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Mijn Stamboom Huilt

In this art installation Yonah de Beer attempts to reconcile with the traumatic experiences he and his family went through. The installation of portraits and the video symbolizes the way traumatic experiences are passed on to the next generation not unlike genes. Trauma can even be said to reside within our genes.

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Before painting these portraits, de Beer sat down with all of his (living) family members to have a conversation about trauma and the traumatic experiences they went through. The stories were then translated into symbolism used for the portraits. Abstract symbolism is closer to de Beer’s artistic forte, but he wanted to challenge himself. De Beer wanted to draw these portraits like a child would do. With no picture as an example, but drawing images that come to the mind. In doing so, de Beer sought out a clash between realism and expressionism. All of the portraits are filled with meaning, real expressions and observations from the conversations he had with his family. 


To accompany these observations, de Beer used the bottom canvas to inscribe his insights into the topic of transgenerational trauma. A translation of the text at the bottom is:


I come from a family tree filled with tears

That damaged the branches underneath

I come from people who have suffered

From parents that have slipped

And from children that ended up doing the same

I come from parents who weren’t there

From people who experience love and despair

I come from the misunderstood hearts of children

Who tried to do right by me

From parents who didn’t always understand their kids

I come from courage that tries to break patterns

Those who start a circle, but not the one that made them shatter

I come from trying and living live

Despite the suffering that life gifted us

I come from you 


Central to the installation is a video that de Beer edited from the video footage of his childhood. During the process of interviewing his family, de Beer felt the need to incorporate the stories and experiences into his own psyche. To make space for everything that he had learned. To do this, he wanted to speak to his inner child. This is a common way of reclaiming the lost connection between a person and the person they were at the moment of a traumatic experience. In writing this letter, de Beer’s art installation became performative. He reconciled with his younger self, to accept his past behavior and to show understanding. This letter is an invitation to other people to do the same. To explain the necessity of denying the taboo of discussing traumatic experiences in the public space. That eventhough these experiences are highly individualistic, they are universal to all. To brighten the connection with ourselves, we must be open to connections to that which is ‘other’ than ourself. 

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