One of the most heartbreaking things growing up in Indonesia is that we are habituated to not understanding our own history. Yes – we had history classes in school. Yes – we know what happened here and there. But we are satisfied to mere knowing than to comprehending our history as a tool of reflection and evaluation for our own present situations.
We have grown aspirations and spirit to improve our country, but we really kinda need to sprint. Our identity is somewhat fractured and our sense of history is weakening. I imagine American kids have to learn 300 years way back into their past and we can’t even recall properly what’s happening within the last 50 years. So many of those events were reconstructed in our history books, true; or they are bluntly removed from our history book, that’s also true.
But history isn’t just contained in events. Its existence live throughout our everyday objects: in our food, crops, clothing, urban spaces, architecture, transportation, music, language, dialects, religion, herbs and medicine, even our own names must have contained a specific history. So every little thing contains a story. History doesn’t need to be primarily political or social to matter. History simply means our story from the past.
When it comes to ‘contributing to the country’ spirit, the least thing you can do is to learn. Even when you do it in private. In fact, contributing without proper basis of learning and reflection might do more harm than good.
So, Tanah & Air is my reflection towards Indonesia’s history and a collection of memorabilia on our diverse, dizzying, complex, ever-changing, ever-evolving identities. Here I’ll talk about our everyday objects and their relationship towards our identities.
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