A moving portrait of global identity

My name is Iris Haverkamp Begemann, and I am a documentary photographer from Amsterdam. Through my work, I often shed light on the stories of people who are less visible in society. I strive to create images that empower my subjects, and I undertake projects that span over extended periods.

With the photobook “I Went on a Holiday to the Country You Fled From,” I aim to break free from the prevailing perspectives of “me” and “the Other” that reduce the lives of refugees to abstract concepts. Instead, I hope to foster a collective consciousness by telling the story from a “we” perspective because I believe that we are all both part of the problem and part of the solution.

The Project

In the summer of 2021, I faced a dilemma when contemplating a holiday to Mexico. It wasn’t just about choosing a destination; it was about the impact of my decision on my dear friend Alejandra Ortiz, a Mexican writer and activist who identifies as a trans woman. As a white cis-gender woman, my privilege granted me easy access to visit Mexico, but the same freedom was nearly impossible for Alejandra, given the challenges she faced as a trans woman living in her own country. Meanwhile, Alejandra has been denied a residence permit in the Netherlands for seven years because Mexico is considered “safe” for her.

The questions gnawed at me – Would my visit inadvertently shape the image of Mexico as a carefree vacation destination, while it remained unsafe and unwelcoming for Alejandra and others like her? I felt the urgency to address this disparity and shed light on Alejandra’s plight. This journey marked the beginning of my photo series, “I Went on a Holiday to the Country You Fled From.”

Through this series, I sought to deconstruct the common perception of Mexico as a mere vacation spot and delve into the complexities and hardships faced by marginalized individuals like Alejandra. Guided by a hand drawn map, I immersed myself in her hometown, capturing her memories and experiences. When I returned to the Netherlands, Alejandra beautifully complemented the photographs with her profound thoughts and reflections.

But this project transcends the individual story of Alejandra; it extends to embrace a larger community. For the epilogue of the book, titled “They Can Cut All the Flowers, but They Cannot Stop Spring,” I ventured to meet, portray, and interview other transgender individuals who continue to live in Mexico, seeking refuge in places where they feel safe and accepted.

Publications and exhibitions

The photo series has resulted in several beautiful publications, including features in WePresent, Het Parool, De Volkskrant, PF Magazine, and Switch Magazine. Recently, the series won the Dutch Photography Award ‘23. Additionally, the photo series has been exhibited at Melkweg Expo in Amsterdam and at Outernet Global in London, curated by WePresent.

About the photobook

In addition to the photo series of Alejandra’s birthplace, the epilogue titled “They Can Cut All the Flowers, but They Cannot Stop Spring” is printed as a zine on smaller format newspaper paper and bound within the book. Anthropologist Nancy Siblini (a transwoman who fled from Lebanon) has also contributed an essay on identity and belonging for the book. Finally, the book includes a conversation between Alejandra and me about the relationship between the “subject” and the “photographer,” and our collaboration.

Together with graphic designer Tjade Bouma, I have worked with great joy and dedication to compile all the stories into a photobook.

Click here to pre-order the book.
Website Iris Haverkamp Begemann

The Hurgronje Family Fund made a financial contribution to the publication of this book.

Art within Means

During the weekend of 16 and 17 September 2023, the art fair Art within Means will take place for the third time in a row. The fair is an initiative of family member Nadja Willems-Raadsen.

As an artist, Nadja has experienced first-hand that it is not easy to advertise your artworks, let alone sell them. Artist fairs are often very expensive for participants without the organisers seeming to put much effort into attracting a good trade fair audience. That’s why Nadja decided to organise a fair herself. But one that is low-threshold, affordable for the artists and free to the public.

Thus, the first Art within Means saw the light in 2021 in the Royal Stables of Soestdijk Palace. Despite corona restrictions, the fair attracted 1,000 visitors. In 2022, the fair was organised for the second time, this time in the Royal Greenhouses, and attracted 2,000 visitors!

This year, the fair will take place in the Prince Bernhard Garage of Soestdijk Palace. The advantage of the Garage is that it is larger than both the Stables and the Greenhouses, making room for more participants this year. The following artists will present their work:

Bastiaan van Amstel, Ilse Blommestein, Eefje van den Braak, Mies van den Brûle, Jola Geldermans, Pieter Haagen, Trudie van Haaster, Soraya van Houwelingen, Josua de Jong, Mieke Jonker, Frank Linsewski, Anne-Marie Mackor, Peter van Oostzanen, Chris Rodenburg, Peter Schipper, Mary Splinter, Petra Spigt, Jean-Marie van Staveren, Corine van der Werf, Sandra Westgeest, Inge Prins van Wijngaarden, Nadja Willems and Erik Zwaga.

