Here is my small interpretation of how it feels to be Chinese Indonesian. The backdrop is a list of 16 laws that were enacted that directly or indirectly discriminated against Indonesian residents with Chinese ancestry. There were 45 laws made during Suharto’s regime (1966-1998). About 62 laws total were made since the colonial times. Many of these laws and regulations were rescinded in 2012 during Abdurrahman Wahid’s presidency, and I have the impression that things have vastly improved for the Chinese Indonesians.
I have dedicated these dioramas for my parents because I wanted to acknowledge their sacrifice, pain, survival and all the while enduring the hardship with dignity and tenacity. The two pieces of fabrics represent Indonesia and China, the two identities that I feel we are caught in. Nevermind the American part of it. We were all born in Indonesia and since we do not know Chinese language (the government closed down the Chinese schools and forbade the Chinese language from being written/read/learned and spoken in 1966). Because the indigenous Indonesians also made it clear through the laws enacted that Chinese descendants are to be treated differently, then of course, we do not feel accepted by indigenous Indonesians as well. Things have changed drastically, but our family emigrated out of Indonesia in 1983, so we have not seen or felt the change.