Tell Me Where You Are Really From opens May 10th in our showroom from 18.00 till 21.00.

“You’re not Dutch, so what on earth are you doing in Holland?”

In 2018 I went to buy a litter box from Marktplaats for my cat Fish. She was so tiny that she would fit in my hand, her meow was hoarse and her eyes were big; so big that they covered her whole head – like a fish.

The owners of Fish’s mother wanted to get rid of the litter as quickly as possible. Fish came to me and my sister at six weeks, although kittens aren’t supposed to be separated from their mothers until eight weeks. There was insecurity in her movements, through her fragile sounding, yet demanding meow, she would claim all the space she could get.

I found the litter box online the same day my sister and I agreed to take Fish into our home. Ten euros, a good deal for a box made to shit in. The seller from the ad was talking about needing money for a new denture, that’s why she was selling online. Just an ordinary woman, had two cats, a dog and zero teeth.

We arrived at the house of the seller, an old building in Rotterdam Charlois. I rang the bell next to the green, wooden door. It had a small window with smoked glass – the orange light coming through the little window resembled the light that the sunset would give off at the time that me and my friends were waiting in front of the door.

The south of Rotterdam reminds me of home. The industrial, cold buildings set in between warm, vibrant people. Where I come from the aftermath of communism and war are experienced through the surroundings; iron fences border parks and sidewalks; windows are closed off like jail bars; bullet holes gracing apartment buildings like ornaments. Buildings
that could have served as a home to me and my family, but we escaped. These houses and homes were the main target – places that are supposed to shelter and keep safe.

There is a stern presence, like the patriarch of the family. You’re always reminded to be

We were standing there for a while. The struggle was apparent through the dull and slow thumping of the steps, the creaking of the wood and the sounds of somebody mumbling. When finally the door opened and there she was. A small, white woman; dressed in a skirt, support stockings, a stained t-shirt and a stench resembling the smell of a petting zoo coming from behind her. She was old, but not that old.

I smiled and said, “Hi! From Marktplaats, we’re here to buy the litter box.”

She stared at us, I felt her eyes burn through me. We were three girls, with the orange glow of the sunset on our skin. Up until that moment the sound of laughter accompanied us. But at this moment we were silent, looking back at this woman. She was smacking her gums, right before she opened her mouth and said,

“You’re not Dutch, so what on earth are you doing in Holland?”

“Tell Me Where You Are Really From” is an exhibition about immigration, belonging, struggle, alienation, home and house. MaMA will serve as the temporary home where these stories come together and offers the possibility to explore them. “Tell Me Where You Are Really From” belongs to those who lived these stories and to those who wish to learn.

Lili Ullrich graduated from Willem de Kooning Akademie in Fine Art and the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Frankfurt in Acting. Lili has been a recipient of the CBK Research & Development grant for her research “mimesis and the poetic body”, where she looks into the connection between the subconscious and the knowing body. Her work has been shown at Het Nieuwe Instituut, WORM, screen_ and the Growing Space amongst others. She is an alumni of the Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes and part of the collective wet dreamzZz.

As a multifaceted human being, I utilize various mediums such as dance, performing arts, visual arts, digital arts, and music to create aesthetically pleasing works that reflect my inner world. Drawing inspiration from life’s experiences, I observe and constantly learn from situations, people, and nature, channeling these encounters into my creations.

Ivana Barišić, born in 1991 in Bosnia and Herzegovina, graduated as a visual anthropologist from Leiden University. Her graduation film Framing Home (2016) was screened at the Sarajevo Film Festival. With her second film Ajvar (2018) she was part of the collaborative web-series Grandmas Project.

Last year Ivana was one of the selected filmmakers in the talent program Generation Inclusion, part of Rose Stories. During this time she worked towards her dream of transitioning from documentary to fiction. In her work Ivana explores themes such as migration, displacement, memory and cultural heritage. Currently she is working on her first short fiction film, titled The Factory.

Damaris is a theatrical vocalist who performs written and/or instant poetry. 

Like a freestyler, she follows the stream of her mind.

Like a poet, her words lead her to genuine concepts.

Like an actress, she is completely immersed in the present moment

…and like a vocalist, her voice explores the depth of her emotions.

Photograph – Weia Tan

Collage – Falkona Rexhepi en MaMA


Website by HOAX Amsterdam