Tag Archives: Human Connection

A human connection through layers of brown packing tape

A couple of years ago, I was involved in the communication around the TED talent search in Amsterdam. Part of TED’s search to have the best speakers, several candidates auditioned for a place at the stage of TED.

By far my favourite candidate was Max Zorn, a German-Dutch street artist. As an artist, he likes to be mysterious. He does few interviews. There are no pictures of him online. He typically wears sun glasses; during his talk he also wore a hat to be sure he remained incognito. Despite or maybe because of the mystery, he is one of my favourite artists – and the only one of which I personally own a work.

Max Zorn works with an uncommon material: brown packing tape.

He puts layers and layers of tape on each other, and the image becomes visible through the contrast between the different number of layers and the light that passes through to them. Light has to behind for it to be effective – see here the painting that hangs proudly in my room.


This is the image by day, without light (and with a bit of a mirror effect of the glass…). Nothing too exciting, right?



But this is the image by night, with the light on:



In my interpretation, the couple exchanges a look that can mean many different things. Every time I see the picture, I see another element, and come up with another possible story about what it means. Most of the times, I see connection and intimacy. But from time to time, it can also mean love, or lust, or disappointment, or submission, or a battle for power…

And all these emotions are expressed just with three materials – brown packing time, glass, and light.


One final image, also taken from the retro style that is very much present in his work (for more, check his website and his shop)


One million migrants and the island of all together

In 2015, the European migration crisis brought out the worst of many people. Hungary and several other countries on the Western Balkans route built fences. Population in destinations countries like Germany, Netherlands, Sweden and elsewhere protested out of anger and fear of asylum seekers, too often leading to violent confrontations. The Danish government undertook plans to seize asylum seeker’s personal goods. Sweden reduced mobility on the Oresund bridge, straining the connection between Copenhagen and Malmo and prompting Denmark to reintroduce border controls. The Schengen passport-free travel zone is under collapse. Populist parties reign in the polls in France, The Netherlands and elsewhere. The list goes on.

It is true that the large numbers of migrants put a strain on systems. It is impossible to orderly register and assist the amounts of people now. But it’s also useful to put the numbers in perspective: outgoing UN High Commissioner for Refugees Guterres pointed out that in absolute numbers, the 1 million people reaching Europe is high. But in relative numbers, compared to a population of over 500 million, the number is rather small, especially in comparison to the refugees received by Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

Ultimately, the refugees are not numbers,  but people. A documentary shot on Lesbos by Dutch filmmakers Philip Brink and Marieke van der Velden shows this very clearly. In their documentary “The Island of All Together”, they pair refugees, most from Syria, with vacationers from the Netherlands, Germany and the UK. The people-to-people conversations between refugee and tourist show that ultimately, the human connection factor is stronger than prejudice and fear. A wonderful film showing the human face between the two sides of the crisis.

The Island of all Together (English subtitles) from Philip & Marieke on Vimeo.