The Disappearance of Arjen Kamphuis

In August 2018 Arjen Kamphuis vanished in Bodø, Norway. Being a prominent hacktivist and cybersecurity expert, many theories emerged following his disappearance.

Curiosities that fueled speculation:

– The headquarters of the Norwegian army, including a cyber defence unit, are located near Bodø. Given Kamphuis’ interests this cannot be a coincidence.

– His kayak and some of his belongings were found near Bodø, yet his mobile phone records suggest he has been 1700 km south of Bodø, at Vikeså, 10 days after he was last seen. Did truck drivers take his phone southward ? Or did the hacktivist led everyone astray ?  

– According to his close friends, Kamphuis occasionally hinted at wanting to disappear. Moreover, he has the skills to keep the outer world off trail.

– The cybersecurity expert faced adversity in his personal life, just before he left to Norway.

To this date, his body hasn’t been found. A fatal accident, voluntary disappearance, suicide or crime ? The enigma continues.

This mystery amidst mesmerising Scandinavian nature, inspired Jillis Groen to create a series of paintings, culminating in an exhibition which visualizes Kamphuis’ disappearance, and honours his intellectual legacy. Field research in Norway, and close contact with friends of the hacktivist, allowed Jillis Groen to add realism to the project.  A myriad of details, like his clothing, behaviour, and the Norwegian places Kamphuis went, were examined. 

Given the speculative nature of his missing, the series paints a rather ambiguous picture; Leaving ample room for projecting any storyline.

The exhibition was held at Hack42, a hackerspace Kamphuis contributed to. He gave workshops and lectures in the same chapel where the paintings were exhibited.

Later, in 2022, a selection of these paintings were exhibited at Manifestations (Dutch Design Week).

Gran knows why – 190 x 250 cm, oil on canvas
Into nothingness – 120 x 200 cm, oil on canvas
Omission – 120 x 200 cm, oil on canvas

Arjen – 50 x 40 cm, oil on canvas
Return to the void

This installation conveys Kamphuis’ fading into nothingness. Personal items of the hacktivist were used to build the installation.
Turmoil – 50 x 40 cm, oil on canvas

Manifestations (DDW)