17.12.2009 Rudi Struik - Does it Change you?

Looking out of the window on an early morning in spring, I noticed a V-shape approaching. It was a skein of geese migrating northwards. I thought how fortunate they were, no boundaries or passports to worry about, simply free to fly to another part of the world to eat, reproduce, and then, when that is accomplished and the season draws to its end, just move on to where there is food.

Once, when we had no borders and could roam the earth freely to seek out our own space the same could! have been said about us. We were nomads then, roaming, settling or moving on as fancy or necessity urged us; identity was associated with the group of which one was part. As time went by, we started staking our claims, erecting imaginary fences around us in the shape of national borders, thereby creating nation-states, requiring new identities ruled by regulations. Those who come in (immigrants) have to play by the rules. Even so, too large a group of immigrants might endanger deeply rooted notions of national identity and kindle the fear of losing it.

As I have been an immigrant myself, I recognize what migrants have had to endure and are still enduring. We emigrated from Holland to Canada after the Second World War because at that juncture in time there was no housing, no employment, and no prospects at home. My mother read in the newspaper that Canada was seeking skilled labourers and that it was possible to apply for a grant, and so she did. With the acceptance of the application, an immense story began. This applies to all who have experienced this.

My aim is to express these ideas and feelings in an art exhibition. The leading question of the exhibition is ‘What is it like to emigrate?’ / ‘What is it like to be an immigrant?’

Does it change you?
Is it different for every individual?
What is it like to be in another culture?
Is it different for every individual?
Does the culture in which you were born, stay with you?
Does the place where you were born remain with you all of your life?
What happens when you come back?
What is it like to be in your own environment after many years of living abroad?