Light calligraphy tour in Netherlands

Said Dokins & Leonardo Luna, ‘Desplegar el plan natural en toda su amplitud’ (‘To Deploy the Natural Plan in All its Amplitude’), Heliographies of memory series, 2017. Radio Kootwijk, Netherlands.

Inscription and Erasure.
Heliographies of memory in Netherlands

Said Dokins

Not long ago we had the chance to visit Netherlands, thanks to the invitation of Amsterdam Urban Art Museum / Street Art Today, Heerlen Murals and Locatie Spatie in Arnhem. Traveling between Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Heerlen and Arnhem we got to know a little part of Netherlands culture and to discover places with a strong historic and symbolic value. The project was titled ‘Inscription and Erasure’ and was focused to obsolescence spaces, where history is rewritten in different levels, sometimes hiding the trace of time, some other times, evoking the old days nostalgia.

One of the most stunning experiences was visiting Radio Kootwijk, a small village with around 120 inhabitants, in Apeldoorn municipality. Intentionally isolated in the middle of the woods of Veluwe region, A Building was constructed in 1917, designed by the architect Julius Maria Luthmann. It had the important role of housing a communicational complex where trans-Atlantic connections were established between the Netherlands and the Dutch East Indies (today Indonesia) during the Second World War.

The obsolescence of Radio Kootwijk was due to the development of new technologies, radio transmissions were changed by satellite communication. Even though the radio transmitters where destroyed, Building A stands as a monument to this history, presenting the reinforced concrete and all the characteristics of Art Decó.

In order to do this piece, we went through many adventures. We parked in a forbidden spot, then we walked 20 minutes on a rocky track, where wild boars where ready to attack us, finally, in the middle of nowhere, there was the tower. It was slightly raining, and while we were shooting, police arrived and kicked us out of the place, we didn’t know it was forbidden to be there at night and take photos. We were able to do just two shots, but it was one of the sessions we enjoyed the most.

Heerlen Murals

Said Dokins & Leonardo Luna, Erased trace, Heliographies of memory series, 2017. Schaesberg Castle, Landgraaf, Netherlands.

Owing to Heerlen Murals invitation, we worked during a week on the production of a new series that will be presented next year, as a big format photograph situated in the center of the city, along with a large-scale mural, following with the tradition Heerlen is well-known for: mural intervention.

One of the things that stand out in Heerlen is the palimpsest that at first sight is possible to observe in its architecture: a city with traces of the Roman occupation and Medieval remnants, in contrast to Modernist and Avant-Garde architecture, all along in the same place. In the city center, we can find the most emblematic building in Heerlen, the Glaspaleis, built in 1935 by Fritz Peutz, a jewel of Netherlands modernism. A few steps away, there it is the Pancatiuskerk, a Romanic style church, erected between 10th and 12th centuries. Next to it, we look at the Grass Palace Music School, constructed in 2003 by Jo Coenen, Wiel Arets Architects, an icon of contemporary architecture.

Said Dokins & Leonardo Luna ‘Inscripción y Borradura’ (‘Inscription and Erasure’), Heliographies of Memory series, 2017. Heerlen, Netherlands.

…every erased trace, in consciousness, can leave a trace of its erasure whose symptom (individual, or social, historical, political and so on) will always be capable of ensuring its return.

Jaques Derrida

By the end of the 19th century, Heerlen had become an important industrial center in the Netherlands due to mining. The government ran coal mines as state industries, generating jobs and a population growth without precedents. Coal mining became the basis of the city’s economy. In the early 20th century the industry had a turbulent expansion. During those times, a lot of ancient buildings were destroyed to build new ones, according to the new modern image of Heerlen. However, the glory didn’t last long, by mid-century the coal production stopped being profitable facing the competence of countries like Poland or the United States, as well as the discovery of new energy sources, such as natural gas. Suddenly, Heerlen industry stopped producing, and by the 60’s the coal mines were closed. More than 60000 people lost their jobs. The State relocated some governmental offices (ABP, CBS) to create jobs and ease the crisis, but it didn’t work out entirely. Today they’re still working hard against unemployment and to improve local economy.

Nowadays it’s hard to find traces of the mining industry. Almost every coal mine has been transformed in green hills, through an erasure operation known as ‘Van zwart naar groen’ (from black to green). The old mining area is now called Parkstad Limburg. Material testimonies of the mining past has been rigorously demolished. Just a few monuments still remind us about once dominant industry, perhaps a commercial mall that refers to mining towers shape. It seems that this episode has been deliberately erased, physically and symbolically, despite the great importance it had for local history.

Said Dokins & Leonardo Luna, ‘The return of the ghost’, Heliographies of Memory series, 2017. Heerlen, Netherlands.


We visited Arnhem thanks to the invitation of Locatie Spatie and we decided to work on The Airborne Monument, a monument placed in the center of a memorial situated in front of the John Frost Bridge, dedicated to the fallen soldiers during Market Garden Operation, in the Second World War. The monument is a damaged column that belonged to the Justice Palace, in which appears the inscription: “17 September 1944”, referring to Arnhem Battle. We worked on this piece in the exact day of the Commemoration, and the memorial was full of photographs, flowers and candles. It is the only day of the year in which social memory activates through the monument.

