Nick Hannes


Armenian churches

After climbing Mount Ararat, I drove up to Kars and Lake Van, in search of ruined Armenian churches and monasteries.
Armenia accuses Turkey of deliberately neglecting and destroying Armenian historical monuments, as part of a cultural genocide. In 1974 UNESCO stated that after 1923, out of 913 Armenian historical monuments left in Eastern Turkey, 464 have vanished completely, 252 are in ruins, and 197 are in need of repair.
Here are some constructions I found:

Cengilli, Turkey, July 30, 2015

Cengilli, Turkey, July 30, 2015

Kozluca, Turkey, July 30, 2015

Kozluca, Turkey, July 30, 2015

Gorundu, Turkey, August 1, 2015

Gorundu, Turkey, August 1, 2015

Ani, Turkey, July 29, 2015

Ani, Turkey, July 29, 2015

Akdamar, Turkey, July 31, 2015

Akdamar, Turkey, July 31, 2015

Yagikesen, Turkey, July 30, 2015

Yagikesen, Turkey, July 30, 2015

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Pilgrimage to Ararat

Last month I climbed Mount Ararat in Eastern Turkey. I joined a group of American Armenians on their pilgrimage to the summit.
De Standaard published a portfolio of my photographs. Here are some images and a text I wrote.

Agri, Turkey, July 24, 2015

Agri, Turkey, July 24, 2015

Agri, Turkey, July 26, 2015

Agri, Turkey, July 26, 2015

Agri, Turkey, July 24, 2015

Agri, Turkey, July 24, 2015

Agri, Turkey, July 27, 2015

Agri, Turkey, July 27, 2015

Agri, Turkey, July 27, 2015

Agri, Turkey, July 27, 2015


Pilgrimage to Ararat

Throughout 1915 and 1916 an estimated 700,000 to 1 million Armenians in Eastern Turkey have been killed or deported, after the Young Turks took over power from the Ottoman sultan. Hundred years later a group of Americans with Armenian roots, descendants from the emigrated generation of 1915, commemorates the Armenian genocide by climbing Mount Ararat in Eastern Anatolia.

“No, this is not an ordinary hike”, says Roupen Harmandayan. “This is a pilgrimage. Each step I take is full of significance.” Roupen, a 57 years old teacher from Los Angeles, blinks away a tear. Together with ten other Americans of Armenian origine, he’s on his way to the summit of Mount Ararat.
“My grandparents fled from this region hundred years ago. First into the Arabian desert, then to Greece and Lebanon. Born in Beirut, I left the country when I was 18 because of the civil war. We ended up in the United States.”

The genocide is inextricably linked to the Armenian psyche. The loss of ‘Western Armenia’ to Turkey is a historic trauma to the Armenian people. Mount Ararat, a silent witness of the tragedy, is the national symbol of Armenia. It is depicted on the official coat of arms and on bank notes. Its image is used in company logos and products. It is the main subject of Armenian poets, writers and musicians. Its picture is present in almost every Armenian living room.

During the ascent of Mount Ararat melancholy is never far away. In the evening at base camp, 3200 meter high, Roupen recites Armenian poems by lantern light. Mountain guide Gevork plays age-old melodies on the duduk, the traditional Armenian flute. “This is how our ancestors must have spent the nights here”, muses Arthur. “How special it is to revive this experience on this mountain.”

Day four of the expedition is ‘summit day’. At 2 AM in the night a queue of dark shapes with headlamps on slowly moves up the mountain flank. At the last stretch of rocky ground, crampons are girded. A thick cloud sticks to the summit. White out. Suddenly cheering voices break through the howling wind. Eleven Armenians throw themselves in each others arms, 5137 meter high. Relief and frozen tears. Armenian flags, signed with the names of the group members, are folded out. “This is a spiritual place” says Roupen. “A friend of mine once cut a hole in the icecap to bury a photograph of his grandfather here.”

“Ararat is Turkish now”, says Roupen. “The Kurds take care of it and make use of it. We can’t change history and kick them out from here. We, Armenians, are happy that we can visit our mountain and enjoy it.”

