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Boedi Widjaja Book of Genealogy 2021 Installation view at FACT Liverpool WEB RES Rob Battersby 14

Book of genealogy (2021)

Responding to his family’s multiple migrations during his early life, Boedi Widjaja’s work considers the limitations of language, and the arbitrary nature of its formation. With reference to his own struggle with slippages between languages, the artist has created his own visual writing system using his genetic code, combining it with ancient texts and cultural almanacs: an experimental strategy for new forms of expression.

Epigenetics is the study of how events and environments can change the way genes work. Widjaja questions whether we can potentially inherit ancestral memories - images and sounds - through epigenetic transmissions, and therefore hold the possibility of changing our futures through art-making.

As part of this multi-site installation, Widjaja explores this concept using multiple audio and visual source materials. A sculptural lightbox displays photographs taken during his first visit to his ancestral hometown, alongside 20 encoded Chinese characters depicting the generational names recorded in his family’s book of genealogy.

Book of genealogy is co-commissioned and produced by FACT, Liverpool with the support of public funds from Arts Council England, Liverpool City Council, and the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme project Artsformation.