Meet the Ferengi

Showing from 5th March to 24th October in the exhibition “Ferengi” in Museum Villa Mondriaan. While we wait for the museum to open, we can meet with the Ferengi from the exhibition right here:
What part of ourselves are we really, what part do we want to own? And what part of ourselves is made by others, or are we because we are expected to?
That is what the exhibition “Ferengi” is about, the desire to be an outsider.
The desire to be something other than ourselves. The desire to have nothing more to do with it and to hide ourselves completely in a stranger.


Dienke Groenhout, The Netherlands

This costume was introduced in the previous newsletter in the blog “stuff stuff stuff”. Nothing was bought for this ‘costume’. It is too heavy to walk with and thus it tells its own story. All the things we collect, all the stories from the past, memories, souvenirs are incorporated into it. They are precious materialized thoughts and sentiments until they become ballast. The ballast of a life became its own entity.

Ferengi Hollandinye

Dienke Groenhout

These two costumes are made entirely from material from my immediate environment. While I was wondering what it means to pass off as a Dutch citizen abroad, I wandered through my own soil. To begin with, my garden. There was a dead pine tree in it that had to be removed. And bamboo also grows there (an exotic by the way). While I was busy sawing and cutting the tree and the bamboo, I wondered which part of the Netherlands I wanted to represent if people call me Dutch. Maybe the nature? The ability to incorporate something exotic, something new and strange as part of our own identity? This is how the Ferengi Hollandinye (the Dutch stranger, because it looks like the first Ferengi, an Ethiopian stranger) was created, made of bamboo from the garden, grass from the floodplains and ‘test grasses’ from the WUR trial fields.
While Debek Ferengi (Hidden Stranger) has antlers from our fir tree, and is made of the wool of Grebbeveld Schapen &zo, where our Magirus is parked.

Debek Ferengi

Dienke Groenhout

Zaliwa, a midnight sun

Valerie Amani, Tanzania

A sea creature, Valerie wrote a poem to accompany this costume that has everything to do with her motto “Definition belong to the definers, not to the defined” (Toni Morrisson)

A midnight song
To be born in the ephemeral 
A water birth 
Holding balance between the seen 
And unseen  
A cleansing 
Or a drowning and reincarnation  
The many things that are felt 
But not understood 
We have become the contradiction of living as nature 
But not a part of it 
Placing home in the periphery 
We became observers of ourselves 
A water birth 
Is a breaking birth 
A limitless birthing occurring 
And reoccurring 
Until we understand 
What we really are 
Is nothing like we wanted to be 
A midnight sun 
Moving mysteries 
Inhaling and transforming 
Like the texture of our skin 
And the hypocrisy of humanity
Always changing
Hybrids today 
Hybrids tomorrow 
I try and relocate myself 
Hold on to a fluid identity 
A history I did not ask for 
But one I must claim 
And re-texturize


Tamrat Gezahegne, Ethiopia

“My Ecosapiens was born from my desire to see the urban and the rural coexist in symbiosis. Where the one strengthens the other, and both can live together in harmony and biodiversity. That they understand and share their cultural values and knowledge for a better future…”


Gígja Reynisdóttir, Iceland

‘Fjállkonan’ is a mythical woman who symbolizes the people and nature of Iceland. Traditionally, the lady, usually played by a famous actress, recites poems during Iceland’s national holiday. She is then dressed in a splendid, traditional mountain woman regalia embroidered with gold thread and flowers. In the twenty-five years that I have been living in the Netherlands, I have come to miss the rugged Icelandic nature and in particular the mountains more and more. It was therefore a logical choice for me to make my own personal ‘Fjállkonan’ for the Ferengi exhibition.

Watch below how the the Ferengi move around in their habitat. With special thanks to Jessie van Vreden, Pauline van Tuyll en Tania Romero.

And visit here the website of Museum Villa Mondriaan.

Ferengi (stranger)

From the 5th of March until the 19th of September the exhibition Ferengi is showing in Museum Villa Mondriaan.
You can visit the project “Ferengi” (Stranger) the first few weeks online and hopefully from April in a live visit!

