Het monument

_SUN3841Op 30 augustus 2006 is in Park Sacré-Coeur, een park tegenover Bronbeek aan de Velperweg in Arnhem, Sawah Belanda, het gezamenlijke monument van Joyce Bloem en haar zus Marion Bloem onthuld.

Het monument omvat een sawah (natte rijstvelden in terrasvorm) met zeven granieten pagina’s die rondom het rijstveld-landschap ‘zweven’.

Op de granieten platen staan flarden van verhalen: vertellingen uit de mond van Indische mensen zoals ze zijn opgetekend door de auteur Marion Bloem. Sawah Belanda gedenkt de Indo die door de koloniale tijd is ontstaan en na de revolutietijd naar Nederland is gekomen. Het kunstpark staat symbool voor de Indo’s die nu zo goed als opgelost lijken te zijn in de Nederlandse samenleving, die hun nostalgische herinneringen koesteren, die volkomen geassimileerd lijken, maar duidelijk hun sporen hebben achtergelaten in de Nederlandse cultuur.
Joyce Bloem ( visual artist) and Marion Bloem (writer) , Sawah Belanda, Arnhem, The Netherlands
The 2006 landscape installation, Sawah Belanda[1] is situated in a semi-public park in the city of Arnhem, Gelderland Province, The Netherlands. A segment of the larger landscape park is developed into several terraced enclosures. Water gathered in one enclosure flows into another slightly below its grade, and eventually dribbles back to the source. A non-motorized hydraulic system elevates the water into the uppermost enclosure from the nearby pond. The enclosures evoke the terraced rice paddies of the East Indies, as they are planted with bibits (rice seedlings) every June. The paths near Sawah Belanda are marked with several large stone tablets, incised with text from the works of the writer Marion Bloem.[2] Her writings gather and memorialize the experiences of Indos, former colonial people of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the East Indies. Though the park is open to the pubic, it is private property, stipulating that a separate entity must maintain all parts of the unique landscape installation, Sawah Belanda.
Sawah Belanda lies within the northeast reaches of the residential neighborhoods of Arnhem, right behind a Catholic hospice facility.[3] In fact the large and contemporary nursing home sits atop a slope in the landscape. Beyond the building the terrain drops away, and the wooded paths descend into the parkland, studded with marshy spots, ponds and streams. This is the perfect natural setting for Sawah Belanda, as the landscape installation capitalizes on the changing grade of the land, the ample availability of water, and the walking paths woven around the ponds. Residents of the nursing home and their visitors often stroll through the installation.
Sawah Belanda is a living, miniaturized rice plantation, grafted into the park. It inscribes the continued legacy of Dutch colonialism onto the land of the former colonial stronghold. The Dutch nationals who had descended from native populations in the islands of the East Indies, and had subsequently migrated to the Netherlands, endured the difficult emergence of an independent Indonesia after 1950.[4] The
Sawah Belanda installation bears witness to the existence, plight, sacrifice, life experiences and identity of this element of the Dutch population. Indos (in Dutch “Indische”) have gained prominence in Dutch society in the post-Cold War era. The group which perpetuates the existence of the landscape installation is organized into a foundation,[5] and consists of people whose heritage, directly or indirectly, is related to the colonial experience from the perspective of the other.
Arnhem is a city relatively remote from the global centers of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, though a major city east of Utrecht. The selection of this city for establishing Sawah Belanda was not driven simply by topography. Arnhem has become a center where the memory of Dutch colonialism is institutionalized in museums and public parks. Arnhem had been settled by wealthy planters from the Indies (now Indonesia), and a former royal palace in Arnhem has been turned into Museum Bronbeek.[6] Exhibits at Museum Bronbeek are based on the ‘souvenirs’ of disabled KNIL[7] soldiers. Museum Bronbeek is just a ten minute walk from Sawah Belanda.
Mrs. E. Tornai Thyssen, Art historian

[1] Indonesian words sawah= rice paddy, Belanda = The Netherlands
[2] Marion Bloem (b. 1952 Arnhem-), Wikipedia entry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marion_Bloem
[3] Regina Pacis: Hospice unit voor palliatieve zorg, Velperweg 158, 6824 MD Arnhem, NL [4] Conversation with Mrs. Jacqueline Melanie Bloem-Kouthhoofd, Tuil, June 14, 2015
[5] https://www.sawahbelanda.nl/
[6] Museum Bronbeek, Arnhem, The Netherlands
[7] Royal Netherlands East Indies Army (Koninklijk Nederlands Indisch Leger) in existence from 1819-1950.