This work, based on the forlorn undertone of the Dutch author Nescio’s novel ‘Young Titans’(Titaantjes,1915), centres on the idea of boundary and how it tells the identity of a culture. Boundary represents both protection and exclusion, in this work it relates to the history of Afsluitdijk and the political campaign slogan ‘Doe Normaal’ — each of them denotes a territory and a value.

After working with Ineke van der Sommen (basket weaver) and studying the archive of traditions in Zuiderzeemuseum (NL) for 6 months, I came to see more clearly the permeable nature of cultural boundary. No objects were made ‘purely’ Dutch - they all had been influenced by other cultures, which my previous project ‘Tulip Pyramids (2016)’ has also shed light on.

With such understanding in mind, Ineke and I didn’t only weave the willows with other materials like bamboo and ready-mades, but also interweaved the history of Afsluitdijk with my experience as a foreign resident in the Dutch society. I transformed the slogan of Dutch party VVD ‘Doe Normaal’ into the pattern on the rocking horse by altering the letters of IKEA’s ‘Welkom’ doormats; and I put integration examination questions into the custom-made fortune cookies made for the spectator. The work thus calls attention to the grey area of cultural cliche and law, as well as initiates the discussion about the sense of belonging- what makes one really ‘welcomed’ and ‘acceptable’ in a society?

Young Titans