放下武器跟我走 (Lay down your weapon, follow me)
Seven is the number of days in a week, four the number of weeks I got to spend at home during the June school holidays. The last week was always the hardest, my siblings and I counting down the days, starting with seven, before we had to return to Singapore.
The installation is made up of twenty eight pecis* that were modified into pinhole cameras to produce a corresponding number of paper negative prints. The source images were press photos of Indonesia’s first president Sukarno delivering his speeches at various occasions. Sukarno spoke of the peci as an emblem for Indonesian national identity — an identity I wasn’t able to tangibly grasp while growing up overseas.
Twenty-eight pinhole cameras, made of black velvet, arrayed in four tiers of seven around a central brass ring, to recall (reclaim?) memories of an equal number of Hari Kemerdekaan** I celebrated, while being apart from Tanah Air***.
I bought the pecis for the installation from my birthplace at Solo City, Indonesia. They are all of size nine instead of eleven, the latter was what I was looking for at first. “Javanese men wear size nine kopiah*” so said the seller. This was doubly confirmed later by the man in charge of shipping at the post office.
*peci or kopiah is the Indonesian equivalent of the Malay songkok or the Turkish fez hat. It comes in various designs and fabrics but the flat top made of black velvet is most commonly worn by Javanese men, including Indonesian Presidents ever since Sukarno popularised it.
**Hari Kemerdekaan means Independence Day in Bahasa Indonesia.
***Tanah Air means homeland in Bahasa Indonesia.