Memory Lane

by Kurnia Ngayuga Wibowo

Six hundred years have passed since Admiral Cheng Ho from the Ming Dynasty arrived in Cirebon for diplomatic purposes. The long period between his arrival and today presents challenges in delving deeper into this story and history. Due to the few traces left of his presence, the limited literacy available, and the flourishing of his grand narrative in other cities, his memory in Cirebon has diminished.
The neglect of his figure in Cirebon presents a concern and irony, alienating him from today’s society. Considering Cheng Ho was not just a prominent figure but also a marker of an era. At that time, Cirebon was a major port city where many significant events took place, including the spread of Islam in Java through Sultan Hassanudin and Sheikh Datuk Kahfi.
With this in mind, I attempt to create a fictional narrative to reintroduce him and invite Cheng Ho back to witness the city’s current condition. I imagine Cheng Ho using my body as a medium to connect with the present world. This work uses a self-portrait approach and mixed media to intervene in reality, represent his identity, and visualize the narrative being constructed.