The Prison of Self

by Sonja van Kerkhoff, 2015

artwork, copyrighted by Sonja van Kerkhoff
Limited Edition print (of 35) on di-bond with layers of varnish.
The work can be hung outside.
$NZ 220 each plus postage.
The photographs here are of the work "The Gossamer Prison", a curtain with the Persian
text cut out of it as exhibited in a Croatian monastery (2004)
and at the Leiden museum of weaving (2008).

Photo: Julie Fowler-Smith, Australia, 2004
of "The Gossamer Prison", Zaostrog Monestery, Croatia.

The text is a citation from the Persian Hidden Word, #40
by Baha'u'llah, founder of the Bahai Faith

I made this plaque
for two outdoor exhibitions in
Aotearoa | New Zealand in 2015 so those
passing by would understand the text
making this plaque
a limited edition print-object
while the feature, 'the gossamer prison'
was not for sale.

On a bridge during "HOMETOWN",
Leiden, The Netherlands.

"The Gossamer Prison" consists of a Dutch repurposed sheer curtain that shows its soul in the emptied spaces of cutout letters, which read (in Persian):

"Free thyself from the fetters of this world, and loose thy soul from the prison of self."

Persian was chosen because of the beauty of the flowing shekasteh script, and because it is a medium for mysticism, especially in the hands of poets.

Curtains such as this are made to be seen through, while creating a private space. In this work however the viewer is required to focus on the barrier of the curtain's surface, to see the lettering there.

The theme is an ancient truth: the limitations we impose on ourselves constrain us in a real way, yet we can break those bonds as easily as brushing aside a flimsy curtain.

On a bridge during the "HOMETOWN" festival in the
centre of Leiden.


2017    "Where Shall We Call Home"    Depot Artspace, , Devonport, Auckland, Aotearoa | New Zealand

2015    "Kaipara Coast Sculpture 2016"    8th annual sculpture show, Kaipara Coast Sculpture Gardens, 4km north of Kaukapakapa Village, Auckland, Aotearoa | New Zealand

2015    "Northland Sculpture"    4th biennial sculpture show in the Quarry Gardens, 37A Russell Road, Whangarei, Aotearoa | New Zealand

2015    HOMETOWN    one day arts festival coordinated by Peen en Ui, Leiden city centre, Leiden, The Netherlands

Related Work

Latest Artwork    By Sen + Sonja    Sonja's c.v.    Sonja's Design page    A tour via thumbnail images