Only The Ports Are Loyal To Us takes its title from one of the prominent Dutch poet and novelist Jan Slauerhoff's travelogues "Alleen de havens zijn ons trouw"(red. Nijgh & Van Ditmar, Amsterdam 1992). In 1923, Slauerhoff signed up as a ship's doctor with the Dutch East India Company on the China-Java-Japan route. This nomadic sensibility was highly unusual for the time in which Slauerhoff was writing; it both harks back to 19th century Romanticism and anticipates today's extreme mobility.
Kwak will show her architectural, historical and visual research progress based on her long term research project, Unfinished Odyssey since 2015, through a short film, a series of documentary photography, photomontages, archival materials, and public events. The project focuses on geopolitical narratives linking Indonesia and the Netherlands through the entangled narratives between the port of Tanjung Perak in Surabaya and Java Island in Amsterdam. The headquarters of the Dutch East India Company was located in Surabaya, the second biggest city on Java Island and the first area developed by the Dutch colonial government. The port of Tanjung Perak was an important gate for the colonial government with shipping services. In Amsterdam, Java Island was created at the end of the 19th century by dredging water, and used for loading goods arriving from Indonesia. The stories linking the island and the port, different geographies and time travels, suggest ways of looking and thinking through the past and present, and how the colony and metropole have influenced each other.