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Fotografie Chantal van lobbrecht

Jenna Vervoorn

Jenna Vervoorn (1998, Rotterdam) is an illustrator with a modern handwriting. Her project reflects the search for her Indische roots. Like most Indos, she inherited Indische food, hospitality and the Pasar Malam from home. But she wanted to dig deeper and discover her family history. According to Jenna, art can be a powerful tool to break the silence, to get certain questions answered. Her goal is to break the Indische silence. By sharing her family story, she hopes to fill that silence in others or encourage them to have conversations about the shared history.

Dissecting the past 

Jenna Vervoorn, prints on textiles, 2024

Dissect = symbolizes pulling apart history

You dissect silence because you pull it apart, breaking the silence. With Dissecting the Past, Jenna Vervoorn tells her family story through self-designed textiles. You travel back with her to the war years in the former Dutch East Indies, where her grandmother was born. The canvases reflect emotions of sadness, despair and fear, but also the desire for a better future and the arduous journey to a new existence. 

Her grandmother’s story is a central element. She grew up in Batavia (Jakarta) in a turbulent time, lost her father in a prisoner-of-war camp and faced having limited opportunities as a young girl in the East Indies. Full of courage and determination, she left for the Netherlands at the age of 18. Once she arrived in the devastated city of Rotterdam, her grandmother had to start all over again on her own. Something Jenna couldn’t possibly imagine. Despite her homesickness and sadness, she overcame her obstacles. She focused on the present and built a better future for herself and her offspring. Her story breaks the silence and reflects her resilience.

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