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Artist statement and bio

Joyce Overheul (1989, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, NL) grew up in an environment where it is not self-evident that women were treated the same as men. From her sense of justice, she has always been politically interested in things like women’s rights, emancipation, feminism and activism, and Overheul now makes art about that. In a broader sense, Overheul is interested in how human behaviour comes about and how we as people influence each other.

Overheul creates artworks made of textiles, often based on photography. She works a lot with craft techniques that have long been dismissed as typical women’s hobbies, leisure activities. She combines this with politically charged subjects about women’s rights, emancipation and feminism, among others, to create a sharp contrast between the direct content and soft material. With soft-looking art, Overheul draws the visitor in while they do not always realise that the message is a political statement.

Overheul studied Fine Art at the HKU in Utrecht, followed by a master’s degree in Artistic Research at maHKU. Her work has widely been exhibited in The Netherlands and abroad, and she also creates commissioned work. Highlights being the solo exhibition Let’s Get Political at Museum de Fundatie, Zwolle, and the war memorial for resistance fighter Truus van Lier for the Municipality of Utrecht. In 2021, Waanders Kunst published the book ‘Let’s Get Political’ about the first ten years of her artistic practice.


The work of Joyce Overheul is currently supported by the Mondriaan Fund.

Opening Expo van Joyce Overheul in Museum W I.o.c. Joyce van Cruchten Marketing en Communicatie Museum W Foto Jeroen Kuit
Photo by Sabine Metz

Others about me

(as published in “STARTERS”, Metropolis M, issue no.4, 2012)

“Every year Metropolis M portrays some promising artists who studied at the art academies. This time the students emanate from HISK Gent, KABK The Hague, MaHKU Utrecht and the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam.

Joyce Overheul – MaHKU, Utrecht
Joyce Overheul has recently graduated from maHKU in Utrecht. Born in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands in 1989, she is one of the youngest fine art MA alumni in the Netherlands. 

Overheuls practice spins around her ongoing research into participation and social media, while in the broader sense she examines the borders of ‘the private’ and ‘the public’ in the everyday life. Her interest derives from observing the ways how people act in the social networks ignoring the fact that it’s a semi-public space, and what drives them to act so. It’s notable that as a hobby Overheul is obsessed with taxidermy, which could be read as the way of testing the scope of life and death, or turning the life creature into it’s model, thus privatising the existence. 

The mass psychology as it extends through the phenomena of social networking and self-representation is always the core of the artist’s work even though it is not always placed in the internet. Through her practice Joyce activates unconscious mechanisms which motivate people to interact with artificial situations she creates, actively provoking an individual to participate in her work without being aware of it. 

Her social experiments has been surprisingly successful in terms of audience participation. For example her recent ongoing work The World’s Most Exclusive Membership is an invitation to a passer by to join the nonexistent VIP community through web registration, which artist promoted in the public arena by leaving specially produced clues, attracted over 15.000 visitors to the related website. Some of her ‘vanity fair victims’ passed the procedure of registration up to 40 times desperately filling in the proposed registration form as in fact the artist gave them no chance to really register. 

Speaking of other Joyce’s works it is intriguing how she makes people participate in the most impossible projects: starting from sending her their medicine and coming to giving her their personal details not even asking what she would further do with what she got or even giving her a permission to film their private life for 24 hours without cutting out the most intimate moments made to be shown in a public space. 

Joyce Overheul is still very young and her practice is yet to be developed, but her constant curiosity in how things work and the nature of her projects is as promising as I imagine could be Francis Alÿs or Gianni Motti in her age.”

Photo by André Smits
Photo by Benning & Gladkova
Photo by Marjolein Sponselee

Others about me

(Foreword for the book ‘Let’s Get Political, October 2021)

“Let’s get political, with a title loosely based on the song by Olivia Newton John, is an exhibition of the work of Joyce Overheul at Museum de Fundatie – her first solo museum show, I am delighted to point out. Joyce Overheul graduated from Utrecht art school HKU in 2012, and is one of a generation of artists who have moved well beyond the romantic idea of art for art’s sake (l’art pour l’art). Her generation has no truck with the idea that art is somehow isolated in self-reflection, and thus constitutes a better, parallel universe. And a good thing too, I am tempted to say, because at a time when we face such huge challenges, as we all constantly stumble from one crisis to the next, and the only consensus is that lots of things need to be done differently, now more than ever we need the power of art. Museum de Fundatie ventured into this territory earlier this year with exhibitions on a hundred years of activist art, from the Berlin Dadaist and photomonteur John Heartfield to Sticks and Typhoon, and Whose Is The World?, featuring thirty contemporary visual artists who seek to influence our lives through their work. Joyce Overheul had a terrific piece in that exhibition (Utility Box on Enghelab Street, 2019), which we have since acquired for De Fundatie’s collection. 

Joyce’s work is witty, skilled and often soft and inviting. It seems so easy to succumb to her seductive art, until you are hit by her sharp, piercing observations, which mercilessly expose human naivety and lust for power. It is easy to draw parallels with John Heartfield and, like him, Joyce Overheul is a child of her time. This makes her exhibition at De Fundatie at this moment so very interesting. In Joyce Overheul, the partiality of John Heartfield – leftwing, communist, uncompromising and faithful to an ideology – meets a communicator who seeks nuance, and has an eye for the individual and for personal choises.

To John Heartfield Let’s Get Political meant a world communist revolution. To Joyce Overheul it means awakening individuals, rejecting conventions and oppression, and focusing on one important thing: awareness and a willingness to take action informed by our humanity. This book includes a conversation I had with Joyce Overheul.

I would like to thank her for the collaboration, and for the faith she place in us.

– Ralph Keuning


Photo by Sabine Metz
Photo by me
Photo by Joep Eijkens
Photo by Luuk Huiskes