Website Art within Means

The Hurgronje Family Fund made a financial contribution to the realisation of this fair.

Dancing on der Boede

Although not originally from Zeeland, Martien Beversluis lived much of his life in the province of Zeeland, in Veere to be precise. He did not live there alone, but together with his (second) wife, Johanna Verstraate. This young lady – a lot younger than Martien! – , with the clear nickname Jo, was born and raised in Veere, the daughter of a lockkeeper.

After a career in radio, Martien turned to writing poetry and novels. His wife also wrote, but sought her themes closer to home: the rural novel. Her stories were set in the province (and especially on Walcheren) – and the text spoken by the characters was rendered in dialect. She used various pseudonyms for her work (Dignate Robbertz, Jo van Wentveldt, Sylvia Mares, Jola de Canter) and had a lot of success – especially in the province of Zeeland. In many Zeeland families one would find Jikkemien, Volk van Basalt, Geertrui, the witch of Veere, Man te Roer or her later youth books.

Their personal lives were, to put it mildly, rather turbulent, and Martien Beversluis’s in particular stands out: he evolves from moderate Protestant to socialist, later even communist. He turned to the Reformed faith and in World War II he joined the NSB and even became a sympathiser of the German SS. At the end of his life, he moves into circles of Catholicism and anthroposophy. What kind of man is this? An opportunist? A weather vane with no backbone? Ordinary follower?

Theatre performance

Theatre is an important medium particularly for portraying emotional processes. In a theatre play, the protagonists speak for themselves, react to circumstances and also share their doubts.

Valreep Foundation develops and performs theatre plays with a Zeeland background. In early 2024, Stichting Valreep plans to release the play Dansen op der Boede, a play about the complex life of the above-mentioned Martien Beversluis and his wife. This solo performance is performed by one actress: she plays Johanna Verstraate who tells the story of her husband. She is of course loyal to her husband, but in some cases perhaps also shows the doubts she had about his peculiar manoeuvres.

The performance is strongly localised in the municipality of Veere, long home of the illustrious couple, but also portrays the social climate in the province of Zeeland, and particularly Walcheren between the two World Wars. The performance is a moving play that intertwines personal history with the historical context of the province.

Website Valreep Foundation

The Hurgronje Family Fund made a financial contribution to the creation of this performance.

Comic book “Zeeland in the Second World War”

Last June, publisher Het Paard van Troje published a special book in cooperation with Liberation Museum Nieuwdorp: Zeeland in World War II in comic book form. The text of this comic book is by historian Jan Zwemer, the drawings by Danker Jan Oreel. Both have previously published “Zeeland in comic book form”.

The book is suitable for young and old, and it will certainly appeal to young people. It is the first comic book to depict the entire war in Zeeland.

Format: A4
48 pages

You can order from the publisher’s website.

Website Liberation Museum Nieuwdorp

The Hurgronje Family Fund made a financial contribution to the production of this book.

Update 2 on the restoration of the mausoleum

Rien de Graaf, churchwarden of the Reformed Church of Stavenisse is kind enough to regularly update the Family Fund on the latest developments regarding the restoration of the mausoleum of the Lord of Stavenisse Hieronymus van Tuyll van Serooskerke. Several articles about this fascinating project can already be found on the website.

In July this year, we received the following message from Rien de Graaf:

The effigy is in Amsterdam in the studio of Tobias Snoep, two slots have been cut into it at the bottom and stainless steel strips have been placed in it to reinforce the statue. We are currently awaiting the outcome of the examination on how to handle the desalination; samples have been taken in consultation with TU Delft by Ms Barbara Lubelli and Hendrik Jan Tolboom of the RCE. The remaining parts are stored in the church due to lack of space in the studio in Amsterdam.

Another interesting piece of news is that filmmaker Sander Snoep, brother of the sculptor Tobias, is going to make a documentary about the restoration of the tomb.

Photos of the restoration’s progress can be found here.

Specifically, the following work has now been carried out:
Week 7:

  • Work floor raised to the floor height of the tomb.
  • Side pieces of tomb and front frames splinted and carefully lowered to flat on the floor and then packed into wooden crates.

Week 8:

  • All remaining parts of the tomb detached and packed for transport.
  • Loaded everything very carefully and left for Amsterdam, where everything was neatly stored in Tobias Snoep’s studio.

Week 9:

  • Chipped loose the stone-filled space between the tomb and the back wall and removed iron bar with dowels
  • Reinforced the underside of the back wall to prevent it from collapsing.

Week 11:

  • “Kick-off meeting” in the consistory on the restoration of the church and the mausoleum.
  • Scaffolding erected, skulls taken off and packed into crates.
  • Both “wildemannen” dismantled and packed.
  • Crown dismantled and packed.
  • Family coat of arms dismantled and packed.

