'The girl with the pearl earring'
Acrylic on 513 canvases
105 x 145 cm
As an immigrant I got intrigued by the phenomenon ‘collective memory’.
A while after moving from the Netherlands to New Zealand I realized that a large piece of my personality was built on the history I shared with people I had grown up with. For example; jokes. Most jokes are based on shared knowledge between you and your audience, without you even thinking to check this beforehand. Usually, only the most subtle visual or verbal clue is needed to understand what is meant. Of course; that is the power of jokes. Explaining them is destroying them, right? Simply think of the favorite TV series you may have seen in your younger years. For example; Imitating a specific voice or phrase from a character might be a way of connecting with a friend who used to watch the show too. We can do this sort of things without thinking too hard about it. Although in a new country this kind of cultural reference points had become useless, at least the wider and international part is still applicable.
Long story short: Our collective memory contains thousands of faces, names, brands, objects, scandals, disasters and victories. Like I said above; you often only need a small clue to understand what is meant. Two musical notes heard … and you can sing along to the song. Just some initials could be enough for certain celebs or brands. A low resolute image of a security camera can direct you to the criminal. Or to the hero.
No detailed image is needed to recognize the famous painting of ‘Vermeer’.