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Tukar Tambah / Trade Up

Interactive performance at China town in Semarang 5 March 2012


This work and some other works developed in 2011/ 2012 were inspired by the Peranakan culture. The Peranakans in Indonesia created a specific culture, which is more than adding individual elements of the three main ethnicities – Chinese, Indonesian, and Dutch.
Indonesia's ethnic Chinese community is recovering its poise after years of persecution under the President Suharto's 32-year authoritarian regime. Since 1998 they are able to reclaim their existence in public by celebrating Chinese New Year, creating festivals and China towns.
I did a performance at ‘Pecinan’, China town in Semarang, bringing a ‘pikul’, carrying Dutch bleu tiles along the street looking for a place in between the food stalls. I invited the people to exchange the tiles with anything they wanted to barter, except money. Science, knowledge, religion and trading objects have traveled the world and with this performance ‘Tukar Tambah /Trade Up’ I tried to trigger the discussion about the strength of hybrid cultures. On a hundred bleu tiles I added phrases related to Indonesia’s multi cultural history, something to think about when the tile is brought home.
See also ‘The Coasters I’, ‘Coat of the declined’, ‘The Frontiers’ and ‘The Pioneer’.