Witte vlag

Emily Kocken


Book, 21.5 x 13.5 cm, 391 p, language: Dutch, publisher: Amsterdam/Antwerpen: Em. Querido's Uitgeverij BV, ISBN: 9789021446639.
Materials: ink, paper

Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp (Inv. no. B 2025/538).

Literary synopsis For young Elzbieta Różewicz life with the Amsterdam-based American artist Henry Theodore Watson is a flight from Berlin in 1999, where she was left alone after her parents died in a car accident. In the beginning of their marriage, Henry still let her participate in his art projects, but shuts her out after a scathing review of their performance at the Stedelijk Museum. While Henry stays in New York, their ailing dog dies. Henry uses the situation for a new art project. Elzbieta’s behavior is starting to show a provocative side. It seems inevitable that the dog will be replaced by a new one. *Witte Vlag* is a novel about the complex relationship between two human beings and a pet. The author shines a light on the ego of artists, and on the curse of daily life. Relation of the novel to the artist’s practice The novel reflects Emily Kocken’s artistic life to a certain degree. It is the ultimate experiment to create a live installation, without stages, actors, models etc. Writing, using words as immaterial material, is her daily tool box in creating starting points for new art work, and developing new projects. One specific art project, Drawing Róẓewicz, is related to the poetry theme in the novel. This close reading method resulted in a series of five drawings, which are also a research on the idiom of the Polish poet Tadeusz Rózewicz (1921). These pencil drawings are about the semiotic relationship and interaction between symbols (objects) and clusters (clouds) of other types of words in his work. Drawing Rózewicz is a concrete kind of close reading, book in one hand, pencil in the other, trying to contribute to the translations, taking another one of his books from the shelf, knowing that it takes more than a million thoughts, symbols, objects and projects to counterweight the importance of being a gifted witness of a wicked war. Rózewicz says in his poem *In The Middle Of Life*: ‘The value of life surpasses the value of all objects which man has made.’ It helped Kocken to understand the notion of finding a source within a source, a metaphor she uses in *Witte Vlag*. Everything seems to be connected, generated from the same source. [Novel website](http://www.querido.nl/web/Auteurs/Boek-5/9789021446639_Witte-vlag.htm)

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