How does an indigenous cultural law survive within modern society?
2551 words


A interest of within that I've been using in the past as a research tool, is to dissect and reconstruct. It's a way to get a better understanding but also to question the autonomy of certain systems and structures. This is a reminder to not forget about the value of using this interest as a tool.

breaking the continous loop of thoughts

Talking about insights and opinions of my process helps me to stay reminded of the essence of a project and putting it into perspective. Despite the fact that I attach great value to this, I also think it is important that I regain confidence in relying on my own strengths again. I realize now that I'm feeling blocked by myself due to lost confidence.

I don't want to fully exclude discussions with others because it's still helpful to put findings into perspective and it gives me fresh energy to continue with. A solution that I am going to explore is to start writing about my process. I'll be using this blog as an output to share writings with myself, so that I have a fixed place where I can come back to whenever I feel like I'm losing overview.

Not only will this be helpful for the research on my ancestors, it will also help me finding a working structure to hopefully continue on, or at least give insight in what works for me as a maker. Creating a blueprint of structure that is applicable to future projects isn't what I mean to achieve. It would not be realistic and is disadvantaging to the creative process. The exploration of writing what's on my mind is meant to test options that help regaining grip and to get a better understanding of what happens when I lose it and what I can do to find it back.


Don't walk into an Indonesian police station with the RMS-flag wrapped around your body. It can result in a 2-3 year prison sentence, with treason as a reason.

Pengadilan Negeri Ambon menjatuhkan vonis ringan kepada tiga aktivis Front Kedaulatan Maluku, lembaga yang berafilisasi dengan Republik Maluku Selatan (RMS), dengan dijerat pidana kasus makar.


The state of not being hidden.

History protected by stone. Stone as cold as their heart, hard as their deeds. Too high to look them in the eye and too blind to see realistically. Colonialist figures represented by a statue only represent their own. Standing solid at the same place every day, putting their true nature on display. Ages have passed and still they execute power over reframing our past. From a distance, power to show their existence. Demanding us to look up at them, while they look down on us. We serve it, while they don’t deserve it.

Their names forever engraved, silencing stories that could have been saved. Their faces still celebrated, dishonest stories overtime faded. Faded as the truth about their lies, uncovering their true disguise.

The one mortalized in stone gets more to say than our own. The colonialist from then is doing it again. Allowing the chaos they create, while being in a safe space. Their big presence, more important than their essence. Size did matter back in the day. But the latest is, the greatest isn’t the greatest. The silenced rejoice and reclaim their voice. Static durability will sink down into the abyss of resilient fluidity.

group manifesto
Yor, Ruub, Nik

hey bung Willy,

Years fly by and this man manages to keep hold onto his position. Standing with both feet on the ground, guarding its pedestal. He was made to be big from the start of his existence. The wealth he provided, payed for the memory they choose to create. I decline to fall for his size, but I do choose to create too.
I'll create a memory; whenever I think of him again, I will look at what he is created by. I will look at his skin, that is now heavy, hard and cold. I will look at him and be reminded of what I see: a man turned into stone, as cold as his heart and as hard as his deeds. I will be reminded of how his soul is now equivalent to his physique.

Only having the ability to be seen, not to be heard. While he keeps standing still, I'll keep on moving towards my ancestors. Imagining that he will see the pain that he has left and the voices he has taken away. I'm hoping for him to see the beauty of the Alifuru, and to understand their loyalty to their belief. I will imagine him looking at me, see me and acknowledge the history we share. I will imagine him understanding that we were once both constructed by the same materials. I will imagine he'll get off his pedestal once my part of our shared history is being heard.

longing to belong [by a biracial being]

It's not that I just want to know about the ancient culture of the Alifuru, it's that I want to feel the Alifuru belief from within. It's deeply engraved in my body and soul, all I need to find are the ingredients to extract it.

words by my hometown about the people I (desire to) belong to

full article:

Willy Nanlohy hands over black book of J.P. Coen to Prince Claus.

In 1987 Moluccan artist Willy Nanlohy discovered that his basement exhibition at the Westfries museum was linked to the main exhibition about the VOC, where J.P. Coen was praised as an important historical figure throughout the whole exhibition, and in the form of a statue.
On the opening of Nanlohy’s exhibition, he communicated his frustration by covering all his pieces of work in black cloths as an expression of mourning. A group of Moluccan people secretly entered the opening to hand out pamphlets, while Nanlohy officially handed a detailed coverage of Coen’s deeds to prince Claus.

30 years later, there is still reason to mourn. I’m mourning because Coen’s deed to protect the Dutch trading business on the colonized Banda Islands made him deserve a statue. A celebratory statue of a historical figure that is responsible for genocidal actions, leaving only 1000 of the 10.000 Banda inhabitants alive.

Celebrating historical figures, silences historical tragedies.


structure of essay

rough draft of structure (in order to complete the essay)

