War monument ‘Exhortare’
The ‘Exhortare’ monument was commissioned by the Municipality of Twenterand. It is made in a marble block weighing approximately 25,000 kg and measuring 3 meters high x 2.5 meters wide and one meter deep.
April 5, 2016, the War Memorial was unveiled on Manitobaplein – in front of the Town Hall in Vriezenveen.
Below you can read Jan-Carels process about how the sculpture came to be, and his thoughts behind the design.
Material: Rojo Alicante (Red Marble)
Measurementes: H. 300 x W. 250 x D. 100 cm
Weight sculpture: 18.000 kg
The background story
“My interpretation of the assignment is: create a monument to replace the previous, stolen ‘Urgent Admonition’ in a durable, easy-to-maintain, weather- and vandalism-resistant material. It is desired that a relationship be established with the previous stolen statue, where it should also serve as a meeting place on May 4 where a moment of reflection can take place.”
“First I would like to explain how, as a traditional and multi-dimensional sculptor, I start with such a design. I have taken up the above-described goals and delved into the history of the Municipality of Twenterand. There I came across many elements that were important to many residents of the municipality.
First hand witness
After reading up on the background, I started talking to a good friend of mine*¹. He speaks about the war from his own experiences and those of others. Also about his own time in hiding and about him and his cousin who survived Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen and the last train ‘the Lost Transport’. My friend helped create the “Digital Jewish Monument” referred to in the documentation of the previous stolen statue.
Finally, I consulted a Latin scholar who provided me with additional information about the term ‘Urgent Admonition’.”
“The term ‘Urgent Admonition’ is a derivative of the Latin text ‘Exhortare’. And when you look at the Latin translation of the word monument itself, it turns out that this word also has almost the same meaning, namely to warn. The word monument is a derivative of the Latin verb ‘monere’ which means to warn.
This gives the stolen monument a double meaning for me. People who see this monument (hopefully in a moment of reflection) will delve deeper into the background of the sculpture because of this meaning, where the double meaning of warning can lead them to deeper reflection. With this warning, the viewer is urged to be aware of what can happen if we do not commit ourselves to a better world in which freedom of religion and expression is a prerequisite.
The previous artist also used this meaning as a guideline. Unfortunately, we can no longer physically see her warning. That is why the desire to see a relationship with the previous image in the new image to be created has not become a plus for me, but more of a must.”
How the design came to be
“In the sketch above you see a large marble block of 3.00 meters high, approximately 2.50 meters wide and more than 1.00 meters deep. In this block I want to carve, among other things, the statue ‘Urgent Admonition’. Not in the traditional way where we see the image in its entirety again, but the other way around. The block remains and I cut out the image in the block.
This creates a large void in the stone, large enough to stand in and walk through (see photos above).
There are several symbolisms hidden behind this concept. One can initially see this as the emptiness of the stolen image, but also the emptiness left behind by the deportation or execution of the war victims in question. In the shadow of this image, a silhouette is created in which the bent posture is characteristic of the thought of what this figure has experienced and what kind of emptiness this has entailed for the person himself and his relatives. To further emphasize that emptiness, I have drawn a woman walking in the other direction in the design. (I will come back to this later in the explanation).
The monument should be placed so that the open side of the sculpture faces east and the other side faces west. As a result, at sunrise the emptiness of the silhouette can be seen in the shadow of the sculpture, and you can think of multiple meanings in the symbolism behind the word emptiness. At these moments one can stand in the sculpture, where one actually takes a seat in the void left by the war victims and can thus identify oneself by seeing his/her own shadow in the silhouette of “Urgent Admonition”. with the victims and their relatives.
At sunset, the shadow can naturally be seen on the other side. The symbolism behind this is that at sunrise one also sees the shadow of oneself, but that there is always light at the end of the tunnel, one faces the light of day. The opposite is the case at sunset when it gets dark and one has to remember that we have to guard against the dark side of society.
In this way, a kind of interaction is created between the viewer of the sculpture, the stolen sculpture and the memory of the war and war victims. I think it is most important that when the statue is placed on the square in front of the Town Hall, children also stand in this statue, so that they also wonder why this statue was made the way it is. The elderly among us who experienced the war (and there are not many of them anymore) remember everything, but this monument and we as a society must ensure that the thoughts of these events remain alive. And this warning / admonition starts with ourselves by involving the youth in this.”
The story doesn't end there
“This monument is mainly about the victims from this municipality, to remember them too. There are people who were arrested because of their faith, but also who resisted the second German occupation. (the 1st was in 1666 – invasion of the Bishop of Münster).
I think back to a letter that came to my attention from Mr. Derk Smoes (1945), addressed to his Lieveling, indicating that the game had been played and he had lost. But also thinking of the Jewish couples who were deported to Auschwitz, among others, where they were separated from each other upon arrival and they probably never had contact again.
Among other things this farewell broke these people, they felt just like Derk Smoes: defeated. What kind of feeling would this have caused them? It is precisely this feeling that I want to emphasize with this sculpture. This is a feeling that everyone can imagine how painful it must have been. For that reason I have also sketched a female figure, who, with the same bowed head as the male figure, walks in the opposite direction to where her partner is going.
The man disappears into the dark side of life and she rises, as it were, and, if she has survived the war, she will always be stuck in the memory of this terrible period.
This is also the reason that I only carved her half out of the block of marble. This symbolizes being stuck and wanting to escape the thought of war. But when you speak to people who have survived a concentration camp or war in any form, it will become clear that that experience remains with them like a block in their legs throughout their lives.
The sculpture is completed with the last symbolic reference, namely picking up or putting down the dead pigeon. This is also a reference to Janny Brugman’s earlier monument. She didn’t portray that dead pigeon for nothing. Like me, she probably wanted to symbolize that war destroys things like love and peace on earth. Due to the war, there is hardly any opportunity to communicate anymore. Because this is what a dove symbolizes, namely communicating between 2 worlds and bringing peace and love. Picking up or putting down the dead pigeon again has a double meaning in this story. The woman wants to cherish the thought of love and peace and therefore takes the pigeon home and buries the dead pigeon respectfully. But you can also see it as that she puts down the pigeon because she feels broken and lost, where the game has been played, as Derk Smoes mentioned in his letter. She feels the peace and love have disappeared.”
Rojo Alicante (Red Marble)
The names of the victims
On the left side of the monument, the design creates a large flat side in which a surface is carved out the size of a gray slab of natural stone. The names of all the victims can be carved into this. There is plenty of room for any new names. For more information you can read the 4 and 5 May foundation’s webpage about this artwork.
Chopping away by hand
Are you interested in having a bespoke artwork made for you? There is a wide variety of possibilities, from type of (gem)stones used, dimensions and personalizations. Don’t hesitate to reach out to Jan-Carel to find out what’s possible.