Week 12:

  • Right half circle black marble disassembled and packed.
  • Crates made for various parts.
  • Left semicircle black marble and short sections of cornice dismantled and packed.
  • Cracked pilaster chopped loose and packed various parts.

Week 13:

  • Hourglass and corner pieces of the cornice dismantled and packed.
  • Left intermediate piece and upper skulls dismantled and packed. Preparations are being made in Amsterdam to cut slots in the front in order to reinforce the sculpture.
  • Both corner pieces dismantled and packed. In Amsterdam, slots are cut and stainless steel strips 1 cm thick and 5 cm high are successfully installed.
  • Preparation to dismantle the right-hand cornice.
  • All coats of arms dismantled and the crates with parts all tidied up and prepared for transport to Amsterdam.

Week 14:

  • All loose parts put together at the back of the church and all crated pieces moved there in view of transport to Amsterdam. Noir de Mazy parts stored in the tower.
  • Continued loosening the middle heavy part of the cornice.
  • Last part of the cornice chopped loose.
  • The rest cleared and partly measured in from the back of the monument. Amsterdam to finish the underside of the sculpture and return it to its usual position.
  • Remaining part of the monument measured in.

Week 15:

  • Preparation for dismantling cornice.
  • Left small pilaster dismantled, this will go to Amsterdam with three coats of arms for additional salt examination by Barbara Lubelli. Furthermore, everything selected and numbered for specimens to be examined by TU Delft.
  • In Amsterdam for partial removal of the reinforced plaster.
  • Work area in the church cleaned up.

Week 16:

  • Storage area behind the wooden pews shielded with wooden boards and started preparations for dismantling the cornices.
  • Right-hand cornice and middle cornice dismantled.
  • Middle Noir de Mazy piece above the text plate and left cornice dismantled.
  • Started by freeing the text plate at the rear to cut through the dowel for subsequent disassembly.

Week 17:

  • Continued removing the plaster on the Amsterdam statue.
  • Continuing with the removal of the plaster corset.
  • Removed brickwork behind the stone components to access the dowels.
  • Cleaned up in preparation for evening of singing in the church on 30 April.

Week 20:

  • Continued chopping loose the stones behind the natural stone back wall.
  • Some parts of the left side of the back wall dismantled.
  • Further dismantled left side back wall and text plate.

Week 21:

  • Further dismantled left side of back wall and removed masonry from behind tomb.
  • Removed dowels from back wall.
  • Removed part of the marble slabs and pilasters.
  • Cleaned up church for worship service use.

Week 22:

  • Dismantled right pilasters against back wall.
  • Removed dowels, including rest of loose parts.

Week 23: tidied up the church.

“Apollo e Dafne” by baroque ensemble Consort of Voices

On August 18, 2023, Consort of Voices was back in the Great Church of Veere. With Apollo e Dafne by G.F Handel, the ensemble, led by conductor Korneel Bernolet, performed an ode to the arts. Vocal soloists were Heleen Goeminne (soprano) & Kris Belligh (bass). The collaboration with visual artist Renée Herleef was exceptional. During the concert, she created visual work on three canvases, starting on the first note of the music and ending on the very last. The audience followed the full creative process from A to Z.

The artistic result was a dialogue between classical music and visual arts, involving the live audience. During the live performance, visual artist Renée Herleef appeared on stage as a third soloist, so to speak.

Apollo e Dafne

Apollo e Dafne is a story from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. This timeless story fits surprisingly well with our fast-changing society, whose main themes are desire and transformation.

In 1625, Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) commissioned Cardinal Scipione to create the world-famous sculpture Apollo e Dafne, which can be found in Galleria Borghese in Rome. Other artists have also been and continue to be inspired by this ancient story. Georg Friedrich Handel (1685-1759) set the story to music in 1710 in the form of an extended secular cantata (a kind of mini-opera) for two vocal soloists (soprano and bass) and baroque orchestra.

Consort of Voices

The ensemble has been active since 2010 with a base in Middelburg. It is the only baroque ensemble in Zeeland that makes music according to the principles of historically informed performance practice. This means that the ensemble approaches the music as much as possible from sources such as autographs and facsimiles, researches playing methods and plays on historical instruments or copies thereof. In this way, the ensemble builds on the ideas of the great pioneers of the second half of the 20th century such as Gustav Leonhardt, Nicolaus Harnoncourt and Frans Brüggen. Musicians with whom the Netherlands built an important international reputation in the field of baroque music.

Website Consort of Voices

The Hurgronje Family Fund made a financial contribution to the realisation of this concert.

800 years of Westkapelle city rights

800 years ago, in 1223, Westkapelle received city rights. And that is now cause for organising all kinds of celebrations. A special working group of the Waschappel vo Waschappel Foundation coordinates the activities.

