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200 years a Kingdom (2015)

Stamps, ‘200 years Kingdom of the Netherlands’
Series of postage stamps, 2 per year, 6 in total.
Client: POST NL
Year: 2013, 2014, 2015

200 years a Kingdom (2015)
What exactly makes a Kingdom and when does it cease to exist? One aspect is the contours of a country, which determine the boarders, both literally and figuratively. Placing the contours of the country in the past (1815) and the present (2015) side by side demonstrates the enormous difference. While today’s Belgium was still a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1815, this is no longer the case in 2015. And what was still the Zuider Zee in 1815 is now land. Both kings (Willem I in 1815 and Willem-Alexander today) have made their mark of the land to a greater or lesser degree. For the Netherlands of 1815, I translated this using the signature of Willem I; by rotating this a quarter of a turn, it encompasses the contours of the land. For Willem-Alexander’s Netherlands, I demonstrated this by using his personal wax seal, which he uses to ‘sign’ official documents.

An added benefit is the extra layer that is created when the postage stamp is stamped – a stamp on a stamp that already depicts a stamp.

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200 years of constitution (2014)

During the abdication of the King or Queen, he or she must swear allegiance to the Constitution. When taking this oath, he or she holds two fingers in the air. I ‘quoted’ precisely this moment in time through both text and imagery. By taking the literal text, spoken by both Willem I and Willem-Alexander, I demonstrated that language has changed a great deal in 200 years. For example, while Willem I speaks of ‘brave and able men’, Willem-Alexander’s language is more informal. I have also depicted the moment that they hold their fingers in the air. While the current taking of the oath can be documented as it happens (through photography or film), in the past a representation after the fact (a painting or sculpture) would have had to suffice. This also says something about the developments of the past 200 years.

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Landing of Willem I at Scheveningen (2013)

These postage stamps show the starting point and the current status of 200 years of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The starting point was the arrival of Willem I on the beach at Scheveningen in 1813. He returned from England after having fled the French invasion. Upon his return he was appointed king, signifying the birth of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The period between Willem I becoming the first king to our current king covers 200 years. I depicted this through sums of imagery and typography. For example, the boat landing + Willem I add up to the Dutch flag. The outcome of the sum of all the names of the kings and queens of the Netherlands = 200 years of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Both images and text were placed one above the other and added up, like a real sum.

A salient detail is that it was announced shortly before the stamp was to be printed that Queen Beatrix was to abdicate the throne. I was able to add the name of her son at the last moment.