Monument for the Forgotten Person

From XPUB & Lens-Based wiki

Student Menno Harder
Graduation Year
Featured image TENT Unlinked 6.jpg
Work Description This installation consists of two elements: a pile of envelopes placed against a door-like shape and quotes beamed on the wall. The envelopes are all addressed to the same house and resemble the pile of post that was found when police opened the door to this specific house. Inside this house the body of Bep de Bruin, who had died 10 years before, was found. Inside the envelopes is a text in which I recall a visit that I made to the house myself. The quotes on the wall are things I noticed when I was inside. A neighbour of Bep mentioned that after so many years, he could not read the nametag next to her door anymore. It had been weathered completely and so did his memory of her name. The quotes on the wall are fading out in a similar manner, resembling a memory that is forgotten.
Bio Menno Harder (NL) is from Beekbergen, Gelderland. Since moving to Rotterdam he has been fascinated by the city and in particular the Middelland neighbourhood where he lives. By observing and registering the existing space surrounding him he tries to re- map and re–discover it.


On the 21st of November 2013 the body of Bep de Bruin was found in her house at the Jan Porcellisstraat 6b. She had been lying there for over 10 years. National newspapers reported the case and there were intense discussions about the cause of it. The house of Bep was just around the corner and the news hit our neighbourhood like a bombshell. As a local resident you feel even more responsible and even somewhat guilty.

Even after that day in November the door was kept shut and pictures began to appear of Bep’s door and her downstairs neighbour. The image of the two blue doors was of high iconic value, after being portrayed so many times it became some sort of monument in its own right. After being in front of her door many times after this event, trying to figure out what happened and in particular why it happened here and in our society, I got the opportunity to enter the house on the 12th of May. After a long talk with Xander, the spokesperson for the Middelland neighbourhood at Woonstad Rotterdam, we entered the house of Bep at the Jan Porcellisstraat.

Prior to that, the only thing I knew about the house was the information that I could find on the cadastre and ofcourse the way the facade looked. After opening the door and stepping into the small hallway I had to climb a steep staircase to reach the apartment. The house had been emptied of all her belongings some months before I entered, so it sounded similar to the way a house sounds when you have just moved in and have yet to decide where to put your furniture. It was very exciting to be in the house that had been inside my head for such a long time, but it was also just a house like any other.

I walked through the house for a while expecting to find strange things behind the doors or in the meter cupboard, but that didn’t happen. The only signs I could find that something had happened here were the forced locks from when the police had entered the building, and the marks that the furniture had left after not having been moved for so long. The smell of the air was also interesting, it reminded me of the air I smelled when I entered other long abandoned buildings.

The house was sealed away from the outside world, it was a universe on it’s own co-existing next to the living world. When I left the house I thought about what Xander told me earlier that day: There is no such thing as coincedence, the situation surrounding Bep’s passing away was meant to wake our society up.

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On the 17th of February 2014, during my final year at Piet Zwart I­­ squatted the house on Middellandplein 1 with a group of enthousiasts.The moment I entered the building I could view Middellandplein from another vantage point, opposite my own house on the other side of the square. This very literally changed my perspective of the space. It was the first time I could view the square from this angle.

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My recent work is grounded in the neighbourhood of Middelland. I believe there should be a direct link between the work I am creating and the space it is documenting.

He is freed from the bothersome obligations of the ordinary rendezvous since there is no one to wait for. But since this “possible rendezvous” has brought him without warning to a place he may or may not know, he observes his surroundings (Debord, 1958, p66)

In many cases this is how a work manifests itself. It is the exploration of a place which is not visited or visited before. It is the moment of time where there is observation without restrictions. It creates an ideal space to encounter stories, instead of tracking them down.

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