Portraits

In Europe, everyday refugees who flee the wars and suppression in Africa and the middle-east arrive. The popular Greek holiday beaches have turned into landing stages for their small rubber boats, the stately train station of Milan is now overcrowded with refugees who are trying to travel further into Europe. The countries at the borders of Europe cry for help, the rest of Europe answers with words, not with actions.

So what is it that when we see these people in the news, we don’t feel compassion anymore? I’m shocked by the reactions I read in de comment-area under articles about this problem, but sometimes even more by my own indifference.

It is not an answer but the above question itself that made me make this serie of portraits. The faces are copies of people in old paintings of judgement day that were in or sent to hell. Most of the time these faces are small and seem insignificant, only there to make you fear your afterlife. But looking at them closely some of them start to generate compassion. I tried to give these portraits their individuality back by editing the pictures of their faces in a way that emphasizes their facial features and expressions and made them look vulnerable by making the portraits small and from clay or wax and by placing them on the floor.

Last week a great Dutch singer died at the age of 62. EU commissioner Frans Timmermans ended his speech in a debate about migration with a quote from this singer, Thé Lau. “Iedereen is van de wereld en de wereld is van iedereen” (difficult to translate: everybody belongs to the world/is entoxicated and the world belongs to everybody).

How many people are we going to send back to hell?

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