From the beginning of her career, Rini Hurkmans is concerned with topics such as absence, loss, disruption, alienation and the related concepts of safety, security, identity and compassion. This can be perceived in the photo series Pietà, in the films Dear Son, The Flavor of Salt and Don Quixote but also in the sculptures The White Shroud and The Inner Garden.
Life, art and politics are intertwined in a continuous dialogue and each specific period requires its own thoughts, strategies and forms.
Hurkmans initiated the conceptual artwork Flag of Compassion in 2002 out of the desire to go beyond the framework of cultural consensus and consumption. Since 2008, she is an advisor to the Unda Foundation, the foundation that manages the artwork and also organizes a series of Making Waves events around themes related to Flag of Compassion. By engaging with the Flag, it is investigated how a work of art can activate ethical questions in society and how it can function both within the arts and in society. Hurkmans is the driving force behind the book Compassion. A Paradox in Art and Society (Valiz, 2017) in which Flag of Compassion is discussed as a case study.
She is currently conducting further research into the concept of loss in relation to ethics and politics and is developing new work based on her working period as Artist in Residence at the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome in 2019. Her research into the press photo she bought in 1992, and which inspires her work ever since, of the moment Michelangelo's Pietà was attacked in 1972, serves as the starting point for the work in progress.
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