The exhibition is showing costumes in a broad sense of the word, meaning: you can wear them but they are much more than just a decorative function for the body. 
They communicate the identity of their makers. Dienke Groenhout, the initiator of this project, made three of the costumes. The other costumes are made by Tamrat Gezahegne from Ethiopia, Gígja Reynisdóttir from Iceland and Valerie Asiimwe Amani from Tanzania, all artists that Groenhout met during her travels. Videos of the performances in which the costumes are being worn provide insight into the functioning of the costume as an extension of the identity.

The artists wonder what an identity actually is, which part of it is just a coincidence, which part is allocated and which part is a personal achievement. According to the Ferengi project, identities are located in a symbolic time and space in an imaginary geography. Fictional, so to speak. Partly by oneself and to a large extent by a group, an entire society or a political idea. 

Please also visit the site of Museum Villa Mondriaan.



Ron van der Sterren made a nice podcast about the MakeFactory and Dienke (in Dutch). Made for listening on the train, but can also be heard from another place! Click here.

Tussenstop (7): Dienke Groenhout van de Maakfabriek


The exhibition “Child of Freedom” in the Nationaal Onderduikmuseum in Aalten has been extended until October. Read here our previous post about “Child of Freedom”


As an artist you are mostly preoccupied with stuff all the time. If you take artistry very physically, you actually see things moving around all the time. It’s a lot of dragging.

The third costume I’m making for the ‘Ferengi’ exhibition has everything to do with all that stuff that just keeps sticking to me. Some things for years. Some even belonged to a grandmother or grandfather… Really almost everyone has too much stuff.

In the book ‘Are we human?’ about design, it says that the one thing that distinguishes humans from animals is that they design and produce an infinite stream of things. With all that design, they finally also redesign their own behaviour and that makes humans the only species who, with all the necessary design that has been devised for their facilitated survival, ultimately also makes that same survival less and less likely. In other words, humans design their own demise and look at it with a strange mixture of pride and horror.

“Oh dear!” I thought, “how do I relate to this as an artist? I am a nest polluter! Maybe worse than many others!” I am pre-eminently busy putting my thoughts on the world in a physical form. Thoughts sprout from my mind made of wood, and rope and plastic and stuff and paint, objects of considerable size!
These things in their specific composition have indeed been spirited with an idea and a meaning, put into them by me and by the public, but once the work of art has done its job, I cannot deny that a lot of material is left meaningless.
The value of the material can suddenly be lost when the artwork is finished.

That is why I thought that for that third costume I could only recycle previous artworks and possibly use things that I already possessed and that had accidentally stuck to me while traveling or elsewhere.
It wanted it to become a kind of collected ‘thought cloud’ that shows how thoughts and ideas become a form of material.
Slightly round or convex. A Rolliebollie.
In my head that became the working title of the collection sphere.

In Namibia they call the dung beetle a rolliebollie. Nice word.
I wondered if there was any other similarity between the beetle’s dung ball and my work, other than the round shape and the fact that I felt like I was dragging around a lot of shit. Why does a dung beetle actually collect dung? I looked up a few things about the dung beetle. The beetle eats the dung, but also appears to be an important player in the field of diversity. Besides moving about 100 kilos of soil per year, a beetle also spreads a lot of seeds.
Perhaps you could say that an artist, and even more so a traveling artist, does the same for culture, providing diversity?
In addition, the Egyptians worshipped the scarab beetle as a sacred creature because the Egyptians believed that the beetle recreated itself over and over again. The beetle does indeed lay an egg in a rolliebollie from which a new beetle emerges. The dung beetle was therefore given the initials XPR in the hieroglyphs, where the X stands for origination, the P for creating and the R for transforming.
I may not eat things, but as an artist I do need them as ‘food’ for ideas.
I transform stuff, I could say…
Seen in this way, I actually think the above text on the bag is a compliment.
Yippee! I am a dung beetle!