1. indigenous product: in both movie and interview Donna uses her introduction by showing indigenous products. In the movie she explains her awareness of not having the right to own a a basket from Native American heritage. In the interview she shows a Abatista doll that us linked to the story of Mexican [look up village] women and their struggles with land and water.
2. the basket: she doesn’t have the right to own it, yet she is not feeling guilty about having it. She is aware of how her American history has negatively affected Native American history, an still is today. By keeping the basket, she makes sure she is staying reminded of the harm history has caused to indigenous people. The basket symbolises acknowledgement of history, awareness of its consequences and spreading the unheard stories of Native American’s.
3: touching culture: acknowledging the meaning of the basket doesn’t only touch the story of Native Americans. The moment she picked up that basket and demonstrated it virtually through a globally accessible medium, she picked up my story too. She took my history, held it up high and showed it to the world. She silently represented all concealed indigenous stories and acknowledged us.
4: terrestrial: “Living as a terrestrial being is in some sense coming to consciousness of what they always have been. We are in this together, no matter where we are positioned, we are responsible to and for each other. That’s about being terrestrial.” The Alifuru believe all natural things have a soul, which relates to what my parents taught me: “treat another the way you want to be treated yourself”. This Alifuru belief makes me believe they deal with nature by placing themselves in its position, the nature of others, by which they protect others while they both benefit from maintaining their origins. personal interpretation: my land is your land, treat it as same and we'll be as one too
5: kinship: protecting other’s nature isn’t only done within own surroundings. Pela, a ancient tradition that is included within the adat (unwritten law), means that all inhabitants of a pela-negeri (pela-village) are dedicated to help their pela-related negeri in times of crisis. The tradition started with the reason to make negeri’s more resilient against enemies and among each other.

weekly blog: 02

I have been working on the review and essay about Donna Haraway’s vision and theories based on different sources by or about Donna. The way it’s going now isn’t ideal, it takes much time because of following connections so far that I’m losing focus on what I’ve been writing about. I’m gaining much information, which disadvantages in losing touch with my writing purpose. The result of this is that I have numerous of small pieces of writing, varying in facts, opinions and ideas. The pieces aren’t useful on their own and are missing connections between each other in order to be linked together as one.

This is not only a writing issue, it’s something I deal with as a designer too. The difference is that within my design practice I get challenged by connecting findings together and think in solutions. With writing I’m losing overview and end up in a continuous loop of thoughts that eventually get more attention than needed.

I’m adding the topic of writing as a fourth learning goal. This will probably the goal that needs most attention and asks for awareness of the risks of personal qualities. (I believe my positive qualities are my negative or less positive qualities too, example: I care for details, this can lead to working part of a design out into perfection, with as risk to lose time in completing a full design with the same perfection)

I’m starting this goal by taking a step back from continuing writing on Donna Haraway and find out how I can improve my writing process.

To do:
1: process of writing
2: complications of process
3: solution to complications
4: apply solutions

note to self: no need to overthink, it’s only a small factor that doesn’t need hours to be figured out.

weekly blog: 01

When the Dutch started building windmills they not only protected their land from flooding and provided their people for food, it also was a new construct that became an iconic addition to the Dutch landscape. Today the windmills no longer function as their original intention, they have become a touristic sightseeing place where you get to learn how the Dutch interplayed between human, technique and nature.
Since the windmills are build to prevent the land from flooding, I find it questionable if it really was an interplay between those three aspects. It seemed more like an interplay between human and the humanly ability to create for their own favour and against the nature of water.
By re-designing the inside of the mills, Max and I made sure its new function would be to give back to nature.
[sketch + explanation: ...]

research question

How does an indigenous cultural law survive within modern society?

A common Moluccan character trait is Moluccan pride, pride to protect and celebrate our unwritten cultural law. This unwritten law, called adat, dates back to the time of the indigenous people from the Moluccan islands: the Alifuru. The Alifuru lived a spiritual way of life, where all natural things are believed to have a soul, and death is the fertility of life. Finding their general beliefs has made my semi-spiritual heart realise that part of my indigenous identity has been living through me all along.
The urge to understand the philosophy of the Alifuru and implementing it within my own way of life comes from multiple personal reasonings. Most importantly, the culture and land of my ancestors is slowly disappearing as a result of factors such as political climate, human rights violations, genocide, colonisation and climate change. Using my voice to speak for the ones whose voice are being unheard has been the motivation for all my projects, this time I'm using my voice to tell my own unheard story. This project is my way to use my Moluccan pride in advantage and thank my ancestors for the battles they have fought. To stand for my family on the islands who still live in a dangerous climate where they are not allowed to celebrate our Melanesian roots. For my grandparents who waited to return to their home in safety until their death. And for the Alifuru culture I’m proud to be part of.

learning goals

Balanced research
During my current study I got used to applying research by mostly using theoretical sources only. Collecting lots of facts, articles and research papers felt like a reliable way to create a base to work from conceptually. On the other hand, the research pattern that I’ve developed is disadvantageous in time and energy, which causes lack in experimenting and creating a corresponding visual language. Spending equally divided time and energy in theoretical, artistic and visual research will help me finding a working balance that benefits concept and visual language.

Symbolic deepening
Adding symbolic elements within my visual work reflects my identity as an artist and designer. It has changed the way I design, from dark backgrounds, white text and one color glowing outlines to bright colours, fluid shapes and symbolic details. Using ancient symbols during my internship has given new insights in narrative design. I think it’s amazing how one small element can carry so much information about different themes, while adding more underlaying meaning at the same time. Until now most of the symbols in my work are being chosen by feeling and basic knowledge. Digging further into ancient symbols and their background is a way for me to learn about the history of different cultures and communities. Getting to know more about those cultures can help me create better global understanding, which might contribute in putting things into perspective regarding to my own background. Next to this, symbolic deepening in the context of communication will make keep me to being critical and aware of why I should or shouldn’t use specific details.

Expert’s expertise
I will be researching an ancient culture of which it’s precolonial history isn’t documented well and the real truth of later history is being suppressed by their former sovereign state. I think the most insightful way to learn about a culture is to get involved, which is partly done since I’m part of the Moluccan culture. To dig deeper into unknown elements of my culture I find it important to gain knowledge through experts varying from professors and scientists to Moluccan people with different life experiences regarding their background. Getting involved with other people (from my culture) is a way of getting out of my comfort zone for multiple reasons, I hope it will make me feel more comfortable to mix with my people without feeling judged or ashamed for being brought up by Dutch standards.