Zij die hier zijn zijn van hier

Walter Swennen


Painting, 80 x 68 cm.
Materials: oil on canvas

Collection: Stad Antwerpen, in langdurige bruikleen in M HKA (Inv. no. SCA0039).

Walter Swennen is known for his radical, experiential and associative approach to painting and is active as a poet and painter. Often, his work is an interplay between word and image, and the painting Zij die hier zijn zijn van hier (Those who are here are from here), which may be seen as a written painting or as a painted text, is a striking example. The ambiguity is pursued in the text itself. What at first sight seems like a clear, slogan-like message becomes – after several readings – much less unequivocal. Who is referred to as ‘those’?

Following four murders that happened in Belgium in 2006, several musicians including Tom Barman of the band dEUS organised free music festivals around the country called 0110 on 1st October of the following year. The Antwerp section taking place on the Gedempte Zuiderdokken (Filled in Docks) and attracted 40,000 people. The sentiment was very much against racism, extremism and violence, yet the political party Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest) considered these festivals as being anti-Far Right and organised their own counter-festival. Several visual artists also organised an exhibition in solidarity with the 0110 festival titled Mute, for which Swennen made this painting.

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