Hester Oerlemans stands in front of her new artwork on the steps of the Erasmus Plaza. ‘Online’ is the title of the installation she made as a tribute to teachers as well as students at the EUR. The title refers to the need for online education during the corona crisis.

“When I was commissioned to make the piece, I thought ‘What does online education actually mean’,” Oerlemans recalls. “It’s basically us communicating with one another through icons in the virtual world.” So you use icons to say something. For example, you click on the hand icon if you want to say something, or you click on the icon of a crossed-out microphone if you have nothing to say.


Oerlemans selected 95 icons that serve as a means of communication in the virtual world. “This is perhaps my favourite,” Oerlemans tells us. She points to the icon of a book. “Because that is what I used when I started learning. Learning to read. And if we didn’t have them, maybe the rest would never have been achieved.”

The icon of the eye crossed out is another one that Oerlemans thinks is great. “My first idea was to make a text out of my work. ‘Can you hear me? You can see me?’: those are questions that we often ask before we start an online meeting. You always have to check quickly before you start communicating with each other. It’s actually quite an awful thought, putting a line through the eye, but in this case it’s a very direct way of saying: ‘I can’t see you’.”

Oerlemans believes that each icon has its own meaning. “Which of course you can interpret in various ways.”