Encounter with Malyka

In the studio complex in Vlissingen in the Netherlands, where my studio is situated, an artwork of mine is located on an intermediate platform of the stairwell. From ground level, five steps lie between you and that work. It measures 144 x 244 centimetres.

The artwork is an enlargement of a paper collage, printed on Perspex; different images are cut out horizontally and pasted back and thus interlock into a new story with each other.

A group of twelve year old children of a primary school is visiting the complex in the context of an art education project.
A head scarfed girl sees the artwork and freezes in her movement. And she looks. After some time she takes the five steps up. Now she is standing still on the intermediate platform.
And she looks. Then she slowly walks forward. Somewhere in the jumble of images she has discovered the head scarfed girl. That girl stands with her arms wide spread amidst the rubble of a street somewhere in Syria. The iconic picture of a prisoner in the Abu Ghraib Prison is imminent.

Malyka, that’s her name, now touches the image almost with her nose; the artwork towering above her. Then she moves very, very slowly her hands together until her fingertips touch each other as if she was holding a sphere. Then her hands include the girl’s head in the collage. She is standing there, her hands protecting the head of the other head scarfed girl. Eye in eye.