Here is where I exist

○ Series of still lifes and writer’s portraits, 2012–2017
○ Book, uitgeverij Querido, 2017
○ Exhibition, Dutch Funeral Museum So Far, 2017-2018
○ Side-programme

In the Netherlands and Belgium, dozens of people die every year completely alone. Homeless people, refugees and tourist, old people who have lost those dear to them, sometimes an abandoned infant. A group of poets writes poems especially for this group of people found dead. Before the coffin is lowered, a poem is recited during such a ‘lonely funeral’ as a kind of departure ritual. Carefully chosen words ratify the existence of someone who otherwise would have disappeared unseen.

Struck by the humane nature of The Lonely Funeral and the conviction that death and art closely rub shoulders, Bianca Sistermans and Hester van Hasselt started the project Here is where I exist | Died completely alone. Van Hasselt spoke to the poets, Sistermans portrayed them. Alongside the writer’s portraits, Sistermans did a series of still lifes of the objects which remained behind as markers of a lived life: the seat of a garden chair criss-crossed with scratches, an abandoned toy, apples that were never going to be collected. These objects are in the process of disappearing. The photograph is what momentarily interrupts this movement, so as not to let them – or their owners – leave unnoticed.

The project Here is where I exist led to the initiative Here is where I exist | Artists portray loneliness. The exhibition Here is where I exist | Died completely alone was on display at Dutch Funeral Museum So Far. This exhibition was made possible by financial support from the Amsterdam Fund for the Arts.