For decades Ararat was a closed military zone. Only in 1998 the area opened up for tourism. The procedure to obtain a climbing permit became easier little by little. Trekkings became more and more popular, not least among Armenians. Today many local tour operators in Dogubeyazit, an impoverished Kurdish town at the base of Mount Ararat, offer mountain trekkings.

But after violence between the Turkish military and the Kurdistan Worker’s Party PKK has flared up recently, the tourist season on Ararat might be a very short one this summer. A few days after our ascent the Turkish army declared the area as a temporary ‘special security zone’. Once again access to the mountain is forbidden, and all trekkings in the near future have been cancelled. A setback for hundreds of locals who earn their living as mountain guides, cooks, drivers or horsemen on Ararat.

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Overview of current and upcoming exhibitions and events in which I take part:

biennaleJune 23 - September 30, 2015: 'Mediterranean. The Continuity of Man' at the 5th Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art (Greece). Entitled: 'Between the Pessimism of the Intellect and the Optimism of the Will'. Curated by Katerina Gregos. Organized by the State Museum of Contemporary Art (SMCA).

June 11 - august 30, 2015: Group show 'Facing Japan' at Museum Dr. Guislain in Ghent (B). Organized by Flanders Center in Osaka. With Marleen Daniëls, Nick Hannes, Michiel Hendryckx, Maroesjka Lavigne, Tony Le Duc, Charlotte Lybeer, Jimmy Kets, Stephan Vanfleteren, Sarah Van Marcke and Rob Walbers.

October 1, 2015, 20.30h: Interview on Canvas TV, by Bart Schols at 'De Afspraak'.

December 5-12, 2015: Screening of 'Mediterranean. The Continuity of Man', at Angkor Photo Festival, Siem Reap, Cambodia

PAST (selection):
pano expo Med Reinout VD Bergh
November 27 2014: 'Mediterranean. The Continuity of Man'. At FotoMuseum Antwerp (B). On show until February 1 2015.

November 15 - December 15, 2014: 'The Continuity of Man', preview at Cosmos Galerie in Paris, on the occasion of the 17th edition of Mois de la Photo.

September 3 - October 12, 2014: 'The Continuity of Man', preview at M. Zilinskas Art Gallery in Kaunas, Lithuania, on the occasion of Kaunas Photo Festival. Part of the group show 'Generation 1974', with works of 11 European photographers who were born in 1974.

May 3-18, 2014: 'Red Journey' at the 18ième Biennale Internationale de l'Image in Nancy, France.

April 11 - June 2, 2013: Kaunas Photo Festival, M.Zilinskas Art Gallery of the National M.K.Ciurlionis Art museum, Kaunas, Lithuania. On display: 'Traditions in Flanders' (selection)

February 8 - April 24, 2011: Group show 'Finisterre. Jonge fotografie in België' at FotoMuseum Antwerpen. Curated by Inge Henneman, Rein Deslé and Luc Derycke.

May 30 - June 18, 2011: Exhibition 'Red Journey' at Flanders Center in Osaka, Japan.

June 1 - September 4, 2011: Group show 'In de marge. Belgian Documentary Photography', at Museum Dr. Guislain Ghent. Curated by Kaat De Jonghe

June 29 - September 25, 2011: Group show 'Beyond the Document' at Bozar Brussels. Curated by Xavier Canonne (Musée de la Photographie de Charleroi); Pool Andries (FotoMuseum Antwerpen); Frank Vanhaecke (BOZAR EXPO)


Financial Times

Review of the 5th Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art in The Financial Times:FT

Text by Maya Jaggi:

The gleaming revolving door at the entrance to the Pavilion of the Nations in Thessaloniki’s national exhibition centre is deceptive. As you push and rotate, a glass screen swivels to block your exit. Persistence proves futile; the only way out leaves you where you came in. The “fixed” door could lend itself to silent comedy. But the stress, disorientation and sense of entrapment necessitate a health warning to claustrophobics and those with heart problems. Above the door winks a neon line from Samuel Beckett’s Endgame: “The end is in the beginning and yet you go on.”
The “crisis” installation “Revolving Doors (or The Peristrophon)”, by the Athenian artist Nikos Navridis, was commissioned for the fifth Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art, which opened on June 23, just days before cash withdrawals were curbed and the Greek debt crisis moved into a higher gear. Ironically, the €1m biennale, which runs until the end of September, is co-financed by Greece and the European Union. The last of three such events under a programme agreed years ago with the European Regional Development Fund (though Greek input has shrunk from 20 per cent in 2011 to less than 5 per cent), the 100-day biennale in Greece’s second city could turn out to be a swansong for co-operation.

