Toespraak van staatssecretaris Uslu bij opening tentoonstelling 'Revolusi!'

Staatssecretaris Uslu (Cultuur en Media) sprak tijdens de opening van tentoonstelling 'Revolusi!' in het Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, op donderdag 10 februari 2022. Deze toespraak is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar.

Your excellencies, dear people,

We became what we are as a result of what we have experienced, what we have endured and what we have achieved.

This is true of every one of us.

It is also true of today’s inhabitants of our countries, and the generations that came before them.

Whenever I study the course of the relationship between the Netherlands and Indonesia, I never fail to discover new dimensions and different facts. Our shared past continues to have an effect on us, influencing how people see themselves.

Over the centuries, contacts between us have changed, grown and improved. Between all those different people from our countries, new connections have emerged.

In today’s world, there is close cooperation across a whole range of issues. Especially when it comes to education, culture and science.

This exhibition is also an example of the type of cooperation that is only possible if you both do your utmost to nurture and sustain a good relationship.

Several years ago, I described the Netherlands as pluralistic, colourful and multidimensional. As today approached, my mind turned back to those descriptions. The fact that we are living in such a country is partly because of the historical contacts between our countries.

Of course, there are many other possible descriptions than the ones I gave. And I can think of no better environment in which to reflect on all of this than in a museum.

A museum brings together multiple versions of the stories and experiences that people tell themselves and each other. Museums are places where meaning and perspectives are shared. Places that do not shy away from debate. And where differing emotions search to find a place and an audience.

So, you have every opportunity to look back at the past and look forward to the future. This is something you can never do too often.

There is no doubt that when people study our shared history, they will encounter all kinds of different emotions. Discomfort. Disbelief. Or even outrage. But also: curiosity. A feeling of: ‘tell me more, I want to know how this all fits together.’

This is also a reason why it’s a good thing that the museums in our country have reopened. At last. For me too, it took too long.

Museum visitors will once more have an opportunity to discover new perspectives in all those places across the entire country. And especially here, in the Rijksmuseum, at this extraordinary exhibition.

By coming here, you are engaging in contact with the other, with stories and objects, and hopefully also with yourself.

1 person will come here already knowing a lot. Another may be slightly less informed. But whatever the case, neither can fail to be impressed by the personal stories of eyewitnesses and their different perspectives on a period of major and rapid change in Indonesia.

At the same time, the exhibition offers opportunities for the debate about the Netherlands’ past. It is important for this conversation to continue to be conducted and advanced.

Ultimately, we live in a society with many different mindsets, ideas and ideals. A collection of differences, so to speak.

This can sometimes complicate things, leading to heated or emotional discussions. And that’s okay. Sometimes, it is possible to settle a difference – at other times, it can be more difficult.

But, as we move on in life and take new steps forward, we can also try to look back together at the traces that we have left behind. The best thing will be if we can continue to talk about all of this.

In this process, a more and more detailed, multi-voiced picture of history will emerge. This exhibition and the accompanying programme will definitely contribute to that process.

I notice that there is a specific focus in the programme on young people. That’s fantastic. In the years when I myself worked here, we regularly struggled with the challenge of reaching out to young people.But it’s something that matters so much. Because when young generations are able to reach back far into the past, that past lives on and gains new meaning.

By referring to these multiple voices, I’m also thinking of the international movement calling for careful treatment of objects from the past. Across the world, it is important to continue to talk about this and, fortunately, that is also happening.

Between our countries, open dialogue also needs to continue to be pursued. This is how we foster each other’s well-being, understanding and progress. This really matters, because the bond between the Netherlands and Indonesia is something that deserves to be strengthened all the time.

Dear people,

Artists had an important role to play in the revolution in Indonesia.

Because of the pandemic, our countries are now facing a challenge of a quite different order than in those days. But I know that the contribution made by artists to societal change is also essential now. We must never underestimate that.

History proved us that art and its creators give our future shape, content and colour. And, in doing so, they present new ideas to as many people as possible. In the period ahead, this will happen under this very roof.

I hope that the exhibition attracts plenty of visitors and succeeds in opening up eyes and hearts, and… where that’s possible… brings people a step closer to each other.

Ultimately, being pluralistic, colourful and multi-dimensional is something that needs to be continually nurtured and revisited. And this can only be sustained if, every single day, you make an effort to see things from another person's perspective.

Thank you.