Review ‘Empty Hands’

So excited about this review by Jurjen van der Hoek. I translated it into English for the non Dutch readers, translations below the screenshots with the original Dutch text.

UPDATE: All profits of this artist book are donated to MSF, to help with COVID-19 projects around the world. I has been printed on a limited edition of 100, and can be ordered, for €20 ex shoipping costs, through me, by e-mail: mjaquet@xs4all.nl

Empty hands, a document to remember

An imaginary description of a period in her own life. An autobiographical moment. A memoir contained in a small art book. A memo to remember. But I think she would like to leave this memory behind as soon as possible. But Maartje Jaquet turns the bad side into a positive side. A year ago she was part of the corona pandemic. She transforms that setback, that being sick, into a better being. It was terrifying, she writes in the preface “a year later” to the mixed media release. But she recovered, thankfully.

On her many walks through the city, with her camera ready to observe and capture the unnoticed life along the street. Along the way, she finds discarded latex gloves, taken off carelessly. These re-formed forms, because what once should have been suitable hands fade without content, Maartje Jaquet relates to herself. They have a story to tell her. About her own condition, from then, a year ago. Through all those white transparent covers, once shaping into the hands who carried them, she sees herself lying back in that bed. Deathly ill, helpless. Hands helped her to her feet. Supported and assisted her. And she recovered.

Those gloves had been there to help, once there were supporting hands inside them. From a certain distance, because impersonal, with a thin layer of plastic between the physical contact. Fearful of taking over or spreading the disease, social life is deprived of warm protective hands. The latex feels cold, but  thinks it isn’t. It serves a purpose. Now, the empty gloves a have been thrown away, dirty and thumbed. The now empty gloves let themselves be carried away by the wind, the rain beats them down on the sidewalk. They are dead things, but in their deformation they tell a clear story. A story of “the intangibility of life, death, how small and powerless we are”. But Maartje also sees “the comfort of being together in this, wherever we are”.

These hand shapes are empty, leave a void, draw a lack. The title “empty hands” is a reality: the latex is meaningless, there is no more life in it. They soil the street like dead forms. Left inanimate, because the destination has been reached, but the goal has not yet been reached. That is why new forms are being pulled over other hands. But the molding hands in her book have become useless, as they have been left, carelessly along the way, on the stones. Maartje finds more and more of them with every step in her journey.

“Empty hands” is also proverbial for having nothing. No more good health after the touch of the virus – or worse no more life – no more loved one who has been taken over by death. The nurses, the doctors in this pandemic often are left empty-handed when people’s lives are blown away, orphaned, los under their hands.

This publication, a collaboration between three artists with three art forms and three languages ​​from three continents, aims to be a document to safeguard the treasures of the street and the creative jewels that such a pandemic leaves behind in history. Maartje Jaquet photographed the empty hands. Canadian fellow artist Shelley Savor made abstract representations of the shapeless forms in a series of striking paintings. Moroccan writer and poet Baghdad el Masbahe translated the lyrics that Maartje poetically wrote in Dutch and English into a national dialect, Tarifit. In the release, all this merges into an inspired design. By placing transparent pages between the photo pages, paintings cover the images. The shapes coincide and gradually the recognizable shape is released. There’s only the emotion that resonates in the words. Words that first wonder and question, but comfor in the end. The hands may be empty, but they are no hollow vessels.

Edition “lege handen, ifassen ixwan, empty hands”. Photography, poetry and graphic design by and from Maartje Jaquet, paintings by Shelley Savor, translation by Baghdad el Mesbahe. Own publication, March 2021.

The artbook can be ordered through Maartje Jaquet for € 20,- excluding shipping costs: mjaquet@xs4all.nl

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