For now, it funnels funds to museums reeling — like all of Greece — from cuts. At the opening ceremony in front of Navridis’s installation, Thessaloniki’s mayor, Yiannis Boutaris, praised the “self-denial” of staff at the State Museum of Contemporary Art, which has had its budget cut by three-quarters since 2010. Under its director, Maria Tsantsanoglu, the museum has run the biennale since its inauguration in 2007 as the country’s first for contemporary art. Katerina Koskina, the biennale’s director, says visitor numbers doubled to 60,000 by 2013. More than 100 artists are present this year. Volunteers are drawn not only from Greece’s biggest student population, but from the 65 per cent of the city’s young adults who are unemployed.

The first biennales stressed the city’s layered history, and its Balkan and eastern-Mediterranean location, juxtaposing contemporary art with Byzantine and Ottoman monuments. This year’s is the last of three devoted to the Mediterranean region, under the title “Old Intersections — Make it New”. The aim to reposition the northern Greek port chimes with the vision of Boutaris, a winemaker elected mayor as an independent in 2011, who declared that his would not be a “city of ghosts”, an allusion to Mark Mazower’s history of the ethnic cleansing of old Salonica. While Greek nationalists stress links to Alexander the Great (and his sister Thessaloniki), Boutaris is restoring Turkish and Jewish history to a city once known as the Jerusalem of the North, and where the museum that commemorates the birthplace of Atatürk was renovated and reopened in 2013.

The main exhibition, curated by Katerina Gregos, treats Greece’s neighbours as a Mediterranean crisis zone, from a southern Europe in economic meltdown, to Istanbul’s Gezi Park, Gaza and Libya. Among Nick Hannes’s colour photographs from the series “Mediterranean: The Continuity of Man” (2010-14) are an austerity-era Greek wedding in a petrol station, and a Cairo skyline with livestock tethered on the roofs. Tom Molloy’s “Untitled” (2014), a set of 1,000 colour photographs, forces the viewer to approach and engage with his tiny cutouts of refugees and people at war, standing toylike on a wooden table. Ganzeer’s “4 Years of Dreaming Dangerously, 2011-2014” is a collage of posters from the doomed Arab spring.

The location is the vast Helexpo exhibition centre in an area of central Thessaloniki now hemmed in by corrugated-iron walls, and redolent of abandonment. Danae Giamalaki’s design closes off the space but for one back window, creating a sense of confinement that echoes from the revolving-door impasse to a cell whose clock stops when you enter. Yet many expressions of the psychological effects of interminable crisis contain humour, from Nedko Solakov’s “Illusions” (2014), 19 small drawings of nightmares and phobias, to Iván Argote’s photographic series “Alone” (2010-15) of dogs waiting for their masters with pathos, trepidation and an absurd obedience.

Among several bravado satires on money and the financial world is James Beckett’s installation “Voodoo Justice for People of Finance” (2013). The cartoons form a putative rogues’ gallery alongside rocks inscribed with the subject’s place of birth — from Bernard Madoff (Queens, New York) and Nick Leeson (Watford, UK) to Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Christine Lagarde (both Paris). “This is not just fucking business” (2014), an installation by the Spanish artist Carlos Aires, creates a wallpaper of figures from banknotes, alongside graphic lyrics from popular songs such as “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”. “You never own money; it’s illegal to destroy it — it’s surreal,” the artist says, adding: “It’s almost therapeutic to destroy it.”

