Ajo laten we dansen (C'mon, Let's Dance)

Eliza Bordeaux
A visual essay of the undefined exotic
Practice Autonomous Practices
Project Public and Private
Major Photography
Year Fourth Year

Nomination: Drempelprijs 2018, Steenbergen Stipenduim 2018

In the end - selective or not, the memories we build upon seem real to us.

With this project, I investigate family scars that touch identity on a personal and national level due to the former colony of the Dutch Indies. By focussing on the aspect of denial- which takes form as nostalgia, trivialization and the clash with traumatization, I hope to shake current colonial amnesia and propose different perspectives on established assumptions (for example perfect integration) by claiming space for long-awaited recognition of a broader group of Dutch immigrants. I do this by reinterpreting archive materials, adding personal insides and creating space for the interior self.

I investigate the presentation of the erased colonial past during Kumpulans. How do nostalgia and rejection of the past coexist? What does a cultural construction mean in order to understand the past? In the end - selective or not, the memories we build upon seem real to us.

Almost two million people in the Netherlands are descendants of The Dutch Indies. National consciousness about the Dutch Indo community in the Netherlands mainly consists as representation of the colonial realm.


Previous political imaging, traumatic war and many experiences after crossing the earth to start a life over; all led to a mixture of (his)stories commemorated in a display of nostalgic gatherings called Kumpulans. These cultural events seem to be constructed and hold together by common memories. Perfectly screened to leave room for joy only. Or is it not?

Perfectly screened to leave room for joy only. Or is it not?

This project consists of photography works and a video, both form basis for Eliza's graduation project.

Curious about Eliza's artistic practice? Visit her website.

Steenbergen Stipendium short introduction:

"Eliza Bordeaux is one of the almost two million Dutch people with roots in the former Dutch East Indies. But what does this mean? In search of her past, she went to various Kumpulans: nostalgic get-togethers where people like herself dance and reminisce about the old days. It might seem like going to a Kumpulan would be a great night out, but Bordeaux’s photographic installation suggests otherwise: the confetti is as grey as a thundercloud, and a plastic pot palm meant as part of the decor looks rather pathetic instead.
Bordeaux wonders if there’s really that much to celebrate. Why is so much attention devoted to important events in Indonesia’s colonial past while almost nobody stops to consider the impact - the move to the ‘motherland’ (the Netherlands) and the ‘smooth-as-silk process of integration’ - this colonial past had on people? Bordeaux’s open, light-hearted approach blames no one, but she is evidently surprised at both the ignorance among Dutch people about their history as a colonial power on these islands and the ability of her father’s generation to ignore this pain and sadness."