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Poster by artist Hans Overvliet does what many people cannot: travel By Myrthe Prins 12-07-20, 17:21 Source: PZC

Photo 2020© Lex De Meester

MIDDELBURG - How obvious is it that we can cross borders? Many Dutch people have only had to think about that question since the Corona crisis. Just now that we are less mobile, artist Hans Overvliet came up with a project that travels all over the world. “I saw a picture of a road in Zeeland Flanders with a concrete roadblock completed with a sign saying: forbidden for all traffic. I thought that was rather special ”, Hans Overvliet tells in ruimteCAESUUR, the contemporary art space on the Lange Noordstraat in Middelburg; a space that his partner Willy van Houtum and he have been managing since 1995. It fascinated the artist that borders were suddenly closed because of a virus. At the same time, this made him think about the naturalness with which we have traveled so far. “One of the things we are promised is that we can go anywhere. For example, if we want to go on holiday to Bali, we can. All over the world there is geard up a complete infrastructure to make coffee for us and cook food for us, etc. But for how many people this is actually true? Several hundred

million people can travel as tourists; billions of others have to stay in place in order to make coffee for the people who they welcome. ” Poster With all this in mind, a poster with items of luggage - including suitcases, backpacks and beach bags - began to take shape. Overvliet tells how he presented the concept to artist friends. "Someone said: there should be more expensive stuff. So I added a Louis Vuitton bag. But there are also plastic shopping bags on it, because there are people who cross a border with it, ” he explains. That was not the only way he used his international network of friends and artists. He decided to ask friends in different countries if they wanted to hang and photograph the poster in their public spaces. “That is also a part of my working method: I really enjoy doing things together with other people.” Gaza The project turned out to be infectious. Artists, friends and acquaintances from all over the world offered their help. The poster has already been photographed in dozens of places, including Scotland, North Macedonia and Gaza. That was easier in one place than in another, the artist gradually noticed. A poster that he sent to Antwerp took more than two weeks to get there. People in South America even advised against sending him the poster. "They said: it never will arrive. So they will download and print the poster themselves,” says Overvliet. “And then there is Mahmoud in Gaza … You have no idea how much effort it takes to make a copy in Gaza. And Tarek in Cairo cannot just put up a poster in public space, because he possibly is going to have problems with that.” It is clear that this layered project for Overvliet is more than a political statement. He is enthusiastic and a bit overwhelmed by the kindness with which people help him. "I have called it 'our project' two weeks into the proces, because it has been largely taken off my hands," he explains. “For example, I ask for a landscape photo, but some send pictures in portrait mode. I like that. I am the instigator, but the project belongs to everyone who works with me.” Until the end of August, the photos of the artwork Distant Suffering | i.d. of inequality you can see in the Wandelkerk of the Abbey Complex, Koorkerkhof 2 in Middelburg. Pictures that the next weeks come in, will be added along the way.

Exhibition ‘Distant Suffering | i.d. of inequality’ by Hans Overvliet in the Wandelkerk in the Abbey Complex in Middelburg © Hans Overvliet

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