2018

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www.hansovervliet.com


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Without memory there is no limit to radical evil | Hannah Arendt 3


content edited | November 11, 2021 Introduction

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Works #0 #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 #7 #8 #9 #10 #11 #12 #14 #15

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DISTANT SUFFERING | justification

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Watermans Arts Centre in LondonGB Gallery Arsis in Bergen op Zoom art space ruimteCAESUUR in Middelburg Sea foundation in Tilburg de Roofprintpers in Middelburg Kunsthal 45 in Den Helder art space Biekorf of the CultureCentre in BrugesBE art space Markiezenhof in Bergen op Zoom INDEPENDENT ARTISTS GALLERY in in Busto Garolfo / MilanoIT Kunstpodium ‘T’ in Tilburg This Art Fair in the Kromhouthallen in Amsterdam LUXFER Gallery, Česká SkaliceCZ Juxtapose Art Fair in the Godsbanen Rå Hall in AarhusDK ‘t Blokhuis, Kattedijke


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On August 9, 2018 in Gaza City the Said al-Mishal Cultural Centre Gaza was obliterated in a bomb strike by the Israel Defence Forces. Of course under the pretext that the building was used by the Hamas terror organization for military purposes, a pretext always used in acts of war crimes 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 dance school for some 250 children. It is a devastating loss for the isolated, incarcerated Palestinian 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 Britain, fourteen leading playwrights and the some art 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. quences often play only an illustrative role in the virtual 6 media., in

But the visual documentation of the explosion and its consequences often play only an illustrative role in the virtual media. Although the explosion is also a very 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. This work DISTANT SUFFERING #XIX / 0 | DISSECTION OF A DISAPPEARING CLOUD functions as the starting point of a work in progress. It uses non-digital, paper based and thereby physical media to foreground materiality and scale of the event. The cloud of the explosion is isolated, and due to its seize, 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 Centre 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


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. It creates an immersive, material environment that opposes the easy framing as information detached from physical and possibly empathetic experience that is facilitated by the presentation of a digital image on a screen while reading a news website. With the art series DISTANT SUFFERING #V | dissection of a disappearing cloud, I want to connect the art places both physically and mentally in which I worked and/or where I exhibited my art work. Each artwork of DISSECTION OF A DISAPPEARING CLOUD is painted with dirt or soil from the [ art ] space, combined with the debris of the Said al-Mishal Cultural Cen-tre Gaza, dissolved in extremely diluted East-Indian ink and Arabic gum on Simili Japon, 225 grs. 96,0 x 65,0 cm. in a wooden frame of 101,0 x 68,5 x 5,5 cm. dissection of a disappearing cloud is part of the project DISTANT SUFFERING, a work in progress that I started in 2013.

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

See also https://youtu.be/vutHocL1ZYo https://youtu.be/QVOnuK85MYA 7


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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 #1 | syrian skies 1,000 days

Daraya | 2013 Canon MP-101 170 gr., A4 10 mm. Dibond

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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

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DISTANT SUFFERING XIX 0 | dissection of a disappearing cloud nine parts March 26 - April 26, 2019 total dimensions work | h x w x d - 287,7 x 192,9 x 4,5 cm. Cloud, painted with the actual rubble from the spot in Gaza where annihilated Mishal Cultural Centre was situated, in extremely diluted East-Indian ink & Arabic gum on Simili Japon, 225 grs. 96,0 x 65,0 cm. in nine wooden frames, each 97,9 x 66,3 x 4,5 cm. Connecting the Said al-Mishal Cultural Centre Gaza - obliterated 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. For this opening piece of the art-series I asked my friend and colleague 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 used the rubble to paint a large scale representation of the dust cloud that accompanied the explosion of the centre, 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 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. 11


Watermans Art Centre | London | ©photo 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 12


Watermans Art Centre | London | ©photo Dani Ploeger | 06/09/2019

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Photos | ©2019 Christine Veraart courtesy of Gallery Arsis

Watermans Art Centre | London | ©photo Dani Ploeger | 06/09/2019


Watermans Art Centre | London | ©photo Dani Ploeger | 06/09/2019

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Watermans Art Centre | London | ©photo Dani Ploeger | 06/09/2019


Watermans Art Centre | London | ©photo Dani Ploeger | 06/09/2019

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Watermans Art Centre | London | ©photo Dani Ploeger | 06/09/2019


Watermans Art Centre | London | ©photo Dani Ploeger | 06/09/2019

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Watermans Art Centre | London | ©photo Dani Ploeger | 06/09/2019


Watermans Art Centre | London | ©photo Dani Ploeger | 06/09/2019

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Watermans Art Centre | London | ©photo Dani Ploeger | 06/09/2019


Watermans Art Centre | London | ©photo Dani Ploeger | 06/09/2019

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Watermans Art Centre | London | ©photo Dani Ploeger | 06/09/2019


Watermans Art Centre | London | ©photo Dani Ploeger | 06/09/2019

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Watermans Art Centre | London | ©photo Dani Ploeger | 06/09/2019


Watermans Art Centre | London | ©photo Dani Ploeger | 06/09/2019

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DISTANT SUFFERING (2013-) is an ongoing series of art works 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 from 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 documenttation. 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 and safety of the art space and the role of the art producer and the art consumer. 28

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 himself to me, although it doesn’t amuse me at all. This beauty calls me to transfer the ‘evil’ into the innocent, being the amoral domain the art. Art critic Nico Out articulated the relationship artwork / Luc Boltanski in a review of my work in the 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 impermanence 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 Nico 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 Ha-wajri.

