Johan van der Dong
A Summary of Projects, a selection
God Netherlands and Europe
Whether we like it or not faith has dominated the debate for ages and probably for ages to come. It was proven by me because of projects like the P.O.Box of God how relevant religion still is. It’s because of the nature religion is about, it embodies the need Humans have in having faith in symbols and rituals. People are living their lives according to the rules which got the right feeling over them. It secures them from certain uncertainties. Religion has brought a lot of culture to t
he world which we need in science, exploring new things, and although not directly a purpose for religion it brought us many new views we can cherish and built upon for prosperity of us humankind
The projects below will have a view on all those needs we as humans have to face in living a decent quiet life. But when society and even symbols are altering because of a change of times what question can be raised by then, just because of our ow human behavior. What will happen is a very interesting question to ask.
P.O. Box of God (Basic Project)
Writing a letter to God, burnt in anonimity
2006-present Mailbox of God. A collection of letters, a physical mailbox, mailart. Burning letters, incense, fire, water, air, burning of letters on crosses. Performances by other artists like the late poet Driek van Wissen. Registered and broadcast by media like KRO, NCRV, RTL, BBC, Volkskrant, VRT, NOS Journaal, 1Vandaag and many more Illustration
https://www.volkskrant.nl/nieuws -Background / -letters-to-god-need-to-mailbox-10-in-grijpskerk b5ea119b ~ /
In 2018 A number of letters were incooperated in Groningen Archives, to be closed forever, as the project asked for
Paintings, drawings, photography and performances (1989-2019)
Under various themes (1989-2019 like Washing of feet, industrial heritage which means making drawings and paintings based on the various themes and projects that I used in my work and career as an artist. Through these concepts I mold and am modelling them in a fashion which reflects the time we are living in. It’s all about providing my project-based work with a necessary clarification that is mainly about the required art of being in our existence and surroundings . As a result, over the years I have participated in many exhibitions at home and abroad. I have also had a number of working periods abroad, including in Ireland (Tyrone Guthrie), the UK and France. In 2020 I want to continue that valuable process in Sweden. Only the most important and recent ones will be mentioned.
The body but especially the mind (2019-) An experience
2019 How do we experience our body, what is the state of self-image, but above all what images unconsciously are issuing about our inner selves along in the way we look at others (in preparation). It’s a project about experiencing our belly, an outspoken project about human doubts.
Don’t mention a word (2018/2019) A project about our human regrets
2018 Why can’t we say sorry, why can’t we do it on a more daily basis when it is needed to do so, why is it that difficult to mention it if we truly are or maybe are not. It could safe us so many problems in questions of our own evils A series of exhibitions about the word sorry and thee vil behind. https://www.perssupport.nl/persbericht/7fd7b838-8a39-4703-aa9f-819483d15365/kunstenaar-van-der-dong-start-kunstproject-spijt
The Measurement (2018-2019) The shame of Being
2018 Not as long ago as we thought it would a measurement of skulls was found normal. In todays vision we are still having thoughts about it though in another way as shown in recent history. We still judge people on the way they are, in the psysical and psychological ways shown to us. We have to deal with our own bias. Commemoration Slavery grom our past, including KetiKotifestival 1 July 2018, Nieuwe Kerk Groningen. Performance about the Phrenology of the new age and how mankind always manages to put other people behind because of their own interests using prejudices and prepreconceptions Galerie BAS10 Sneek Living in the era of information phrenology. Performance and Expo Illustration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0fNcG0_yHA&t=8s
The Blender performances of Dutch Elections (2018/2019)
2017 Series of performances and exhibitions around Dutch General Elections, the way politicians are acting and handling the problems which had to be solved today About the global flow of information that threatens all of us, civiliains within the system of political customs solving every day life in filtering proper information. All of this results in the rise of populist parties who only give voice to new xenofobia in a blow to every day life. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDzaG1vfzaA
P.O Box of Evil (2017-2019)
2017-2019 Why had to be there so much harm in this world, what had this harm to do with our human behaviour in inflicting so much pain and sorrow. What the need of so much Evil in this world. Why do we have such difficulty in understanding pain, distress and sorrow in causing it again and again in fighting personal wars for example, just because people have other beliefs and ways of life. What do we mean by our behavior and how do we deal with it when it concerns ourselves where it affects our own world? Why do we have difficulty understanding people who had to flee “for evil” because of the fear within us?
The Empty Chair 2014-2019)
2014 Its a matter of compassion if you are talking about a chair which is empty, because life caused it in his own unspeakable way. Its about how wwe as humans are dealing with loss The Erbarme Dich is also expressed in the Empty Chair. How do we deal with loss of life, in the way life has treated us. Which symbols, rituals and expressions do we have for a subject like this, allienated from daily life.
Following the poem, De Lege Stoel, I traveled through the Netherlands with the model Nienke Helder, which resulted in a journey through life. The momentum of history of a human life arises in fifty films.
