Tinkebell is the nome de plume of Katinka Simonse – van Bruggen, a Dutch artist (or discussion designer as she calls herself). In her work she is deliberately confronting the audience with inconsistencies in their morals and behaviour.

A lot of her projects deal with our attitude with animals.
At one point she bought 60 one-day old male chicklets, of which 31 million are routinely destroyed each year in the Netherlands by gassing or shredding within hours of their birth (only female chickens are raised). She then gave visitors of an exhibition the option of adopting a chicklet, adding that all the chicklets not adopted at the event would be killed by her at the venue in the same way they would have been had she not bought them. Only 9 got adopted by the public. In the end the organizers of the exhibition stepped in and adopted the remaining animals, dumping them at the police station afterwards, and the police got involved for her ‘intention to abuse animals’.
Other projects explored the way people see pets and toys, buying dead animals from taxidermists and preparing them as well worn stuffed toys. The most discussed project is probably how she killed her old and dying cat herself (in stead of having the vet put her down) and use the skin to turn it into a handbag. This caused some public uproar, upon which she pointed out we have no qualms using leather for bags.

Her confrontational projects result in large amounts of hate mail being addressed at her. She collected all her hate mail from 2004-2008 and with her colleague Coralie Vogelaar researched what information about the hate mailers was publicly available through simple searches on the internet. Starting with the e-mail addresses they searched out Facebook profiles, blog URLs, photos etc. To find out if those people are “as scary as their e-mails, or just like” any of us. From all that material a book has been created, released this week, which shows the piece of hate mail and then a picture and other info about the mailer. Eighty percent of her hate mail originated in the US, and most of the more vicious hate mail came from younger people and was being sent late at night (sender’s time). At the same time there are plenty ‘soccer moms’ out there who show a hateful side in their e-mails.

I ordered the resulting book today. I find it intriguing to see the hate mail connected to the every day lives of their authors. A type of context collapse that the senders probably thought wouldn’t happen. The tensions between privacy and publicness are also worth exploring,as they are shown to be more paradox than opposites.
The book’s existence also raises questions about authorship, copyright etc. Those discussions are part of the book as well, in the form of essays by other authors.

Some hate mailers and their photos

(pictures are taken from a news paper article from Dutch newspaper article NRCnext on May 19th.)