How come; if you look into a list of victims of a certain tragedy, you always look at their age, especially; your age. It’s just a list of names, but if you notice your age in that list, you somehow feel more connected, you feel a bigger drama when someone of your age became victim of a tragedy.
That happened to me when I walked through the Gorcum’s museum in Gorinchem. They had a list of people from Gorinchem, who died in the concentration camps of WWII. The list was not very long (thank God), but that’s mainly because Gorinchem is not a very big city. I actually can’t recall if there were any people of my age on the list, because, and you might recognise this too; I felt more drama when I saw that a child of only 2 years old also died at the concentration camps.
Age is such a strange thing. We wish everybody to have a happy and long life, but most of us are a bit uncomfortable by the fact that, each year, we grow a bit more towards our decay and our unavoidable death. And, perhaps that’s why we need to look for our age, in the list of the unfortunate. As a reminder that we are fortunate to be alive, still. This especially touched me, since I’m having my birthday on a short notice. Because; the reason people celebrate a birthday is much too often forgotten by the birthday-boy or -girl, after they have reached a certain age. I know this, I’ve fallen for it too; after I have celebrated my 30th birthday, I deny getting older. I like my skin without wrinkles; thank you. I like to live without age related ailments, thank you. But,.. I want to live! I want to do a thousand things for which I need a hundred years (and more) of living. I want to celebrate life! And therefore I might better just embrace my age.
I decided to do this, in the form of an art project. A personal art project, related to my age. And inspired by the unfortunate, who sometimes didn’t get any year older than me, I thought I, from now on, should dedicate each year in my life, to someone who died at my age.
Soon I’ll be 37 years old. A lot of people died at 37. I can just pick one. So I’m undecided whether my next year will be a tribute to Vincent van Gogh, Rafaël, van Ryswyck, Cohen Gosschalk, or Stan Notenboom. All painters. The last artists won’t ring a bell to most people, but maybe that’s more interesting, I don’t know.
I also could give tribute to someone who is not an artist. Like, for example, Hendrickje Stoffels; Rembrandt’s mistress. She also died at the age of 37. Or to Guillaume Depardieu, Bo Linde, or Michael Hutchence, who actually are artists, but no painters. Or political activists, like Robby Sohansingh, who was 37 years old when he became victim of the december murders in Suriname, or Cornelis Antoons, who was similar to Sohansingh, but was murdered in WWII, by the Nazi’s.
Yes: I like this idea of giving tribute to the unfortunate. And I will carefully choose one person to whom I can give the attention he / she deserves. Every life is worth to give tribute to, especially when someone had died so young. So, this dying project will be continued,.. probably for as long as I live.