Red Pencil (Self-Portraits)

Red Pencil (Self-Portraits)

For the next four years, I intend to make a self-portrait every day with this short 8,5 cm (3,35 in) red election pencil.

My inspiration came after the elections in the Netherlands on 17 March 2021. During the 3rd wave of the Covid19. I saw on my phone that people were selling the red pencils on Marktplaats (a Dutch eBay kinda website).

The day after, or maybe it was the same day, I was walking outside. And I felt in the right pocket of my jacket the cute little red color pencil. And then I thought of drawing with it. As a statement? Or as a happy action? As a new project? Or pure for the joy of it?

Since the results of an election are for 4 years. I want to do this every day for the amount of 4 years. I am unsure if I will succeed. The pencil may break or I lose it. I could move home and live in another country. I might die (I hope not). The cabinet can fall. The country can fall apart. War could happen. A meteorite might hit the earth. There are several reasons why this project could fail. But it could also take place.

With this action, I want to daily reflect on the liberty that I have and want to be conscious of it. Perhaps realizing it deeply will make me feel more free and happy. With it, I will give honor to what the women before me have accomplished. And what we as people have paved out for almost all people. And what we as an individual in freedom can enjoy.

That we can be in a system that values and respects its citizens with their unique voice. Whether this voice is female, gay, black, religious, a prisoner, old, a-sexual, or whatever sound it maybe be. It should be heard. It can be heard. And this way it will be heard.

On an artistic level, I also want to see if this is interesting.—A self-portrait every day. However, I feel. How sick I may be. How down I am. How uninspired I am. How boring I look. How busy I am with other projects. Maybe I will lose interest? Maybe my drawing improve. Or evolve. Or it will be the same kind of red scribblings every day. And what happens with the drawings after 4 years? Where do I store all these drawings? Or will I choose 100 drawings per year? And then have 400 drawings? Or maybe I only document the pencil shortening over time?

This draft is written on 22 March—after I let the idea simmer for a few days. An update might follow.

Kim Engelen, Red Pencil, 4-Year Drawing Project (Self-Portraits), 2021-2024