20-07-43/27-07-43 / Nozinan Primidone (2018)
This artwork by artist Erwin Thomasse, is about his father’s and mother’s relationship, by using the front page of the newspaper from their dates of birth. Thomasse’s parents were born a week apart in 1943, in the middle of the Second World War.
The idea behind the piece was a welcome gift from the newspaper 'De Telegraaf' to his father who, as a new subscriber, was given the front page published on his date of birth, 20 July, 1943. Thomasse realised that his father had simultaneously been handed a dubious piece of this newspaper's past. During the war, 'De Telegraaf' had represented the German occupiers in its reporting.
While reflecting on his parents’ relationship, Thomasse, as a counterpart to 'De Telegraaf', looked for a newspaper that could serve as a model for the position of his mother. He opted for ‘De Standaard’, a newspaper that served as a sounding board for the Anti-Revolutionary Party (ARP) and the Reformed Church in the Netherlands (GKN).
During the war, 'De Standaard' had mainly tried to adopt a neutral position. However, under pressure, the newspaper eventually bowed to the occupying forces, at which point it called upon a quote from the Bible: ‘Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
By presenting newspaper front pages as a portrait, Thomasse forges a link between public life and private life. He shows how social, political and religious power structures determine our identities and affect one another. The relationship between the news on 20 July 1943 and the follow-up to it on 27 July shows the inescapable connection of events, which also applies to the relationship between his parents.
The title of the piece refers to the medications that his parents used to make their lives bearable. In so doing, the artist demonstrates how intense their relationship was. In addition, Thomasse questions the use of medication to treat symptoms.