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De kampschilders - Ellen Deckwitz in conversation with Jan Brokken

On art as salvation in inhuman circumstances

Podium B - Centrale Bibliotheek Den Haag, Spui 68, 5e etage
€12 | Bibliotheekpas, Ooievaarspas €10 | Jongeren t/m 30 jaar €6
Writers Series, 11 oktober 2023: De kampschilders - Ellen Deckwitz in gesprek met Jan Brokken - foto Jan Brokken: Jelmer de Haas, foto Ellen Deckwitz: Merlijn Doomernik
Writers Series, 11 oktober 2023: De kampschilders - Ellen Deckwitz in gesprek met Jan Brokken - foto Jan Brokken: Jelmer de Haas, foto Ellen Deckwitz: Merlijn Doomernik

In his latest book De kampschilders (The Camp Painters, published by Atlas Contact), Jan Brokken weaves together the story of his parents, Han and Olga, with that of prominent artists from Bali, Willem and Maria Hofker, and Rudolf Bonnet, who ended up in the same Japanese internment camp in colonial Dutch East Indies during World War II, alongside Brokken's parents.
In the midst of the camp's hardships, these artists depicted their fellow prisoners and managed to create beauty in those circumstances. Brokken not only portrays life in the camp but also delves into the pre-war artist community in Bali and explores how the trauma from the camp continued to affect his parents' lives after the war. This impactful and beautifully illustrated book has been well-received and is nominated for the Boekenbon Literatuurprijs, the winner of which will be announced in November 2023.

Writer and poet Ellen Deckwitz's grandmother, who had Indonesian roots, was also held in Japanese internment camps. Following her grandmother's passing, Deckwitz realized she was the only family member who had learned her life story. Her poetry collection Hogere natuurkunde (Higher Physics, published by Pluim) emerged from conversations with individuals of Indonesian heritage. The collection combines elements of travel narratives, mythology, and testimonies. Deckwitz was awarded the E. du Perron Prize for this work, and it was acclaimed by publications like Trouw, de Standaard, and NRC as the best book of the year.

Writers Unlimited is now bringing together these two acclaimed Dutch authors for a conversation. They will explore the role of art in the history of the Dutch East Indies and discuss what motivated them to transform these historical events into art. They will share their creative processes, offering insights into their journeys through the past. Additionally, both authors will provide readings from their impressive works, which are characterized by depth and imagination.

With musical accompaniment by poet and musician Robin Block, whose 'Handleiding voor Ontheemden' (Guidebook for the Displaced) was published this year: a poetic quest into Block's family roots in Indonesia.

This Writers Series program is in Dutch.
After the event, there will be a book sale by De Vries Van Stockum, along with an opportunity for book signing.
Programme curated by Shantie Singh (Writers Unlimited)

Writers Series: Ellen Deckwitz in conversation with Jan Brokken
Wednesday, October 11, 2023, 8:30 PM - 10:00 PM Central Library Podium B, Spui 68, 2511 BT The Hague

Writers Unlimited organises the Writers Unlimited International Literature Festival The Hague every year in January (2024 dates: 18-21 January) and monthly Writers Series programmes throughout the year at various locations in The Hague, including the Central Public Library (Centrale Bibliotheek) The Hague. The festival, featuring more than 100 writers, poets, spoken word artists and musicians from the Netherlands and abroad, will take place over four days at venues including Theater aan het Spui, Filmhuis Den Haag, Paard, Koninklijke Schouwburg, neighbourhood libraries, Hague universities and secondary schools.