CV & shows

Kaleidoscopic horror - Introduction to an exhibition of Maarten van der Heijden


[. . .] In the digital prints of Maarten, in the "tissues" and the "grotesques" for example, the horror of the genocide is shown in an indirect manner. There is both justice to Adorno's idea that this event is too comprehensive to represent, as to the temptation to capture 'the inconceivable' in an aesthetic image. Much of the work seems at first glance to consist of only abstract and decorative patterns that mirror each other symmetrically in every possible way. But who zooms in on the details is suddenly confronted by the terrifying images of the corpses.


I think Maarten is not accidentally using this cinematic technique of "zooming in". It gives him namely an opportunity to apply a time dimension to the mode of experiencing the works: on the one hand the images are hidden from view and the forgetting is cultivated, on the other hand they are suddenly visible and the remembering is activated. Nor is it coincidental that by the same reason Maarten is using that other cinematic technique of 'montage'. This allows him to confront in the same image different moments of horror from history and art history.


It seems not only to deal with self-contained images, but also with the process of reflection that these images are puting into effect. In that sense, Maarten's work is conceptual and linked to a question: how can an artistic form be given to our confrontation with a diversity of available image fragments and factual reports concerning the Holocaust. How can be prevented that the memory of the genocide dies away. It is not enough to fix this horrible event in time. Maarten's kaleidoscopic visual strategy invites on the contrary to the moving in time. In turn to the past and the future.


I want to conclude my introduction with a paraphrase of a sentence from 'Le Differend' of the French philosopher Jean Fran├žois Lyotard, that I have come to in the thesis of Maarten: "Sublime Sublimation of the Shoah?" A thesis that seeks to provide a theoretical basis for the visual work: 'To do justice to the Holocaust one must phrase the event in such a way that it remains open to future determination since to do otherwise would be to assume that one has already understood the event and thus consumed it as an object of knowledge.' This challenge is taken seriously in the works of Maarten.


Art historian Frank Reijnders (pronounced on May 8, 2011 in Bornse Synagogue)