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Ilse Sjouke and Martine Brandt

Ilse Sjouke makes art about the sur­re­al real­i­ties of this world. Her health pro­gres­sive­ly dete­ri­o­rat­ed and made her work more dif­fi­cult, until paint­ing became almost impos­si­ble. Today she lives in a com­plete­ly dark­ened room, but luck­i­ly on bet­ter days she can open the cur­tains a lit­tle bit. The beam of light that falls on the paper allows her to draw for brief moments.


Ilse Sjouke, Mar­tine Brandt
A “far-from-my-bed” Show
Col­ored pen­cils on paper, text

The work is a col­lab­o­ra­tion between Ilse Sjouke (image) and Mar­tine Brandt (text).
Mar­tine and Ilse are both bedrid­den with ME/CFS, and Ilse lives in a dark­ened room. A con­ver­sa­tion on Face­book led to the plan of depict­ing this sit­u­a­tion artis­ti­cal­ly. Ilse start­ed the draw­ing in spring 2021 and was only able to fin­ish it in Jan­u­ary 2022 due to her poor health. It took two years before the draw­ing and text could be pub­lished on Face­book for the first time.

A “far-from-my-bed”-show

The more every­thing is
with­in reach from my bed,
the more the out­side world
becomes a dis­tant spectacle.

Every­thing that was once famil­iar
is now strange, not my own.
Every­thing that got me agi­tat­ed
now seems small, so marginal.

The world goes on
and from far away I hear
the laugh­ter, the whis­pers,
the whim­per­ing and the taunting.

The world goes on
with­out notic­ing
what is hap­pen­ing to me,
hard­ly any­one is aware.

I try to con­nect,
to empathise with oth­ers,
and to feel what is going on
in that big world outside.

I some­times won­der,
do I still exist?
Because so deprived of con­tact,
I seem to slow­ly dissolve.

I am here, the world is out there.
What­ev­er I do and try,
the “there” drifts away,
far beyond my reach.

I look and won­der.
The big becomes small
and the small becomes big.
Sud­den­ly I see it so clearly.

I have lost what I am look­ing for,
found what I did not ask for
and fol­low my own path,
towards the core of myself.

Here silence and empti­ness reign,
noth­ing becomes some­thing, the empti­ness full
and I see the essence of me:
L O V E.

Ilse Sjouke

Mars Says Hi / A Rich Men’s Lul­la­by
Acrylic on can­vas

The Cloud / A Land of Con­fu­sion
Acrylic on can­vas