Jean Demenni Exhibit: Colonial Love a Flightless Bird.

Jean Demenni (1866-1939) exhibit at The House of Masks & Puppets, Ubud (Rumah Topeng dan Wayang, Ubud).

Jean Demenni (1866-1939) exhibit at The House of Masks & Puppets, Ubud (Rumah Topeng dan Wayang, Ubud).

 

Dutch photographer Jean Demenni travelled and archived colonial Indonesia back when it was known as Hindia Belanda, the Dutch East Indies. At the opening to his exhibit in Ubud, there was a question period after the initial preamble.

After three hundred years of botched colonization, a Dutchman rose and, in front of an Indonesian audience, said they – the Dutch – feel no guilt for what they did, because it was all done out of a kind of love.

No one cut him off there.

In a bemused attempt to reassure us all,

“These feelings of ‘love’ continue – long after independence,” he added.

 

To find out if you agree with him, look around you now. Few examples of love – functional or true – are to be found.

And consider that true love eventuates a spectacularly violent end all too often, as well.

Let a Dutchman and an Indonesian bride exemplify all of the baggage of this brutal love story. What fiery lust and love and passion and deep-soul-death they knew. What horror of clashing volition. What fuddled dance.

Sweet and so bitter, so raw that no one calls encore.

It was that kind of love.

 

Maybe that kind of love that is only kind of love.

 

 

Tired of Speaking Sweetly

From The Inspirational Poetry of Hafiz

Love wants to reach out and manhandle us,

Break all our teacup talk of God.

If you had the courage and

Could give the Beloved His choice, some nights,

He would just drag you around the room

By your hair,

Ripping from your grip all those toys in the world

That bring you no joy.

Love sometimes gets tired of speaking sweetly

And wants to rip to shreds

All your erroneous notions of truth

That make you fight within yourself, dear one,

And with others,

Causing the world to weep

On too many fine days.

God wants to manhandle us,

Lock us inside of a tiny room with Himself

And practice His dropkick.

The Beloved sometimes wants

To do us a great favor:

Hold us upside down

And shake all the nonsense out.

But when we hear

He is in such a “playful drunken mood”

Most everyone I know

Quickly packs their bags and hightails it

Out of town.

Artisan: One of the photographs on display features a wayang kulit (puppet) maker in Java.(BD/Richard Horstman)

Artisan: One of the photographs on display features a wayang kulit (puppet) maker in Java.(BD/Richard Horstman)

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