As a Dutch artist who is living in Hong Kong and lived in China, I am an insider and outsider.
I am a mom of two daughters. And whether I like it or not, I am part of the famous – or perhaps infamous – Tiger mom scene.
I read about suicide of young children in Hong Kong, but I also read about the amazing results of the Hong Kong (and Chinese) children compared to children in the rest of the world. Where Northern European children once led the world in academic results, Asia has now taken over.
What is wrong and what is right?
I know what collective helplessness feels like. If you let your child do things differently, there is a risk that they will not be accepted in schools. Schools can choose, and they choose the children with the highest scores. It’s as simple as that. So how can you step out of the system – a structure that is often referred to as a pressure cooker – without hurting your child’s future?
We have an obligation to this generation of schoolchildren to evaluate what is right. Statistics are worrying. Schoolchildren of some primary schools in Hong Kong are given less outdoor time for exercise then prisoners. Fifty per cent of secondary school children show signs of depression.
Will times change? The Chinese government has shared its worries about academic pressure on young children this summer. As a result, in Hangzhou, primary pupils were instructed by the school to stop homework at 9pm. But should a 6 year old do homework until 9pm at all? Shouldn’t they be in bed, or listening to bedtime stories, or sharing their experiences of the day with their parents?
Children are losing their individuality. They become anonymous; the only thing to be seen is their results. They are not going to school to learn; they go to school to pass tests with the highest scores.
My work shares a feeling of collective helplessness, as no child or family can step out on their own. Let’s all think and rethink why we send our children to school; to be ready for the world they live in, or to be accepted to an Ivy league University?
The multimedia creation Time to tame the tigers contains photography, an installation and a video. On some of the photography I manually added teacher stamps – stamps used in class to comment on homework.
Introduction of the Artist
In my home country, Holland, I worked as a news journalist and then later, in my early thirties, I made radio documentaries. I felt totally at home in my life and in my chosen genre. I thrived on telling stories for my work.
Being comfortable is nice, but it didn’t feed my creative inquisitiveness. So I made the unsettling decision to leave Holland. With my family, I travelled widely and challenged myself creatively in unfamiliar surroundings.
From a structured start in Zurich to cultural adventures in Cairo, from the crazy cosmopolitan city of Guangzhou to the wild city of Hong Kong, constant change generated a need to find beauty in chaos.
As I grappled with new ways of living, words could no longer effectively convey my experience. Instead, I turned to photography, as I had done throughout my life: as a student I had won a photography award, sponsored by the Stedelijk Museum and the Parool newspaper, for a picture series about Amsterdam. My latest work is a multimedia piece – combining my experience as documentary radiojournalist with my photography to tell the story: Time to tame the tigers.
November 2018 Shenzen Annual Image festival – Time to tame the tigers – multimedia work created as part of the Magnum multimedia mentorship program.
October 2018 Hong Kong International Photo Festival exhibition Silence of the Sky
September 2018 Fine Art Asia exhibition – Hong Kong
June 2018 Publication in Field & Stations – a magazine about travel & places
May 2018 Finalist Photography discovery prize Affordable Art Fair Hong Kong
May 2018 Groups exhibition Hong Kong ‘ Asia, light, hope and dynamism
April 2018 Exhibtion and artist talk Hong Kong ‘Unleash the passion of Wong Chuk Hang’
March 2018 Start of a 6 month Magnum photography multimedia mentorship
December 2017 South China Morning Post – Photo essay – Barbers in backstreets of HK
November 2017 Solo Exhibition Hong Kong: Glamour in unglamorous places
November 2017 National Geographic traveller publication-Yunnan