East meets West

An artproject about liberty

Jacob Bos  worries about the negative news in media about refugees. He worried more about it after the news from shouting Dutch people in Steenbergen last year. This was during a meeting going on about a new AZC coming to Steenbergen. After this news in the media he got an idea: there has to be a positive signal about refugees in the media. Already he started working on this idea. In the spring there will be an art exposition from Dutch artist and artist from ACZ’s. The theme will be liberty. After this exposition more places will follow. Also Meppel wants to start this project. They are looking for a location to have the exposition, for a month for free.

photo © Andre Weima

“When I see the images on tv, I feel horrible.” Says Bos. “Every time I have tot think about the song ‘Over De Muur’ from Harry Jekkers: … “And only the birds are flying from East to West-Berlin, No one call’s them back, no on shoots them. Across the wall, across the iron curtain, sometimes they go to the east”… Now 25 years later they are building a new wall. From barbed wire. And also like in the song only birds can fly where ever they want. that is not what Europe shout be about! This is a step backwards in time!


Bos contacted AZC Hoogeveen. “I wanted to do something about this. I thought there will be artists among the refugees. I want to meet those persons, tell them about my idea and ask them to work together with me. Bouke Brouwer (a case worker at the AZC) told me about Mahmoud al Nahas, a young Artist from Damascus. He was the only artist in AZC Hoogeveen at that moment. We met and he came a number of times to my house where we had a few good conversations. We had a connection.”

Everybody smiles here

Bos told his collegue-artist Mahoud about his idea and took him to a society for artist in Meppel. “Here I met Mahmoud for the first time,” told Peter van der Veen. “He is a very very nice person. After the society Jacob and Mahmoud went to my house to think about ideas for the exposition.” Two weeks later he took Mahmoud to an exposition. “He had never been to such a exposition and he enjoyed it. The most he liked was the contact with the people. His English is very good and he is approachable. Do you know what I remember the most of all? At a moment Mahmoud told me ‘Everybody smiles here’. I didn’t realize it but for him it was very special. For him it’s not self-evident to see laughing and happy people.” Meanwhile the idea about the art project together was going well. “There has to be a theme,” continued Van der Veen. “We get inspired by the song of Harry Jekkers. What does freedom means to us and what means it to people from the Middle-East? You can put your feelings in art. And it’s very interesting to see this from different sides. I’m member of a artgroup in Meppel. One of them is a Chinese man ‘Zhongnai’from Mongolia. You can see very clear the difference between his ‘look’ and ours. This is very interesting. After the exposition in Hoogeveen we wil do the same in Meppel. Refugees are also a hot topic here because in future they will live also in Meppel. We have to find a location for the exposition.

Looking for location

In Hoogeveen the plans are almost finished. “One of the artists who is joining the project is Ivo Winnubst from Elim,” told Bos. “This project will be the first in Hoogeveen and after this other city’s in The Netherlands will do the same. The idea is to have the exposition with 3 or 4 Dutch artists and 3 artists from Syria. First we will do it only with Syrian people because that’s easier because of the language. Perhaps next time there will be people from Eritrea, Mali or other country’s. You can think about different kinds of art. It doesn’t matter but it must make the exposition positive. East meets west. We hope to make the distance smaller and Learn to understand each other. Because unknown makes unloved. We hope to start the exposition this spring but we are looking for a location. We hope to stay one month for free. If anyone knows a location? Please contact us?”

© Monique Bons