“Nobody understands me! Do you get that?”

The feeling of not being understood, no one escapes it. In the 18th century, Immanuel Kant chose the term Ungesellige Geselligkeit to describe the tension between the individual and society. This tension, which has not abated, became painfully apparent during the pandemic crisis, when we were all forced to give up many individual freedoms for the sake of society. This caused a great deal of turmoil and anxiety. Some people took up the fight, either in groups (Terkamerenbos) or individually (Jürgen Conings). Others took a more modest approach to resistance at a barbecue with too many people.

With the sea as a backdrop, many human ailments become relative. With a view of the sea, one feels small; all human agitation loses its importance to the eternal ebb and flow of the tide. Sometimes it is a soothing thought, sometimes a depressing glimpse. In a world where only the loudest are heard, the irrepressible wind that pushes the sea across the land silences everyone. For photographer Bart Ramakers, this evoked the image of the sandwich man, who expresses his message in hard letters on a sign. Sometimes against the wind. Not a message he is paid for, but the loud cry of his own soul that shouts out the signs. But does he find an audience? Does his slogan find readers? Few passers-by pay attention to him, his frustrations and his words, which are already forgotten a hundred metres away.

Sandwiched between nature and society, sandwiched between conflicting feelings, sandwiched between expectations and his own wishes, sandwiched between the words on his back and his stomach. Does it help to shout and rant?

Text: Geert Stadeus

The project “Sandwiched” consists of two parts.
In the first part, we follow Geert the sandwich man on his highly individual quest for an audience through Ostend. After Geert’s passing, a lot of ideas were left unfinished. Some of these were picked up in a series of old postcards, so the sandwichman takes a dive into time and returns to the Ostend of a hundred years ago.

In the second part of the Sandwiched project, we let a wide range of some 40 Ostend citizens bring their message on their favourite location in the city. This project has been exhibited in the Nieuwe Gaanderijen in Ostend, 10 August – 26 September and in the CAS (Musinstraat) 10 August – 26 September 2022.

In collaboration with the City of Ostend, Department of Leisure.

Finally as a kind of philosophic end point, a big fresco ‘Quo Vadis’ concludes (temporarily) this project.

Quo Vadis?
‘Boys don’t cry’, dedicated to Geert Stadeus (1964-2021)