Opening the biennale, the mayor affirmed “our efforts to bring citizens to contemporary art”. Yet judging by an audacious exhibition in collaboration with Thessaloniki Pride, he is not averse to taking art to citizens. Hosted by the new City Hall, Identalterity is on near the White Tower, where anti-troika protests took place during the previous biennale in 2013. The street violence pictured is not of anti-austerity Greece, but Igor Grubić’s “East Side Story” (2006-08), videos of far-right attacks on gay pride parades in Belgrade and Zagreb in 2001-02. Beyond the show’s art-speak title is an unflinching look at shocking or abused bodies, ambiguous genders and the right to be different, on public display in the main reception hall of a civic building. Images include David Hockney’s 1966 etchings illustrating homoerotic poems by the ethnic Greek poet Cavafy, and Natasha Papadopoulou’s “Caroatids” (2012), digital collages of female nudes with twisted carrot legs.

The show takes place amid sharply contested moves in Greece to extend the right of civil partnership to same-sex couples. Its co-curator, Syrago Tsiara, also links recession and the entry of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn into parliament to a rise in homophobic attacks. “People are more afraid of losing their certainties as well as property and jobs,” she says. “It makes them more hostile to anything different or strange. Fascists and conservatives invest in this fear. But there are other parts of the country that have become more open. It’s a complicated period, with liberalism and conservatism in tension”, in which contemporary art — a poor relation to antiquity in Greece — can form what the biennale’s director Koskina calls a “laboratory” for new solutions.

An exhibition in the port uses antiquity to explore a present predicament to inspired effect. In a warehouse overlooking the Thermaic Gulf, as though from the loom of a modern-day Penelope, a praxinoscope film projector cranks out a strip of fabric in place of celluloid. The 800 black and white “frames”, machine-embroidered on 72 metres of cloth, derive from photographs and stills of sailors and seafarers’ women taken over nine years by the artist Evangelia Kranioti. Her project “Exotica, Erotica, Etc” (2006-15), involving photography and filming in ports in the Mediterranean, and on a dozen voyages on tankers and container ships, was inspired by the wandering Ulysses. But the 2014 installation “Antidote”, with its 45-second embroidered animation, homes in on the uncertain predicament of his wife trapped on her island, weaving in an interminable limbo while forces beyond her control determine her fate. In the artist’s mind was a question for our times: “How would a woman deal with endless waiting?” Her answer has both technical ingenuity and an epic poetry.

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Der Spiegel

Julia Stanek of Der Spiegel interviewed me on 'Mediterranean. The Continuity of Man':

Ein Grieche feiert Hochzeit auf seiner Tankstelle, in Saint-Tropez lässt eine Touristin die Hüllen fallen und kauft von Senegalesen Schmuck. Der Fotograf Nick Hannes reiste vier Jahre lang ums Mittelmeer - und machte Bilder, die kein Tourist sehen will.

Der benzinbesprenkelte Asphalt diente als Tanzfläche, die Neonleuchten unterm Tankstellendach ließen das weiße Brautkleid seidig schimmern. Die Stimmung war großartig, die Hochzeitsgesellschaft betrunken. Gäste stiegen auf Zapfsäulen, sie tanzten Sirtaki und tranken Wein an Plastiktischen mit weißen Tischdecken.

Eine Hochzeit in der Hafenstadt Patras, Griechenland, Oktober 2012. Der belgische Fotograf Nick Hannes arbeitete gerade an einem Buch über die Lebensrealitäten in den Ländern rund ums Mittelmeer. Er war tagsüber an der Tankstelle vorbeigekommen, als Pächter Christos Karalis, 44, dort Tische deckte, wo sonst Autos halten. Der frisch vermählte Grieche erzählte dem Fremden, er würde hier am Abend seine Hochzeit feiern. Er müsse Geld sparen, also habe er Familie und Freunde hierhin geladen. Auf seine Tankstelle.
Auch Hannes durfte kommen. Das Foto, das er mitten in der Nacht machte, zeigt mit großer Symbolkraft die Folgen von Griechenlands Wirtschaftskrise: die Armut der Bevölkerung. "Es zeigt aber auch, wie kreativ die Menschen sind, um ohne Geld ihr Leben zu gestalten", sagt Hannes. Eine lange Schlange am Geldautomat oder ein Bettler auf der Straße sei nur eine Facette des Problems. Bilder davon sind ihm "zu stereotyp, zu klischeebeladen".

