Cara Louwman Photography

COMING SOON: the book ROOTING - Becoming Roots

Cara and Yuen Yee - two-sisters-in-law - embarked on a journey to investigate their relationship with their ancestors and how to bring their family histories into their own lives.

Cara's personal research was sparked by the heirlooms in her Dutch family - more specifically, an album containing photos of her great great-grandparents' house in Rotterdam and the Japanese prints on her mother's wall. What did they mean for her ancestors? What do they mean for her now? Working with these and other artefacts resulted in 'playing with her ancestors', a way to connect with the people who are no longer here.

For Yuen Yee the question was how to connect to both her Hong Kong-Chinese roots and her Dutch adopted roots without denying either. Because Yuen Yee did not have any heirlooms to work with, her research took her along oral family histories and family and public documents.

Despite the obvious differences between their histories Cara and Yuen Yee were able to discern general patterns. Neither of the families had a point of origin and neither of the families belonged to one specific place. Both families had been moving from one place to another, either within or across borders, according to their needs and the modes of transportation accessible to them. Whether driven by a sense of exploration and commerce, in search of better conditions for their families, fleeing for their lives or away from destitution. The concept of roots became more and more free from location and time.

We are made of the talents, failures, sorrows, fears and passions of our ancestors. And it is through these lived experiences that they are present in us.

Cara and Yuen Yee are also family. This book is therefore not about two separate processes of rooting and becoming roots. They discovered that both families are unified and characterized by a love for education, storytelling, art, a desire to contribute to society and the decisive role of Japan in changing the course of their family history.

That is why, next to their own way of bringing their roots to the lived present, they also interpreted each other's work: Cara by photographing Yuen Yee's family photographs, and Yuen Yee by interpreting Cara's work through words. Through their bond, they give rise to the merging of families, an inoculation of roots, fortifying them. Doing so they recognized how they embody their ancestors, forging a living connection with the people who came before them. Rootedness is not confined to time, space, culture, families or clans. It has no boundaries.

The book will be published in 2020. You can pre-order your copy here soon.

Copyright ©  All Rights Reserved by Cara Louwman Photography