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 differrent 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 of the images around them. 1
From a thematic perspective distant suffering is about art, violence, war and 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.
Art critic Nico Out3 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 get an extra charge. In “Anatomy of a Cloud” and “Syrian Skies’ he refers subdued and in a penetrating way to the destructtion 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 an intense black plume of smoke five times; I suddenly I breathe a little different. . . .
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.
The poetry in distant suffering is inspired by Kahlil Gibran4, especially his poem from The Garden of The Prophet :
xxxxxxxxxxPity the nation divided into fragments
xxxxxxxxxxeach fragment deeming itself a nation.
The transition into art is inspired by the Dutch Artist Armando5: 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, because of the amoral domain which is art.
Out seamlessly connects 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.
1 Julia Mulié , Assistant Curator Vleeshal, Middelburg, 28/11/2016
2 Cambridge Cultural Social Studies | ISBN 97-8052-1573-894
3 Art section | PZC | 09/11/’14
4 Lebanese-American artist, philosopher and writer.The book was originally published in 1923 by Alfred A. Knopf.
5 Armando, Acknowledgements About Beauty, 1987