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Tromarama’s “Growing Pillars”: A Mélange of Personal Narratives and Public History

CultureArtTromarama's "Growing Pillars": A Mélange of Personal Narratives and Public History

The renowned Indonesian art group, Tromarama, is taking a bold step in its latest installation. Drawing from personal archives and intimate familial memories, the collective presents “Growing Pillars,” an evocative media artwork that graces the expansive LED screen along the West Kowloon harbourfront.

The artwork is a mesmerizing collection of scanned images and items from the artists’ personal collections. It showcases materials like Indonesian citizenship records, family photo albums, and other memorabilia, which are brought to life across the enormous 110-meter wide LED display. The transition between these poignant memories is marked by “cleaning” motions, like a hand sweeping a tabletop. Many of these materials have been concealed for years, even from the eyes of family members. Only through this artistic endeavor did the artists unearth forgotten fragments of their family histories.

Herbert Hans, a pivotal member of Tromarama, shares the group’s vision for the project. Upon visiting the site for the first time, they felt it bore the weight of a monument. They realized that while monuments were traditionally top-down commemorations, this was their chance to turn the tables. By transforming the public space with personal memories, they aimed to flip the narrative and give voice to individual histories. “Growing Pillars” became a testament to the intricate dance between private and public memory, which are inextricably linked.

While curating the memories, Hans stumbled upon a revelation about his own family. He unearthed his father’s Indonesian citizenship record, which narrated the tale of an immigrant who changed his Chinese surname to assimilate into the Indonesian society. Such significant parts of history had never made it to their family discussions.

Similarly, Ruddy Hatumena, another member of the collective, introduces a photo album into the artwork. At a cursory glance, the album brims with wedding photographs, capturing the happiest moments of a family’s history. However, Hatumena’s own wedding, which was against family wishes, was conspicuously absent. Through “Growing Pillars,” he found a haven to confront both joyous and painful memories.

Febie Babyrose, the third artist of the trio, delves deep into her heritage. She incorporates blue Dutch ceramic figurines that adorned her grandmother’s residence. These figurines stand as a testament to a Dutch national’s choice to adopt Indonesian citizenship post the nation’s liberation from Dutch rule, which spanned over three centuries.

For Tromarama, this project is more than just an art installation. It’s an exploration into the realms of personal and public memory. Memories, while deeply personal, don’t exist in isolation. They’re shaped by societal events, influences, and narratives. By placing these personal narratives on a public pedestal, Tromarama offers a unique perspective on how private stories are continually molded by public perceptions.

In essence, “Growing Pillars” challenges viewers to reflect on the intricate weave of individual memories against the backdrop of collective history, illustrating the undying bond between the personal and the public.


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