Since 2013, by means of the ongoing art-series distant suffering, the Dutch artist Hans Overvliet (Leiden, 1952) investigates the role of the media in their representation of (military) violence. This, in the context of themes as perception, memory and identity formation.
Overvliet uses a various range of media, symbols and codes, bringing together seemingly dichotomies like beauty and violence, refinement and brutality, the sublime and the vulgar.
Aspects of power, politics, exclusion, censorship and the connection between artist, artwork and viewer infiltrate his multifaceted conceptual oeuvre. The language-image relationship and references to (art) history are always present.
As a reporter, Overvliet was an eyewitness to the events in the Middle East during the 1980s. Of course these experiences resonate in distant suffering.
The transition into art is inspired by the Dutch Artist Armando: 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 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 of art. (Armando, Acknowledgements About Beauty, 1987)
The action driven perspective that is included in the approach of Hannah Arendt’s non-paternalistic empathy is the performative part of the series distant suffering.
Elements of distant suffering were exhibited in the Netherlands, Belgium, Pakistan, Italy, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Sweden and England.
Hans Overvliet was born in Leiden in 1952; he lives in Midelburg and works in Vlissingen in the province of Zeeland in the South-West of the Netherlands. Next to his art-work he is, together with his wife Willy van Houtum, the founder and every day guardian of the 27-year old space for contemporary art in Middelburg: ruimteCAESUUR.
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