01-02-2010 - 18-11-2010

Photo's: Peter de Ronde

De Nis

 

 

Martijn Engelbregt, Wilders, Venlo, Circus Engelbregt

Art by Martijn Engelbregt in De Nis: Statement against us-them thinking

Martijn Engelbregt, Wilders, Venlo, Circus Engelbregt

Once again, the façade of Venlo's City Hall catches the eye. With the newest contribution to art project De Nis, artist Martijn Engelbregt takes a stand against us-versus-them thinking by using three words only.

“The reader is asked to be ‘with us’. Of course it is not clear to whom ‘us’ is referring”, says Martijn Engelbregt. “Furthermore, ‘zij’ (a homonym for ‘be’ and ‘they’) and ‘ons’ (us) together, constitute a new ‘we’. If they are with us, the duality of us-them thinking transforms into unity: we. The words imply a different way of looking at each other.”

The City Hall’s façade seems an ideal location for the artist’s appeal: after all, this is a place where opposed parties discuss their points of view, negotiate and finally try to compromise.

Martijn Engelbregt, Wilders, Venlo, Circus Engelbregt

BE WITH US / THEY WITH US

ZIJ MET ONS: Dutch for "BE WITH US" and, in the same time, "THEM WITH US" reads the neon sign on the façade of the ancient City Hall of Venlo, the birthtown of xenophobic Dutch politician Geert Wilders.
The words derive from the edge lettering on Dutch coins: GOD ZIJ MET ONS (God be with us). By leaving out the word GOD, the meaning of the well-known phrase changes into an appeal to be 'with each other', thus breaking with the pattern of 'us' vs. 'them' thinking in a simpe manner.