Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Tja Ling Hu, Before I Was Born, Jap Sam Books, Netherlands, 2020

This beautifully drawn accordion is one continuous panorama in which Tja Ling depicts fourteen specific events from across four generations of her family's history from China to the Netherlands, between the years 1934 to 2017. The following is from the cover of the book: 

"Born in the Netherlands but of Chinese descent: growing up with Asian genes and ethics in a Western world, supporting her immigrant parents in their restaurant located in a Dutch village from a young age. On a quest looking for her own identity, visual artist Tja Ling Hu explores the duality of her origins, realising that the contrast between her life and those of her parents could not have been any bigger. Yet their story is also hers, as their migration from China to a faraway country would not only completely change their lives but shape those of their children.

In Before I Was Born, Tja Ling illustrates the story of her family's journey in 14 interconnected pencil drawings. Out of respect and admiration for the way her [grand]-parents built a life for themselves with all the challenges they have had to face, migrating without any formal education or knowledge of the local language."

On the reverse of each drawing is a list of names of the people depicted, along with the different countries they are in. For more information about Hu's work and to purchase this accordion: Tja Ling | Illustrations | Murals | Art | Kunst | Illustratie | Rotterdam

Note: click images for larger size for these subtle drawings.

30 double-sided pages, individually 10" x 6.75" and when unfolded 10ft 10.5"

reverse side with titles

close-up of reverse side

back cover

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