A House in the Dutch East Indies

text contribution

The movements of our bodies through cities and space carry with them pivotal social, political, and cultural potentials. Despite the typical association of bodily movement with the everyday and the seemingly mundane; when considered at length, our ability (or inability) to move through space offers us the possibility to transform from bystanders, into witnesses and activators of our cities.

Rights of Way, the body as witness in public space takes our bodily movements as a departure point to cross into the terrains of art, culture, architecture, sociology, literature, and politics, to envision varied forms of witnessing, and apply them to our direct environments. When many must still campaign to claim their stake in the public realm; when hate crimes and acts of institutional violence persist in the public sphere; when cities continue to grapple with the effects of mass surveillance, precarious citizenship rights, widespread gentrification, and divisive body politics, we seek to question, challenge, and re-envision who have the rights of way.

This publication comprises a collection of essays, interviews, texts, and images from a range of artists, researchers, academics, architects, and historians. Together, the contributions question our positions of access and in-access in space, and, in doing so, orchestrate the act of witnessing as a vital component in providing meaning to our cities.

For the Rights of Way publication, I contributed with a text composed of sentences taken from the handbook Ons Huis in Indië by Mrs J.M.J. Catenius-van der Meijden, Semarang, 1908. In this handbook, which was addressed to Dutch housewives in the Dutch East Indies, Catenius-van der Meijden explains in detail how to live in the colony and how to run a proper colonial household. By taking the passages from the book that describe the “Indies” house and the way it was used, and turning them into a conversation between different people, memories of the colonial house in the Dutch East Indies are revisited and spatialized.

Rights of Way
the body as witness in public space

Editor: Amy Gowen
Graphic Design: Studio Bramesfeld
Publisher: Onomatopee
Year: 2022

With contributions from:
Pauline Agustoni, Elia Castino,
The Dazzle Club, Shannon Finnegan,
Kevin Gotkin, Annee Grøtte Viken,
Amy Gowen,
Christa-Maria Lerm-Hayes,
Corinne Heyrman, Paoletta Holst,
Rahma Khazam, Alessandro Marchi,
Jeannette Petrik &
Soeria van den Wijngaard.

Rights of Way