Empty spaces

The hallway of the Cobbenhagen-building (alongside the Aula) shows a touching photo-exposition. Ilvy Njiokiktjien photographed the empty spaces the victims of the MH17-tragedy left behind.

On July 17th 2014, the Malaysia Airlines airplane number MH17 crashed near the village of Hrabove in eastern Ukraine. There were 298 people on board, 193 of whom had the Dutch nationality. There were no survivors. Among the victims were Willem Witteveen (62), Professor in Encyclopaedia of Law and founding father of the Liberal Arts and Sciences program, his wife Lidwien Heerkens (former employee of Tilburg University) and his daughter Marit, a student at our university.

At the request of the New York Times, the Dutch photographer Ilvy Njiokiktjien took a series of photographs of some of the victims’ rooms or workplaces. They are images, one might say, of the emptiness left behind. Almost all of the families approached by the photographer agreed to cooperate. Njiokiktjiens photos are displayed in this exhibition and parts of it were also published in NRC Handelsblad in late 2014.

The series prompted the University arts committee and the faculties involved to ask Ilvy Njiokiktjien to photograph Professor Witteveen’s two rooms at the University, in the Montesquieu and Dante buildings. When this exhibition ends in October, the photographs will be given a permanent place in both buildings. They will serve as a lasting tribute to Willem Witteveen, who was immensely important to the university.

Text editing by Michiel Hoornick


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