Rozana Lee: Sekali pendatang, tetap pendatang

This exhibition by Auckland-based artist Rozana Lee is titled after an Indonesian saying, which means ‘once an immigrant, always an immigrant’. Lee’s project draws from personal histories to consider the journeys and status of migrant communities in society globally, and particularly in relation to her own Chinese-Indonesian heritage.

Weaving together a range of visual and material languages, including batik textiles, rubbings, videos and archival material, Lee reflects on family history, the translation and adaptation of traditions, trade, colonisation, and the construction of national identity. This combination of video documentation and material traces links us to sites of loss and memory, creating connections to key events, including the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. These legacies connect us to our past and provide a path to the future.

Sekali pendatang, tetap pendatang asks whether ‘unity’ or ‘togetherness’ is possible in culturally, religiously, racially, and linguistically diverse communities. And whether interconnectedness or whanaungatanga and ‘belonging’ is possible without geographical or national attachments. Most importantly, it is about collective memory, intergenerational trauma, love and loss.

Rozana Lee (b. 1970) was born in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Growing up, her childhood was filled with racial and religious tensions. She left Indonesia during the 1998 anti-Chinese violence and political unrest, and immigrated to Singapore, where she lived for eleven years. In 2010, she moved to Aotearoa New Zealand with her family after spending a year in Suzhou, China. She is currently based in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland and holds a Master of Fine Arts from Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland (2018).

Lee has undertaken artist residencies at Instinc, Singapore in 2016, and Making Space, Guangzhou in 2019. Recent projects and exhibitions include Several degrees of attention, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, Ngāmotu New Plymouth, 2022; Crossings, Adam Art Gallery Te Pātaka Toi, Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington, 2021; Te wheke: pathways across Oceania, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū, 2020; Reconfigure(d), Making Space, Guangzhou, 2019; and Two oceans at once, St Paul St Gallery, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, 2019.

This exhibition is kindly supported by the Chartwell Trust.

Image: Cages of memories: Mega Mendung, 2022 (detail)

18 March - 30 July 2023

Chartwell Trust

Photos by Sam Hartnett



Artist website

Download exhibition publication (7.4mb)

Download A.R.T Kemasang (1982), The 1740 massacre of Chinese in Java: Curtain raiser for the Dutch plantation economy, Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars, 14:1, 61-71, DOI: 10.1080/14672715.1982.10412638 (2mb)

Jess Melvin (2013), Why Not Genocide? Anti-Chinese Violence in Aceh, 1965– 1966, in: Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, 32, 3, 63–91. ISSN: 1868-4882 (online), ISSN: 1868-1034 (print)

Jess Melvin (2017), Mechanics of Mass Murder: A Case for Understanding the Indonesian Killings as Genocide, Journal of Genocide Research, 19:4, 487-511, DOI: 10.1080/14623528.2017.1393942

Martijn Eickhoff, Donny Danardono, Tjahjono Rahardjo & Hotmauli Sidabalok (2017), The Memory Landscapes of “1965” in Semarang, Journal of Genocide Research, 19:4, 530-550, DOI: 10.1080/14623528.2017.1393945

Geoffrey Robinson (2017), Down to the Very Roots”: The Indonesian Army’s Role in the Mass Killings of 1965–66, Journal of Genocide Research, 19:4, 465-486, DOI: 10.1080/14623528.2017.1393935

Eunike Mutiara Himawan, Annie Pohlman, and Winnifred Louis (2022), Revisiting the May 1998 Riots in Indonesia: Civilians and Their Untold Memories, in Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, Vol 41(2) 240-257. DOI:10.1177/18681034221084320