The Excavation of Our Grief

Mei Oele
The research of the past is a quest for yourself
Practice Autonomous Practices
Project Honours/Visual Culture
Major Photography
Year Fourth Year

This project is divided into two parts, a research document and the project itself. To answer the question ‘In what way do the experiences of the first generation war survivors of the Japanese occupation and Indonesian War of Independence, affect my family and me?' I link sociological and psychological theories to the experiences of my family members and myself.

Next to the research document, my project is presented in the form of installation. For now, this installation is not open to visit yet, but I made a video, to give an impression of my project.

My photo archive is my life story. I use it as my diary.

'The Excavation of Our Grief' tells a story about the hidden past of my family. My mother is the child of two war survivors of the Japanese occupation and the Independence War in Indonesia. They are mixed Indonesian Europeans. After the war, my grandparents had moved to Holland and started a new life. A life where they adapted, to be seen as Dutch as possible, even if it meant losing their own culture.

In the video, produced for this project, the film fragments of my mother's childhood are combined with texts, written and spoken by family members. The first screening of the video is expected in a few weeks, more information follows.


Trigger warning: My family image bank contains images of ‘Black Piet’. I do not support this character. I have kept the images as they are essential to showing the Dutch traditions back in the 1970s.

Website Mei Oele