Stockholm ,Sweden 2017
The Immigrant project was part of the Inhabitant Zero residency program with Kalejdohill in Jarfalla, Stockholm, spanning a period of five weeks. The central focus of this project was my personal experience as an immigrant and the process of integrating myself into Swedish society. Coming from a bustling city like Bandung in West Java, with a population of four million people, the transition to Stockholm offered an intriguing and unique experience.
During the residency, I conducted extensive research on Jarfalla and actively sought to connect with the local community. This involved making friends, hosting an open house, and collaborating with the Indonesian embassy to exhibit a collection of Indonesian artifacts within the house.Living in the house located in the middle of a park in Jarfalla, I began to immerse myself in the surroundings. The stark contrast between the silence and emptiness I encountered in Stockholm, compared to the vibrant energy of Bandung, initially struck me. The profound silence affected me in ways I had not experienced before, even waking me up in the middle of the night. This heightened sensitivity to sound and silence provided a valuable and enlightening experience.
To establish connections within the community, I introduced myself directly to a group of people who frequently gathered at the park near my house. I discovered that they were immigrants from Ethiopia, Chile, and the Middle East. They mentioned that many locals, especially Swedes, were hesitant to pass through the park when they were present. However, they expressed joy and appreciation when I reached out and introduced myself to them. This group of people became my first friends in Stockholm.
As part of my project, I used food as a means to create a common ground for people to meet and interact. I organized an open house where I invited people to join me for free meals over several consecutive days. Interestingly, the concept of free food generated some skepticism among the attendees, as they assumed that it might not be of good quality. To challenge this perception, I adopted a different approach and served the people like in a restaurant, providing explanations about the Indonesian dishes and creating a safe space for conversations and interactions. Some individuals remained unsure, questioning whether there were hidden expectations or a catch behind the free offerings. This highlighted the self-sufficient nature of Swedish society, where people are accustomed to paying for what they receive. Nonetheless, through these interactions and discussions, the process of integration began to take shape.
During one visit to the park, I invited my new friends to have coffee inside the house. They had known the house for years, referring to it as the "Witch House" during their childhood due to its emptiness and perceived scariness. Prior to my invitation, they had planned to break into the house out of curiosity. When they finally entered the house with me, they expressed genuine happiness. They shared their dreams for the area and the significance of various places and objects within the community. This information proved valuable for the local government in their development plans, aligning with one of the goals of the residency program.
Collaborating with the Indonesian embassy, I incorporated an exhibition of Indonesian objects during the open house. This allowed visitors to not only savor Indonesian cuisine but also experience a glimpse of Indonesian culture. The Indonesian Ambassador for Sweden attended the open house and even played Indonesian music for the attendees.
These projects provided me with valuable experiences and demonstrated the importance of openness in fostering integration. The success of my project led to its inclusion in a local school's first-day program, facilitating interaction between teachers and parents, many of whom were immigrants. I am delighted with the positive outcomes of this project, which proved beneficial for the inviting organization and the community in Jarfalla.