Blutige Schlachten, Tote im Meer

Als Hannes im Jahr 2010 sein vier Jahre dauerndes Fotoprojekt über das Mittelmeer begann, machte er sich auf die Suche nach subtileren Situationen. Er wollte sich an zeitgenössischen Themen wie Migration, Tourismus und Urbanisierung abarbeiten. Doch ihm war nicht klar, was sich ihm an erschütternden Motiven bieten würde.
"Zu Beginn meiner Reise durch 20 Länder gab es noch keine Anzeichen für den Arabischen Frühling", sagt Hannes, "die Krise in Griechenland war noch nicht ausgebrochen, die illegale Einwanderung in die EU verlagerte sich gerade von der Türkei und Griechenland nach Italien und Malta - und damit ins Zentrum Europas."
Rund um den Mittelmeerraum brachen in den folgenden Monaten Krisen und Katastrophen aus: Revolutionäre und Despoten lieferten sich blutige Schlachten in Tunesien, Ägypten und Libyen; Bürger in Südeuropa verarmten; afrikanische Flüchtlinge ertranken auf dem Weg nach Norden oder landeten auf der Pelagischen Insel Lampedusa, wo sie ein Leben in der Illegalität erwartete.
Hannes musste sich quasi nur an die Orte aus den 20-Uhr-Nachrichten begeben, um die Schrecken des Mittelmeers fotografisch zu erfassen. Es sei ihm dabei nicht wichtig gewesen, Einzelschicksale und persönliches Leid zu zeigen, sagt der 41-jährige Belgier. "Es ging um das Paradoxe in dieser Region, um die Parallelwelten, die sich hier auftun - und um die vielen Gesichter des Mittelmeeres."

"Bitte zeig das Bild Angela Merkel"

Schöne Strände gehörten für ihn nicht dazu. "25.000 von 46.000 Kilometern Mittelmeerküste sind urbanisiert", sagt Hannes. "Am schlimmsten ist es in Albanien, in der Türkei, in Teilen von Frankreich und in Spanien." Auf einer seiner mehrwöchigen Reisen fragte ihn seine Lebensgefährtin, die ihn zusammen mit den Zwillingstöchtern begleitete, wie oft er schon im Meer baden war. "Kein einziges Mal", sagte Hannes. Er fotografierte lieber betrunkene Touristen auf Schaumpartys in Marmaris, Prostituierte in Athen oder improvisierte Flüchtlingsfriedhöfe.
Seine Bilder liefern ein paar verstörende Einsichten in den Alltag am Mittelmeer, den sich viele Menschen so lieblich vorstellen. Hannes entzaubert die romantische Vorstellung, der warme Wind des Südens würde schon das nötige Glück zum Leben herüberpusten. Ein Blick auf seine Bilderserie reicht, und der Tourist, der gerade Sonnencreme und Badelatschen in den Koffer wirft, weil morgen der Flug nach Malaga, Alanya oder Palermo geht, hat noch etwas mehr im Gepäck.
Ein Hochzeitsfotograf ist Nick Hannes wahrlich nicht. Und doch ist es das Bild von einer griechischen Vermählungsfeier, das zu den eindrücklichsten in seiner Serie "Mediterranean. The Continuity of Man" zählt. Vor allem in diesen Tagen, nach dem Referendum in Griechenland, bei dem sich das Volk gegen die Reformpläne der Gläubiger ausgesprochen hat. In diesen Tagen, an denen so unklar ist, wie es weitergeht mit Griechenland.
Wann geht in Athen und auf den beliebten Urlauberinseln das Bargeld aus? Wird es an Medikamenten mangeln? Bleibt das massiv überschuldete Land Mitglied der Euro-Gruppe? "Solange wir den Euro haben, feiern wir Partys", hatte einer von Karalis' Gästen 2012 dem Fotografen gesagt. "Bitte zeig das Bild Angela Merkel." Ein Grieche würde auch dann noch lachen und feiern, wenn ihm das Geld weggenommen würde.
Das Foto von der Hochzeit auf der Tankstelle ist zwar fast drei Jahre alt. Doch der Trotz, der aus ihm spricht, scheint so aktuell, als hätte Nick Hannes am vergangenen Wochenende auf den Auslöser gedrückt.