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Julia Mulié , Assistant Curator Vleeshal, Middelburg, 28/11/2016 2 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 critic Nico Out | PZC | 09/11/’14 29


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DISTANT SUFFERING XIX 0 was exhibited in London from 6-20 Sep-

DISTANT SUFFERING XIX

tember 2019 and ran in parallel with the D.R.H.A. conference in the Watermans Arts Centre. Thanks to Mohammed Al hawajri, Suus, Ingrid Rollema, Giel Louws, Willy van Houtum & Dani Ploeger. Curator: Klio Krajewska.

DISTANT SUFFERING XIX 6 was exhibited in art space Brugotta Hal

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. In cooperation with Museum Gouda, the Markiezenhof in Bergen op Zoom, Gemeentemuseum Het Hannemahuis in Harlingen, the West-fries Museum in Hoorn and the Stedelijk Museum Zutphen. Thanks to Arsis: Maarten van ’t Hof & Christine Veraart. DISTANT SUFFERING XIX 2 was exhibited in art space 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 during the 3-days performance DISTANT SUFFERING XIV i.d. of a shared cloud #2 | the ‘book’.

Thanks to curator Riet van Gerven & Giel Louws. 4

DISTANT SUFFERING XIX was exhibited in de Roofprintpers in Mid-

delburg in February 2019. Thanks to Leni van den Berge. 30

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was exhibited in KUNSTHAL45 in Den Helder in June 2019 during the 3-days performance DISTANT SUFFERING XIV | i.d. of a shared cloud #2 | the ‘book’. Thanks to curator Margo van der Pool. Biekorf in Brughes, Belgium in May - June 2020 during AiR Biekorf 4.0: Comédie de la condition humaine. Thanks to curator Jan Verhaeghe. DISTANT SUFFERING XIX 7 was created due to the exhibition ‘Cool

Waters’ in art space Markiezenhof in Bergen op Zoom during the exhibition in the M5-art project ‘Art from the Low Lands’ in November 2020 – June 2021. In cooperation with Museum Gouda, the Markiezenhof in Bergen op Zoom, Gemeentemuseum Het Hannemahuis in Harlingen, the Westfries Museum in Hoorn and the Stedelijk Museum Zutphen. Thanks to Arsis: Maarten van ’t Hof & Christine Veraart of Arsis. DISTANT SUFFERING XIX 8 was created due to the exhibitions in the INDEPENDENT ARTISTS GALLERY in Busto Garolfo / Milano in Italy where I participated in the art projects KABUTAR and (MEN OF) STREET ART, respectively in August 2019 and in October

2020. Thanks to curators / organizers Mehreen Hashmi, Manuel Zoia & Martina Buttiglieri.


DISTANT SUFFERING XIX 9 was created due to the exhibition Steal

DISTANT SUFFERING XIX 14

like an Artist! in Kunstpodium ‘T’ in Tilburg in October 2 – October 28, 2020 in cooperation with Lost Painters. Thanks to curator Niek Hendrix. 10

DISTANT SUFFERING XIX

was created due to the exhibition in Amsterdam in 2021 during This Art Fair in the Kromhouthallen, May 2021, which was cancelled due to Corona. Thanks to Eva Langerak. DISTANT SUFFERING XIX 11 was created for the exhibition in LUXFER OPEN SPACE, iČeská Skalice, Czech Republic, June - August 2021.

Thanks to Roman Rejhold & Kate Štroblová.

DISTANT SUFFERING XIX 12 was created due to the exhibition in Aar-

hus, Denmark in 2021 during the Juxtapose Art Fair in the Godsbanen Rå hall, June 2021 in which I participated with DISTANT SUFFERING XVIII, defacing palestine | the Nakba 1948-2018 and I.D. of a shared bullet. Thanks to Sasha Rose Richter. DISTANT SUFFERING XIX

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DISTANT SUFFERING XIX

is non existent for obvious reasons.

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is a reminder of the demolished artspace ‘t Blokhuis Kattendijke, an art space by the artists André Smits and Monika Dahlberg, while showing a part of DISTANT SUFFERING VI | i.d. of a shared key. Thanks to André Smits. 31


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DISTANT SUFFERING #XIX | DISSECTION OF A DISAPPEARING CLOUD work in progress

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

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2018 - 2021 | www.hansovervliet.com