Said Dokins & Leonardo Luna, ‘the issue is never abstract war, but always concrete war, specifically imperialist war, and that is a phenomenon of economic life WB), Heliographies of Memory series, 2017. Arnhem, Netherlands.


It is surprising how many bicycles can be seen in Amsterdam! kilometers and kilometers of cycling routes, canals with small boats that can take you from one place to another. We were invited by Street Art Today to collaborate in the project of the Urban Art Museum, that will be open next year.

We worked in Amsterdam-Noord, the old industrial area across the IJ river. Currently, it’s going through an accelerated process of gentrification, that has given rise to a new urban area at the river shore with hotels, restaurants, galleries and museums that have turned the neighborhood into a place of production and consumerism characteristic of post-industrial cities. From another perspective, the local people of that side of the river that had lived there through generations in social care housing, feel every day more unconnected to their own neighborhood.

Said Dokins & Leonardo Luna, ‘Desplazamientos’ (‘Displacements’), Heliographies of Memory series, 2017. Amsterdam-Noord, Netherlands.

The Biggest Mural in Munich / Said Dokins / Calligrapy

My last huge mural in Munich supporting the Museum of Urban and Contemporary Art | MUCA. The mural is in the heart of the city, a stone's throw from Marienplatz, at front of the Museum there is a power electric plant that feeds the city, it has a more than 1200 square meters wall, so is the biggest mural in Munich.

Said Dokins, Chalchihuite, 2017. Museum of Urban and Contemporary Art, MUCA, Munich. Photo: Leonardo Luna

This piece is a reflection on time, in it's multiple dimensions. On one side, the concept of cyclic time, represented by a great circle, denominated by Dokins "Chalchihuite", related with jade stone, preHispanic symbol of protection, water, vital cycles and vegetation. On the other side, he approaches the concept of time as a current situation, present time, where armed conflicts and wars produce extreme situations in diverse places on Earth. Dokins reproduces in his own unique style a poem by the Syrian writer Adonis (Ali Ahmad Said) about time, where the author does a deep reflection on Syrian War and human condition. For Said Dokins, the subject of refugees is very important within European context, especially in Germany and in Bavarian community because, despite the creation of several programs for refugees in Munich, due to the political and social situation in the city, the segregation between these communities is very pronounced. This mural is a call for diversity, flexibility an openness of society to migratory flows and to the new time that is arising in Munich.



“Chalchihuite” Said Dokins new wall in Munich Vía: I Support Street Art

Said Dokins has just finished his last work in Munich for MUCA and we had the opportunity to see the process of it. The Giant Façade in the exterior of the Museum belongs to a power plant and it has a 1000 square meters wall which makes it the largest painting in the city. The outdoor area will also become an additional exhibition space and part of the event area for the MUCA URBAN ART FESTIVALwhich will run parallel to the Grand Opening and will run until the end of August 2017.

The wall titled –CHALCHIUITE- a term of Aztec origin which alludes to a magico-religious protector that in the past was made of jade, semiprecious stone, and which for it effects it was necessary to warm it to the sun. Also here the sun makes sparkling the gold and silver letters on the wall maybe in connection with this idea to charge of protection energy and turning it into a gigantic amulet.

Besides Said´s chalchiuite contains poems referring to the seasons directly in connection with the texts that surround it, words that speak about the time. The work of Said always loaded with social background turns his interventions into something more than a mere aesthetic work of art. On this occasion he has chosen Adonis’ stanzas, pseudonym of the Syrian poet Ali Ahmad Said, from the poem “Time” to embrace the verses of Chalchihuite a deep reflection of the time and its destruction in relation to these times of continuous armed conflicts.

“Hugging the ear of corn
of Time,
my head a tower of fire.
My soul has forgotten the things of its passion,
forgotten its legacy, preserved in the house of images.
It no longer remembers what the rain pronounces,
what the ink of trees inscribes;
no longer paints anything
but a sea gull flung by the waves onto the ropes of a ship;
it no longer hears anything
but iron screaming: Here is the city’s breast,
a moon is ruptured, tied to the umbilical cord
of a ghoul of sparks;”
He has chosen calligraphy from typologies of the average age but approached from techniques of Japanese writing that the artist himself knows by converting the own action of the writing in an authentic performance.


Said Dokins in Letrástica Festival

Said Dokins, Chalchihuites, Guadalajara, México, @LetrástcaFest. Video: La Musa Fea

Here you can find some pics and amazing video by Rodrigo Courtney from La Musa Fea Productions about the last huge wall by Said Dokins in Guadalajara, México for the International type design, calligraphy and lettering Festival Letrástica 2017

This mural is a tribute to ancient wisdom, indigenous cosmogony and ancient thinking and refers directly to the prehispanic rain god Tlaloc, represented by those two great circles made using calligraphy and the geometric elements that accompany them.
For Said Dokins there is a very strong relationship in the representation of the circle in multiple ancient cultures, he began performing these circular representations when he was a child studying Aikido and discovered in a book about Zen Buddhism, the practice of Ensō (円相), a way to cleansing the mind to prepare it for creation, is a hand-drawn circle made in one or two uninhibited brushstrokes with a Japanese brush, is one of the most typical subjects of Japanese calligraphy. In both pre-hispanic and Japanese culture the circle symbolizes the universe and the void, zero, flow and constant energy.

Chalchihuites / Said Dokins / Letrástica Festival from Said Dokins on Vimeo.