Zurzeit sind Nick Hannes Fotografien aus der Serie "Mediterranean. The Continuity of Man" im Rahmen der Biennale of Contemporary Art in Thessaloniki zu sehen.

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Generation ’74

My work is featured in this new publication Generation ’74, which profiles 11 European Photographers born in 1974: Simon Roberts (UK), Nick Hannes (Belgium), Kirill Golovchenko (Ukraine/Germany), Przemyslaw Pokrycki (Poland), Tomáš Pospěch (Czech Republic), Mindaugas Kavaliauskas (Lithuania), Vitus Saloshanka (Belarus/Germany), Gintaras Česonis (Lithuania), Borut Peterlin (Slovenia), Pekka Niittyvirta (Finland), Davide Monteleone (Italy). There will be a book signing at Cosmos in Arles on wednesday July 8, from 4 till 6 PM.15_0214-Generation-74-book-012c-600x70415_0214-Generation-74-book-03715_0214-Generation-74-book-051

Editors Ángel Luis González (Spain/Ireland), Irina Chmyreva (Russia). Assistant editor Claudi Nir (Germany)
Design and layout Ángel Luis González
Texts: Mindaugas Kavaliauskas (Lithuania), Irina Chmyreva (Russia)
Print run 500
First Edition 2015
ISBN 978-609-8032-10-9
168 pages, Hardcover

Published by Kaunas Photo festival

more info here

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The German magazine 'Cicero' published some photographs of my series 'Mediterranean. The Continuity of Man150528_Cicero_001






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Signed books and (framed) prints can be ordered by email.
My photographs are for sale in limited editions of 10 or 50 copies.
Limited edition of 10: reference price for 50x75cm print: 950 euro (archival ink-jet print, wooden frame, glass).
Limited edition of 50: Reference price for 50x75cm print: 320 euro (print only), 395 euro (print on dibond), 610 euro (framed).

Prices excl. 6% VAT
Prints are made by Milo-Profi (Kontich, Belgium), on Epson baryta Photo Rag 315g.
Framed by Mertens Frames (Brussels)

Please contact me for more details and exact prices.

Nicosia, Cyprus, 2010

Nicosia, Cyprus, 2010

Book 'Mediterranean. The Continuity of Man', Hannibal Publishers, Veurne, 2014, 198 pages, 22x29cm hard cover, text by Michael De Cock, (English-Dutch): 35 euro

Book 'Red Journey', Lannoo Publishers, Tielt, 2009, 144 pages, 23x29cm, hard cover, text by Jelle Brandt Corstius and Nick Hannes (English-Dutch): 30 EURO

'Red Journey', limited edition of 20: book + 23x29cm archival lambdaprint 'Tiraspol, Transnistria, 2008': 150 EURO

Tiraspol, Transnistria, 2008

Tiraspol, Transnistria, 2008

Book 'Tradities', Davidsfonds, Leuven, 2010, 175 pages, 19x24cm, soft cover, text in Dutch: 25 EURO

Book 'Vroeger is een ander land / Mon hier est ailleurs', Nadaar Editions, Brussels, 2011, 264 pages, text in French and Dutch, hard cover: 10 EURO


Books can be signed on request. Prices do not include shipping costs. Contact me to arrange local pickup or delivery.


Facing Japan

In the past 6 years, Flanders Center invited ten Belgian photographers to exhibit in Osaka, Japan. At the same time they were offered a residence to realize a photographic work in Japan. On the occasion of the 40th birthday of Flanders Center, a group show called 'Facing Japan' will be held at the Museum Dr. Guislain in Ghent, from June 12 to September 13, 2015.
With Marleen Daniëls, Nick Hannes, Michiel Hendryckx, Maroesjka Lavigne, Tony Le Duc, Charlotte Lybeer, Jimmy Kets, Stephan Vanfleteren, Sarah Van Marcke and Rob Walbers.


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From June 7 to 28, CultuurCentrum Hasselt presents the work of more than 50 artists who have exhibited at CCHA in the past 20 years. This is the last exhibition organized by CCHA-director René Geladé, who's going to retire. I will show 5 works from the series 'Red Journey'.
Opening on sunday june 7, 3pm. Speech by art critic Daan Rau.
Uitnodiging ReView CCHA

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