Edith Bons (EN)

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Edith Bons:

“The visit in my studio by Fenny Vlietstra and Doric Steevensz, initiators of the Indisch Museum, made me think about where exactly I stand in terms of my Dutch Indonesian (indo) identity.
It was in the early eighties that this subject played a major role in my development as a visual artist, but also as a person.
More than 30 years later, I have built up an extensive oeuvre. This oeuvre will be the red thread to map my development.

Like many Indos, it started with a trip to Indonesia, the motherland (in my case). Although I came from a “typical” Indo environment, in 1982 I was hardly aware that I was an Indo. I did not care about that at all. It was the time when many books appeared from Indo writers of the second generation. After that people in their thirties who were sometimes born in Indonesia, but mostly in the Netherlands, began to write. The Indo Youth day (1984), which was organized in Paradiso, also shook the emotions, both of the first and second generation. Apparently the time was right to write about this subject. This was also stimulated by the arrival of other cultures in the Netherlands that will make this country more diverse and richer. The Indos also wanted to contribute to this. You can not do that if you deny your own culture.

In that period, Dutch-Indonesian and Indonesian subjects were represented in my work:

[Click on a photo to enlarge]


“Verloren Blauw”

“Bung K”

As an art student, but especially afterwards, I was eagerly looking for new iconographies. That exciting first 3-month trip through Indonesia has turned my world upside down. I began to look for a form language that suited me, stripped of Western imagery. I came out with the poleng motif. A motif that I saw in Bali and was processed in sacred canvases. You can see them there as woven cloths and as stamped cloths. The black / white symbolizes the cosmic duality, originating from the Hindu culture.This motive became my statement: “This is me”, balancing in the gray area between white and black. Not fitting in any box. The poleng motif has remained in my entire oeuvre. Sometimes explicit, sometimes subtle


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The use of poleng has undergone a change over time. I broke away from the canvases and looked for other interpretations with a somewhat more Western character. Recently, for example, I use cupids for a series of images. This choice was determined by its universal nature. But especially because the angel has opposite components. Both male and female. This was the reason why I proces the poleng motif onto these cupids.

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“Androgyn 1”

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“Androgyn 2”

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“Androgyn 3”

In the meantime, I immersed myself in Indonesian culture. I only read books by Indonesian writers and poets, immersed myself in the (popular) stories of the country and studied Indonesian history. This rich culture inspired me. New forms presented themselves:

gr 1
“Mojopahit in memoriam”



Especially the myths and sagas had my interest. I preferred Dewi Sri, the rice goddess. That’s why I started using rice as a visual element. It is transparent, can take all kinds of forms, and it has structure. I used this mainly in my installations. The space is the carrier and rises the material with which I  expressed myself. I added other visual aids that reinforce the content.

“Rijstinstallatie Gorkum Museum”

“Rijstinstallatie Yogyakarta PKP

Dewi Sri is also the goddess of fertility. This fact was of great concern to me. I literally connected this fact in my work:

“Telor I en II”

Import export quality 30x40 2008 kopie
“Import-Export Quality”

The use of rice grains (food) as visual material can be controversial. In many countries, rice is sacred and associated with all sorts of rituals. Of course, I respect this. That is why I always make sure that the rice gets a good second destination afterward an exhibituion by giving it to populations that need it.

To illustrate my respectfully dealing with this world food and the love for it I made the video “Shovel-and-petting” which is well reflected in:

Edith Bons – Rijst 1
Edith Bons – Rijst 2

Hands and touch are also present in my work:

1 (9).jpg“Matabia”

“Don’t touch me (detail)”

Dialogue and interaction with the public are important for an artist like me. I became known as an “Indo” artist. Not because I profiled myself exclusively as such, but because I have admitted to investigate this part of myself in my work. That is why I occasionally make trips within my oeuvre, to avoid being categorized. It is also refreshing to be equally detached from what you are doing. It gives new insights and a fresh look.

flowerpower girl kopie“Flower power girl”
“Pink flowers”

“Celebrating my own grave”

Momenteel ben ik bezig om mijn Nederlandse (westerse) kant uit te diepen.
Daarnaast ben ik op zoek naar nieuwe technieken.

I am currently working on a my Dutch (Western) side.
I am also looking for new techniques.

Through my search for identity by means of  visuals from two cultures (the Netherlands and Indonesia) I hope to contribute to this subject. It remains an interaction, a drive between two extremes. The research into identity is a given that belongs to an increasingly globalizing world. It is up to art history to determine which place my work, and that of my (Indo) colleagues who are also involved in this, will get. Time will tell…….

DSC_1085“Identity I”
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“Identity II”

“Voor God en Vaderland”

NOTE: The images and the work of Edith Bons is protected by Pictoright: Pictoright Pictoright

Edith BonsBons has her own website
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