the black


What kind of black?

Mick replies:

“Genuine black, black… No sparkle, no shine, nothing. Just black.
I would like to edit a film with all the pieces I’ve missed, that other people have experienced. To know if I really missed anything… Just because there is nothing, doesn’t mean it is not interesting.”

At age 17, Mick experienced his peak in epilepsy when his EEG showed 284 instances of electrical activity, out of which at least 80 were absences. Just like that, all goes black and he falls down without any prior warning. Now he is 23 years old and lives at SEIN (a center of excellence for epilepsy and sleep medicine) in Heemstede.

It’s his big dream to become a teacher. He trained to become a teacher in Amsterdam. This went well, until his internship. Then he had a fit in front of his class. His face looks sad when he says: “I’ve traumatised those children. I hate that.” Now he does an internship at de Waterlelie, a SEIN school for children and youngsters with epilepsy. Every weekday morning taxis arrive from all across the country. Here his epilepsy is a comfort: ‘The teacher has it too’. And every group has a backup teacher.

Mick sees only black when he has an absence. Nothing else.
He says he can only sleep at night after having watched National Geographic Channel for a while, about the universe, the stars… 95%, maybe even 98% of the universe is only black and that is a comfort to him. “It is very pretty, really, the black.”

When he is 24, he visits het Stedelijk Museum for the first time, with artist Ruud Lanfermeijer. They sit in front of Barnett Newman’s blue painting. When asked what he’d like to make the most, he replies: “A painting with black smudges, because those are the pieces I miss. Can you make a film of all the missing pieces in my life?”

In the artist’s studio are 15 black pigments, all different and all unprocessed. He will use those for tempera: pigment, oil, add an egg. Tests are done and small black paintings occur, one of them in mummy black.

One day the projector is switched on. He is standing in the light, his shadow falls on a black cloth, a different kind of black. His shadow becomes a black man, looking at the black man, outlined in white, which is lying on the floor. It is a big painting and Mick seems to be watching himself.

Mick was never very interested in art, but he keeps returning to the artist’s studio. He has become an artist himself.

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