Merel Meijer

The Live We Never Knew She Lived

The Life We Never Knew She Lived is a reinterpretation of the book Het Hoge Huis aan de Javazee by historian Joop van den Berg, which narrates the story of my great-great-grandparents.

The original book centres my great-great-grandfather Carel Rudolph von Michalofski, who was a postholder in the Karimunjawa islands of Indonesia during the Dutch colonial era, and represents the story from the dominant white male perspective of Carel. My version of the book presents the perspective of my great-great-grandmother Joanna Theodora van Lieveling, the daughter of an enslaved Timorese woman and a European man, who was adopted by a European family before she married Carel. I employ the techniques of deconstruction and reconstruction in order to change the perspective of the original narrative.

Photo by Roel Backaert