Kevin van Braak, Rabin Huissen, Sarojini Lewis, Sandim Mendes, Sara Rajaei, Sara Hamadeh, Abhishek Thapar, Nicola Unger, Efrat Zehavi
Going Back to Forget reflected the growing, shared interest among younger generations in the Netherlands in history, cultural legacies, and their own interconnectedness to global relations. The artists in this exhibition actively reconnected to their family histories by returning to the places where they were played out, recounting oral histories, or keeping alive memories of experiences their parents or grandparents never spoke of or were unable to communicate.
The artists’ quests resulted in works in which the art of storytelling, ritual acts, material traces, shadow images, tactile and taste sensations and personal presence are recurring features.
Sarojini Lewis (1984) followed the traces of migration histories with which she is entwined; a journey that took her from the Netherlands to Suriname, India, England, and Palestine. She portrayed herself in these landscapes, and in video performances, allowing the cultures of her ancestors to leave their imprints on her skin.
The work of Sandim Mendes (1986) is motivated by a desire to weave herself into the legacy of Cape Verdean culture. She delves into relatives’ memories, using her imagination to fill in the gaps. In a new installation, she reconstructed the stories with which her grandfather, in his social role as a griot, transmitted oral history and knowledge and foresaw a future life elsewhere.
In an intense new video work, Sara Rajaei (Abidan, Iran, 1976) employs a child’s perspective to find a voice for memories of a hostile world that hitherto could not be spoken. Rajaei’s use of strong, mental images bears witness to experiences for which documentary imagery often fails.
Kevin van Braak (1975) went to Indonesia to make a shadow play to portray the story of his grandfather, who was forced to work on the Burma railway line as a prisoner of war. The result is an epic narrative of a past we should never forget, but it is also a ceremony that helps to free his grandfather’s spirit from this traumatic history.
Rabin Huissen creates abstract memory images. During travels, he captures imprints of his temporary presence that he develops on-site using sea or river water. Huissen stores these images in boxes, which he only opened during personal meetings with visitors, thus emphasising that re-activating memories is a moment of intimate engagement.
The exhibition’s public programme explored the broader artistic significance of memory and personal interconnectedness. The programme included a lecture performance by Sara Hamadeh, a book presentation and discussion with artist Efrat Zehavi, a video experiment by performance artist Nicola Unger, and a solo performance by theatre-maker Abhishek Thapar whose brave and moving ‘My Home at the Intersection’ inspired this exhibition’s title.
The artist duo RoosWiesBlauw designed a workshop in which children from groups 7 and 8 explored the exhibition’s topics and created an online audio play.