A reminder

By: Louk Vreeswijk

Mar 24 2019

Tags: ,

Category: Asia, India

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Focal Length:9.12mm
Shutter:1/0 sec

Name: Aaron
Place of Birth: Cochin
Age: 18 or 19  Sex: M
Seller: Jan Dircx de Beer
Buyer: Johannes Muller
Price: Rds 55
Sold at: Cape Town 17.6.1687

Me, a Dutchman, looking at old Dutch names written on T-shirts hanging on a clothesline at the waterfront of Fort Cochin. Container ships passing in the background.

The shirts draw me into the historical connection between Holland, Kerala and South-Africa. They are part of the presentation at the KMB2018 of Sue Williamson, an artist living in Cape Town, South-Africa. On the shirts she has written data from transaction records which she discovered at the Cape Town Deeds Office. 119 shirts, for 119 deeds of sale of slaves from India, sold by their – Dutch – masters in Kerala, transported to South-Africa by the – Dutch – East India Company, and bought by their new – Dutch – masters in Cape Town.

Name: Cupido
Place of Birth: Malabar
Age: 11 or 12  Sex: M
Seller: Siewert de Jongh
Buyer: Cornelis Dekker
Price: Rds 84
Sold at: Cape Town 11.6.1692

I like reading these familiar Dutch names, in spite of the ambivalent feeling they create in this context. They take me back to my home country of earlier times, like the names on the graves at the nearby Dutch cemetery in Kochi. Not particularly a part of the ‘glorious 17th century Dutch history’ to be proud of. Good to remind us, Sue Williamson!

(For my Dutch readers: Kunnen we Boreas niet vragen de renaissancevloot met het vlaggeschip onder aanvoering van admiraal Baudet snel zuidwaarts te blazen en bij Kaap de Goede Hoop jammerlijk op de klippen te laten lopen?)

Photos of the week: Sue Williamson, One Hundred and Nineteen Deeds of Sale, Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2018, Kerala, India

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