An important goal of the working group is to improve the viability of Westkapelle. It is expected that after this festive year, the population will pick up organising events again and that solidarity will be stimulated as a result. After the COVID period, something needed to be done to boost the livability and solidarity in a positive way.

A year full of activities will be organised with support from the working group that will ensure sufficient budget. Associations organising an activity can apply for a contribution to the costs, removing an important hurdle. The working group hopes that the associations will once again acquire a taste for it and that a stream of activities will continue after the festive year.

Website 800 years Westkapelle

The Hurgronje Family Fund made a financial contribution to the realisation of this anniversary year.

Nesko to nature!

From April 10 to 23, 2023, the Nesko (Nederlands Studenten Kamerorkest = Dutch Student Chamber Orchestra) performed another successful tour. The Nesko is a project orchestra that is reconstituted every year through auditions from students from universities and colleges across the Netherlands, who make music at an advanced level alongside their studies.

The Nesko is a unique project; no other Dutch student orchestra focuses entirely on making chamber music, while also fulfilling a significant social role by providing afternoon concerts for vulnerable groups.

In one week, an original and challenging programme is rehearsed under the direction of a renowned conductor. The orchestra then tours seven (student) cities in the Netherlands, including Middelburg.

This year’s Nesko theme was ‘Nesko to Nature! In today’s busy world, where everyone must always be available, it is sometimes very nice to be able to take a quiet moment in nature and get your thoughts completely in order. Many composers have also used nature as a source of inspiration, which is why we as Nesko want to emphasise this year how nice nature is in promoting creativity and relaxation.

The 59th edition of the Nesko visited Middelburg on April 21 with two concerts: a lunch concert in the Penitentiary Institution Middelburg and a regular concert in the New Church. The programme included a commissioned composition “Lamenti” by Karmit Fadael (1996), Violin Concerto in A minor by Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904), and Symphony No 7 in A minor by Ludwig von Beethoven (1770-1825). The orchestra was under the enthusiastic direction of conductor Sander Teepen.

The concerts in Middelburg were made possible by a financial contribution from the Hurgronje Family Fund.

Passion in Veere

Friday April 7, 2023 (Good Friday) was a special day for the Vlissingse Oratorium Vereniging and around 600 people in attendance. Indeed, on this day, the Matthew Passion was performed twice.

In the morning, the children’s Matthew Passion was performed in the Great Church of Veere in cooperation with the Primas Scholengroep. The Primas Scholengroep (based in Koudekerke) has primary schools in eight villages on Walcheren (and one school in Kamperland). Almost 450 pupils from grades 7 and 8 participated in this children’s Matthew Passion. The children had been preparing since the beginning of the year. They sang all the choruses along and also created a children’s choir and even a school orchestra.

Passion in Veere

The performance was borne by the Zeeland Concert Choir and TY Zeeland Chamber Orchestra. The whole event was conducted by conductor Pim Overduin.

In the afternoon, the “normal” Matthew Passion was performed before a sold-out church of over 500 people in a slightly dramatised setting by 70 choir members, 45 children from the children’s choir, soloists and 25 orchestra members (including 15 amateurs).

Passion in Veere


  • Robert Luts – evangelist
  • Berend Stumphius – Christ
  • Josefien Stoppelenburg – Mary Magdalene
  • Charlotte Stoppelenburg – Mary
  • Martijn Sanders – Peter/Judas
  • Pim Overduin – Pilate

Website Zeeland Concert Choir

The Hurgronje Family Fund made a financial contribution to the realisation of both performances.

Beyond Expectation

The history of Nieuw- en Sint Joosland

René Hoebeke is a resident of Nieuw- en Sint Joosland and has a passion for history. Having previously written the book Slagveld Sloedam (Battlefield Sloedam), he has now written a thick historical reference work about his own village. The (working) title of the book is Buiten Verwachting (Beyond Expectation), after the village’s corn mill. The book describes the local history of Nieuw- en Sint Joosland and Oude Dorp from 1631 to 2022. It runs to nearly 800 pages and contains about 800 photos and illustrations.

After introductory chapters on the history of the Netherlands and the province of Zeeland, the genesis of Nieuw- en Sint Joosland follows. Then agriculture and farms are described, followed by village life: the shopkeepers and entrepreneurs, the church, education, public health, safety and crime, clubs and organisations, and finally, I tell about several Nieuwlanders with a special story.

By now, sufficient funds have been obtained (from sponsorship, expected sales and personal funds) to issue the publication. It is expected that the book will be available for order by the end of this year. For more information see the website about the book.

René is publishing the book privately and has no commercial interest in selling it. The Hurgronje Family Fund made a financial contribution to the publication.