Meet the artists | Lala & Lara
During the project 'My story, shared history' six Indonesian and six Dutch artists with an Indo-Dutch background create work together on their shared history. The Indonesian writer and visual artist Lala Bohang and Indo-Dutch writer and historian Lara Nuberg decided to write a collection of stories. In The Journey of Belonging, Lara and Lala explore what binds them. What are their thoughts after the first week of working together?
Impact of history
“The theme of this project Personal stories, national histories, is great,” Lara tells. “I think it is important to understand the impact of history on a personal level. That’s why I really like the idea of Indo-Dutch and Indonesian participants working together.” During the workshop week in Jakarta in July, the artists explored their shared history, learned about new perspectives, talked about identity and how they relate to national history.
Lala called her mother to ask more about her family history, something the family never really talked about. She discovered she had a European ancestor. “I always thought I was a mix of Chinese and Indonesian and a bit of German, but that’s never officially confirmed by my grandmother. But during this project, I found out I am also Eurasian and my great grandmother is a Dutch-German. That is huge for me, in terms of the realisation that I know so little about the history of my family! After this project, I want to explore more about my family history. In my work, I usually talk about the struggle of human beings in general from various themes and their feelings: the grey spectrum of humans. Now I feel I want to dive more in my history.”
The reason why we are here
Lara, who is currently writing a novel about her family history, blogs about her research and daily observations. “It is interesting to see that there are so many similarities between us as human beings. We were talking about equality and inequality and how the western world sees Indonesia, and how Indonesians see the western world. For example, when I was young, we lived next to an Indonesian family; they moved to the Netherlands in the 1960s. My parents would always say: 'They are Indonesians. They are not like us because we are Indo-Dutch.' But what I see in this project is that we actually speak the same language. There is not so much difference between us. It doesn’t matter if you’re Indo-Dutch or Indonesian. You’re just both human and you have your ideas and dreams. I think getting to know people from different countries, everyone should do that. It will make you understand that there’s not so much difference in the end."
Lala: “I agree with you, it opens our minds. You are very curious about your personal history and your identity. People in Indonesia usually just accept who they are, and are not digging deep into the history of their family, but of course, it has a reason. So I hope to learn from your curiosity on our personal history. It is the reason why we are here and why we are who we are.”
Lala Bohang and Lara Nuberg at Komunitas Salihara, Jakarta, July 2019. Photo: Armando Ello