The Strange Familiar (2021)
Two years ago my grandfather renounced his keris on the advice of the church leader, because he was told that Christianity could not go together with this Javanese mystic blade. Therefore I decided to find a keris myself.
During my search, I meet a dukun, a traditional Javanese healer. From the very first moment, this feels like home. Many objects and symbolism that I come across in this place gives me a feeling of nostalgia, originating from my childhood. As a child, I spent half of my time with my Javanese grandparents. They took me along to all kinds of celebrations of family and friends. In this way, the Javanese culture was always a reality for me, something that is slowly disappearing around me in last few years. When I ask my mother why her generation is not that interested in their Javanese roots, I got the answer:
Probably because that history is not so beautiful.
Therefore I choose to tell a story which focuses on my search for community and belonging. I want to rediscover an abandoned heritage in hopes to connect with my sacred past. It is a story I actually want to tell the next generation, without all the tragedy and suffering. By performing rituals according to Kejawen, such as a spiritual cleansing, I find peace and acceptance in where I come from and who we are.
When Things Are Beings
Amsterdam, NL | 2022
Gert Jan van Rooij
The Strange Familiar
Photography, design & texts:
80 pages, linen cover
Edition of 2