The sugar village 2015-present
Hoogkerk was the village of my youth, a village that disappeared, which became a city district. A village which plant was at he centre of its spot in almost being a religion, connected to its conservative churches in a way of living.
In many drawings, in all its shapes and sizes, i’ve tried to give an impression of this villages, looking more Brittish in a way then Dutch just because of its industry Sugar Village and the industry around it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-NsDTYmPdU&t=717s
Going Ahead (2015) Flight of refugees
2015 An investigation of which compassion we have to our fellow travellers in life, the hidden refugee in ourselves, following a stream of refugees, a journey through Groningen together with the mayor, Peter den Oudsten, under the sky of what a refugee does feel in relation to us as inhabitants of a trusted soil. Illustration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4LNkr0gW6Y&t=3s
They also had to go (2015) Over 70 years of freedom
A performance and exhibitions about 70 years of freedom in the Netherlands, where I performed a piece of performance with suitcases in Grijpskerk to show how we as people become enemies to ourselves in a behaviour toe each neighbour we dislike in not helping them because of our own safety, which will then more important to survive. A sketch to show that war never stops at borders and continues where people make conflicts and got worse with it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_8XDUx-CHk&t=12s
My Granddads Bible (2013)
The Quran is said to be a holy book, but the Bible itself is not, its not considered in the same way though said to be the Holy Word instead. A slight difference it is. My Granddads Bible, (2013) this Bible was once possesed by the artists granddad.
The Quran is a holy book as said, but the Bible itself isn’t, so I tore up my grandfather’s Bible to see if it got any responses. There wasn’t any, but it was a reason for Passion For Freedom to ask me back for an exhibition in the Embassy Tea Gallery Illustration: https://www.passionforfreedom.art/shortlisted-artists-2013/
https://www.passionforfreedom.art/shortlisted-artists-2013/ POBox of Allah 2010- 2013
Johan van der Dong. Born 27 april 1962, artist, performer, poet.
Artist Johan van der Dong connects and is crossing disciplines within the Visual Arts, he is an artist who is able to act without old fashioned borders. He is always busy in thinking from out a different angle. In his works he often touches a large audicience by introducing projects like P.O Box of God or the Hotline of God. This projects were largely known by a global audience because they became world news. The hotline of God was called for approximately 300.000 times. It was his most succesful project ever.
His world often affects people and their points of view on many social problems such as the position of religion in this time. A lot of questions about the daily use of rituals and symbols is triggering him in his art, all the time. Why do people have to use them in the way they do or did, why aren’t there efforts to change or alter specific rituals which are causing troubles is a question he asked himselves a lot. Why aren’t we solving modern problems in a way our society needs, why are we always looking fort he same answers. Its troubling him a lot. The Feet Washing on the Museumplein in Amsterdam is in example of how he tries to work. He was making interviews while washing up peoples feet in order to hear stories of them, affected by every day life and their cultural backgrounds.
His huge love for the coasts, seascapes and shores of Europe and the wadden sea area in the Netherlands is another prominent thing in the art he makes. He constantly tries to capture shores, being surprised by such beauty of mother earth and the way we are living in it. We as people have to preserve it, be careful with it, caring for its wonderful views. Life makes us reponsible to take care of all species who are living it. That thought is always ocurring on his mind when he draws a new piece of art, lets preserve.
Johan van der Dong was raised up in Hoogkerk Groningen, an industrial village in the neighbourhood of the city of Groningen. It was a village on the border of farming and having various industries like a Sugar Factory. It makes him wonder how ordinary people are surviving this globalized world. He has made some movies about it. Also a project like the Empty Chair is seeking about answers containing how society matters in every day life
About Johan van der Dong (artist, Groningen, 27th of April 1962)
As an artist Van der Dong is always busy in creating things you’ve never thought off. His( imaginary )world often touches the real one in awakening people about certain matters such as religion. His work is all about the tolerance people should have about each other. He asks many questions about the way people react on rituals and symbolism they used in daily life when set in unusual customs. In his work people are challenged to reconsider their thoughts about certain matters. In 2007 he offered to wash the feet of people curious as he was about the behaviour they would give him. In last year’s P.O.Box of Allah he washed the feet of a Muslim member of parliament while talking about the role of religion in modern society. Lines of Dutch history were made up in relation of the integration of Muslims in Dutch Society. In his conceptual work he often asks people to participate in it by explaining the purpose of the project in relation to our modern community. An example of such a project is his world famous concept ‘The Hotline of God’ which got more than 350.000 calls from all over the world. Very many languages where spoken in, on a voice in Dutch. It was by all means his most successful project ever.
Johan van der Dong is also known as an artist who is inspired by subjects such as The Waddensea and human behavior. He painted in his own way with strange materials to let people know how various and wonderful our environment is and can be wondering in how people can live their lifes