Whilst living in Hong Kong, (2016 - 2020 ) Sharyn found herself in a deeper discourse about cultural identity and the effects of Colonialism. Her point of departure for this series is an experience she had growing up with her Dutch father in Australia. During their weekend breakfast routine, her father invented a game for his children. The game involved a small wooden coffee grinder.
“I didn't think about it back then, it was only a game, but my father was very clever in getting someone else to grind his morning coffee.”
In this latest series of work Wortman has taken vintage coffee grinders and re-contextualized them. These readymade sculptures relate to a specific period in Indonesia when the Dutch East India Company introduced a cultivation program, Cultuurestelsel (1830-1870). During this time indigenous farmers were forced to grow cash crops such as coffee instead of rice. This system was open to abuse and eventually lead to widespread food shortages and famine.
Each sculptural installation is activated through the viewers’ involvement. As a handle is turned in Kopje Koffie (2019), rice is ground instead of coffee. In her piece titled Cultuurestelsel (2019), Indonesian, Ikat style figures disintegrate before our eyes. As the handle is turned with Vervelend Slecht (2019) a female voice swears at us in ‘Indonesian’ Dutch when a certain speed is reached. By making the audience complicit in the activation of her artwork Wortman hopes to engage the audience in a dialogue regarding the social issues that arise from these hegemonic episodes in history and question how it echoes through to our lives today.

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