De Facto explores the realm of unrecognized states, fictional countries and curious border zones. On September 22 we had a great evening with talks, art and music at De Roode Bioscoop in Amsterdam.
Former South Asia correspondent Joeri Boom (NOS, NRC, De Groene Amsterdammer) introduced us to the complex conflict in Jammu and Kashmir. In an interview with De Facto’s Jorie Horsthuis, he explained how he first noticed the effects of this dispute in daily life in India, and how many struggles he encountered while writing about it. Once in Kashmir as a reporter, he was shadowed by the secret service and after he returned, he was immediately summoned by the authorities. During the interview, Boom took us with a video clip to the curious Attari-Wagah border, where guards performed an independence day ceremony.
Still, as a correspondent he was able to move beyond the stereotype reporting by the mainstream media and found out that the conflict between India and Pakistan was not only more intense and dangerous than we are usually aware of, but that the new generation is also completely fed up with both sides: they strive for independence.
Staying with the topic of Kashmir, singer-songwriter Dusty Stray (Jonathan Brown) took us on his ride to Kashmir in the nineties, longing for this mysterious land that he first heard of listening to his favourite band Led Zeppelin. Disappointed of not reaching his final destination, he did not realize that he was already there. And if it was not for Kashmir, he would not be in Amsterdam right now. To celebrate this, he sang his own great version of Led Zeppelins ‘Kashmir’ and played a song for us on the bulbul tarang, a traditional instrument from the region.
De Facto’s Floor Koomen shed her light on a great design object: the unification flag of North and South Korea. She explained how it came into being and how it played a huge role in many propaganda outings. It was used by both sides to show that unification indeed was possible - however, with completely different interpretations. Still, the manifestations of this utopia in sports and music are thrilling: with the audience we watched the song ‘Rainbow of Unification’.
Exciting as always, the evening ended with a quiz by the legendary Suzanne Hendriks. Referring to the news, she asked the audience whether Queen Elizabeth had a passport (did she?), who most recently claimed an island (Richard Branson or Uri Geller?). As it was a close battle between several teams, they had to do a shoot out. The winning team went home with Kashmiri peppers.