A Well Respected Man, or Book of Echoes Wendelien van Oldenborgh

Published by Sternberg Press, Berlin & CasCo, Utrecht, 2011, 140 pages (b/w ill.), 21 × 30 cm, English/Dutch/Indonesian Bahasa

Price: €18

The publication unfolds and draws an open-ended connection between individual and collective struggles and (emotional) conflicts intertwined with the colonial and decolonizing histories of Indonesia and the Netherlands by taking two film works by artist Wendelien van Oldenborgh, No False Echoes (2008) and Instruction (2009), as points of departure. Both films take up rarely spoken fragments of the Dutch colonial past, particularly related to Indonesia, that are dormant but still affective in contemporary Dutch society. With the participation of different historical and contemporary stakeholders set against specific built environments, these two films are presented in the form of photo-novels. The film No False Echoes introduces one of the major historical sources cited in full in the publication, that is, a 1913 essay on national freedom by Soewardi Soeryaningrat, an Indonesian nationalist—or “revolutionary”—whose radical position manifested in the essay is widely known in Indonesia. The reprint of this essay is accompanied by two contemporary responses by Lizzy van Leeuwen and Nuraini Juliastuti, which in turn open another text written in 1935 by Soeryaningrat under a different name, Ki Hajar Dewantara, concerning national education in Indonesia. The latter text indicates the shift in political strategies, which, instead of fearless resistance, moves forward toward gradual building of counter-institutions of “upbringing” of new independent subjects. Designed by Julia Born.

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