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'Love and Death'

On hallowed ground

'Love and Death'

As part of 'The Other is Yourself', I also sometimes use the photo series 'Touched' that John (my friend) took of me during the medical course I underwent to recover from breast cancer. I use this to show how important it is not to approach people from a one-sided perspective, as I could sometimes experience how you are approached as a cancer patient and where I then did not identify with it at all. My message with the photo series is, among other things, that you can and should know how to show yourself at all times.

Bildung Nijmegen organises expedition weeks based on different themes. With the theme 'Love and Death', the photo series 'Touched' was on display at the Student Church last Thursday, October 24. Students from all study programmes can apply to Bildung Nijmegen if they are interested in a programme focused on personal development. This programme runs alongside their studies.

It was very special to physically show the photos for the first time. I had previously shown the photos in a guest lesson at the minor in creativity development, but this was digital. For this occasion, the photos were printed on long banners and we had placed them on the floor. Because the photos were on the ground, I felt the vulnerability that speaks from the photos was reinforced. I did find that special to experience, this reaffirmed for me that vulnerability is a strength. I also found it quite special to lie on consecrated ground in a church :-).

It really hit me in a new and different way what the photos do to myself and others. During the medical process, I sometimes thought about the fact that afterwards there would still be a period of processing. I just didn't realise so immediately what role this photo series would play in that. I notice that I really enjoy going back to that period through the photos, because I find it important not to put it away. But mostly because these photos remind me what this period has meant in terms of deepening the relationships that are important to me. Not just those of John and me, but also that by using creativity in this vulnerable period, special projects were created with others, which thus gained an extra layer. (dance performance Funny Feeling and my participation in Sharon Kilinger's film 'we anti-authoritarian children'). I consider myself lucky to be surrounded by so many special and creative people, this also strengthens my creativity. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, in his book 'Creativity', talks about 'that creativity, precisely because of this inextricable link, should not be seen as occurring in an individual, but in relations within a system' (p. 46). 'This inextricable link' in the quote refers to the creation of the great Florentine arts in the Renaissance. My works are of course less significant in historical terms, this does not take away from the fact that they have a lot of value for me personally and I am very happy about that!

During the evening, a woman talked about her work as a death companion in a hospice, the pastor of the Student Church talked about the grave he dug in the garden of the church and in which he invited students to lie down, in order to think in peace and solitude about what really matters to you in life. The evening ended with a 'Death Café', which is an idea from England and a way to talk about your experience of death in small groups. The underlying idea is that if you are more aware of death and the finiteness of life, you are quicker and more willing to shape your life in the here and now as much as you want. ( During this section, it turned out that the photo series evoked different associations and so had brought up personal memories among the participants. It worked well to share these in a smaller setting. It was very good how the different parts of this evening interacted and reinforced each other when it came to creating more and more of an atmosphere of trust that brought about more and more participants wanting to express their thoughts.

The whole series can be seen at this link:

Author: Deborah Heijne



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