Dear Japanese is a photo-documentary centred on Miyuki Okuyama’s research into the descendants of Indo-European women and Japanese men, who are presently residing in the Netherlands. Whether born from unions that were consensual or against these women’s wills following the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies in 1942, the identities of these children’s parentage were often kept secret for prolonged periods of time. Regardless, this group of individuals has faced a cascade of persecution and stigmatisation; be it in the early days of post-colonial Indonesia, or following their “repatriation” to the Netherlands – a land to which they had never been.
The presentation featuring portraits of these individuals, bearing both Asian and European facial features, set amidst Dutch scenes is a two-fold juxtaposition. It simultaneously alludes to the challenges stemming from their hybrid ancestries in their everyday lives, while highlighting the complexities of negotiating notions of home and personal identity amidst the burden of history.
Miyuki Okuyama (b.1973, Japan) creates photographic images from the perspective of an expatriate Japanese. With a rootedness in personal history, her works question the stability of the notion of home, capturing the world directly surrounding herself, through her own view as a Japanese outside Japan. She lives and works in Arnhem, the Netherlands.