Beyond the nation state

Deze slideshow vereist JavaScript.

Recently I came across a map of flags that looked like an Ardvanderlinden work of my brother and me. Nowadays we could on the internet easily find more maps made of flags. Above a selection. I think the first person who made this kind of works was Alighiero Boetti (1940). He is famous for a series of embroidered maps of the world created between 1971 and his death in 1994.


His Mappas reflect a changing geopolitical world from 1971 to 1994. A period that included among others the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Embroidered by up to 500 artisans in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the maps were the result of a collaborative process leaving the design to the geopolitical realities of the time, and the choice of colours to the artisans responsible for the embroidery. The maps delineate the political boundaries of the countries; some nations, such as Israel, are not represented because the Taliban regime of Afghanistan did not then recognize their existence. This quote of Boetti about his work is excellent:

“For me the work of the embroidered Mappa is the maximum of beauty. For that work I did nothing, chose nothing, in the sense that: the world is made as it is, not as I designed it, the flags are those that exist, and I did not design them; in short I did absolutely nothing; when the basic idea, the concept, emerges everything else requires no choosing.”

I do like Boetti’s Mappas and I find it interesting to see that flags and countries are changing; nation states are not given, they are fluid. In 2013 it is very clear that flags, countries and their borders are strictly human ideas that undermine the unity of life and are one of the main causes of inequality in the world. So, the big question is: what is beyond the nation state? What is next?

Handmade in Afghanistan

Deze slideshow vereist JavaScript.

‘Handmade in Afghanistan’ is the latest project by Ardvanderlinden (my brother and me). It’s a handmade Afghan carpet (190×295 cm); it’s partly Kelim, partly Persian carpet with the text ‘Ardvanderlinden made in Afghanistan’ (last words in Farsi).

We would like to thank Farshad Omidi-Karkani. Without his effort it wouldn’t have been possible to accomplish this project. More works to spread the message ‘ unity through identity’ coming soon.

The Art of Activism

Petr Pavlensky 2013

A couple of days ago Russian artist Petr Pavlensky made this intriguing activist artwork to protest against the legislative body (and the government) in Russia which he perceives as restrictive and repressive. He entwined barbed wire around his nude body whilst lying before the Legislative Assembly of Saint Petersburg.

Petr 2013

One year ago Petr maybe even made a more intriguing activist artwork. He sewed his mouth together in support of punk rock group Pussy Riot. He stated:

“Sewing up my mouth, I showed the situation of the contemporary artist in Russia, living in an environment where there’s a ban on publicity, the tightening of censorship and suppression of public statements in contemporary art.”

Strong statement. Impressive art. Thanks Petr. Keep up the good work.


Painting Has Changed My Life

These paintings continue to fascinate me, not because of their quality but because of their maker. First have a look.

Deze slideshow vereist JavaScript.

Do you know who is the painter? It is the 43rd President of the United States. These paintings are made by the man who started wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and after 9/11 spoke  the famous words: ‘go out and shop’. I find it quite remarkable that George W. Bush makes such innocent paintings after his heavy life. All the time I ask myself questions like ‘why dogs? Why not war victims? Or world problems?’

In an interview he tells: ‘Painting has changed my life’. Could I believe him? Did he really change? I don’t know. I hope George will make some paintings that show us the dark side of men in the near future. Painting is an excellent way to do self research. Go for it George! I’m looking forward for paintings that investigate power and destruction. Yes, you can!

Zero rupees en lovenotes

Regelmatig word ik geattendeerd op bijzondere vormen van geld. In deze blog bespreek ik er twee. Ten eerste, de zero rupee. Dit biljet is afkomstig uit India en wordt gebruikt om politieke corruptie te bestrijden. Hoe werkt het? Op het moment dat iemand wordt gevraagd smeergeld te betalen door bijvoorbeeld een ambtenaar, wordt een biljet van nul roepie overhandigd. Op het biljet staat:

“I promise to neither accept nor give bribe.” 


Slim bedacht en bovendien succesvol. Ten tweede, de lovenotes van kunstenaar Dadara. Deze biljetten kunnen worden gebruikt om liefde aan een transactie toe te voegen. Op de webshop staat:

“Use this lovenote to add some love to your payment. Not because of your love for money, but because of your love for the person or initiative you’re dealing with!”

love note

Beide vormen van geld maken glashelder dat onze standaard nationale valuta’s (euro’s, dollars, ponden, etc.) niet in staat zijn bepaalde waarden uit te drukken. Sterker nog, zij zijn totaal ongeschikt om de belangrijkste waarden in de wereld weer te geven. Nationale valuta zijn slechts middelen om economie mee te bedrijven en geen maatstaven voor de waarde van onze levens. Het hebben van veel euro’s of een hoog Bruto Binnenland Product betekent bijvoorbeeld niet dat er geen corruptie en veel liefde is. Economie is dan ook veel meer dan financiële transacties. Zero rupees en lovenotes dragen bij aan dit besef en dit maakt deze biljetten nog waardevoller.

De aarde wordt steeds lelijker

Afgelopen weekend bezocht ik de solo-expositie van de Amerikaanse kunstenaar Mark Dion in museum het Domein in Sittard. Een aanrader. Dion onderzoekt ecologische vraagstukken en de menselijke perceptie van natuur. Zijn verwachting is dat de aarde steeds lelijker gaat worden door toedoen van de mens. Onderstaand statement is scherp.

Een dag later moest ik Dion al gelijk geven. We wandelden op de Pietersberg. Deze berg op loopafstand van Maastricht is grotendeels afgegraven. Een symbool van lelijkheid. Op de terugweg naar huis werd het nog erger: overal zag ik grauwe bedrijventereinen, leegstaande kantoren en kil asfalt. Dion heeft gelijk. Schoondheid op aarde gaat langzaam verloren. Lelijkheid zegeviert.

Mark Dion_Het Domein

Awardvanderlinden 2012

Year after year humans hand out awards and prizes to each other. Every year thousands of award shows are organized worldwide; tens of thousands of awards are handed out. It’s becoming more and more. Like we live on an ever expanding amount of success. But what do awards tell us? What do we celebrate? Who decides who wins? Who defines success?

Awardvanderlinden 2012 is a project to question the idea of success and the meaning of awards. For the third year in a row (a fragement of 2010 and a summary of 2011) we made a movie to show the endless repetition of “success”. For 5,5 hours we read 2012 Award-winners in 2012. Repetition makes things meaningless. Repetition destroys concepts. Concepts are not true. Success is a concept. It’s not real; it is not eternal; it depends on time and space. The more categories we have, the more likely it is to win an award and the emptier the concept gets.

While growing older we have experienced success is a deceitful concept. Being successful in a certain field does not mean that you are good at life or that you know the true life. The idea of short term succes even triggers people to take irresponsible risks, Lance Armstrong and Bernard Madoff are just two examples. The personal interest to be successful in the short term and the common good in the long term conflict quite often. We, human beings, have to broaden our worldview to become full and to keep society liveable. So, we should ask ourselves (even if we win an award): is our success a real contribution to society or a delusion to satisfy our own needs?

Roel and Martijn van der Linden

Portret MJvdL

Portret MJvdL_2012

Vanmorgen trof ik deze foto aan in mijn mailbox. Het is een foto van een portret van mij geschilderd door mijn broertje Roel van der Linden. Aristoteles zei ooit:

“Het doel van de kunst is niet het uiterlijk van dingen weer te geven, maar het innerlijk… dat is de echte werkelijkheid.”

Dat is hier goed gelukt. Dit is wie ik ben. Cheers brother, keep up the good work.