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Eindhoven, 28th of March 2014

"Intervention with the Flag of Compassion / Van Abbemuseum goes Compassion."

Performers: Petrine Clausen, Jakob Ehrlich, Simon Skatka Lindell, Andy Woortman, Lotte van der Woude

This artist statement focuses on an intervention that took place during the so-called Young Art Night at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven. The intervention in the Van Abbemuseum is part of a larger art project that is called "Flag of Compassion", managed and administrated by the Unda Foundation. The main aim of the project is to activate, encourage and challenge people to do something with the Flag of Compassion and through image and text to load this concept/idea/artwork with new meanings. The Van Abbemuseum invited the project “Flag of Compassion” to be a part of this edition of the Young Art Night.

We, 5 Fine Arts students of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, were challenged to contemplate the concept of compassion and to create a work that would be shown during this evening. Each student had a different motivation to participate, but the common interest was a commitment to the idea of compassion within the context of a museum.

The intervention took place on two locations: outside and inside the museum. Outside the museum, at the entrance, we handed out wristbands that were in fact shreds from the Flag of Compassion. Inside, by the staircase, we hung a big print of the official manifesto of "Flag of Compassion" on the wall. Next to it, five Flags on poles leaned against the wall and at the start of the stairs stood a pedestal with flyers of the Manifesto for everyone to take.
The handing out of the wristbands at the entrance was an important part of the work. The act of knotting required that we interacted with the audience of the Van Abbemuseum. We made eye contact with them, we chitchatted and touched their hands in a slight intimate way. The act of knotting often consisted out of three phases: we asked for their hands, we turned their hand so that the back of their hands was on the table and we tied the knot by making a small bow. All the visitors of the Van Abbemuseum had an entrance stamp on their wrists, so while tying the wristbands around peoples wrists, we received traces of the stamps on our hands. This small, intimate exchange was an integral part of our interaction with the visitors.
Inside by the staircase, where we placed the Manifesto and the five Flags, we wanted to create a moment for the visitor to comprehend the message of the Flag. Ideally the visitors would make the connection between the Flag and the wristband. We arranged a small info-booth next to the staircase. Visitors could ask us questions about the Flag of Compassion and they could also buy their own Flag.

An interesting aspect of the project is our position as a group towards the Flag with regard to the previous usage of the Flag in earlier presentations/interventions.
The distribution of the Flag itself is an important part of the project “Flag of Compassion”. This corresponded with our own interpretation of the word "compassion" which for us is about bringing this concept to people.
We, as autonomous group, formulated our own identity and artistic approach towards the concept of the Flag. We wanted to have an active role but at the same time wanted to merge with the structure of the museum.
The distribution of the Flag in the form of little parts from it, in the end, mirrored the whole structure of the project Flag of Compassion. It worked as a tool to bring compassion to everyone this night, but then on a smaller scale.





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