A person with outstretched arms

Sara Sejin Chang (Sara van der Heide), Four Months, Four Million Light Years. Film still, 2020

Sara Sejin Chang (Sara van der Heide)

Four Months, Four Million Light Years

12.11 2022 – 27.8 2023

Stockholm

Opens in 39 days

“Four Months, Four Million Light Years” is a shamanic healing journey through space and time. This immersive film installation addresses the colonial narratives behind transnational and transracial adoption, specifically the historical relations between The Netherlands and Korea.
a ship
Sara Sejin Chang (Sara van der Heide), Four Months, Four Million Light Years. Film still, 2020

The colonial print “Een Schaman ofte Duyvel-Priester in’t Tungoesen lant” (A shaman or Devil Priest from the land of the Tungus tribes, 1692) by Dutchman Nicolaes Witsen acts as a pivotal point for a spiritual journey through time. This print is the first Western depiction of a shaman. It marks the beginning of a long history of racialised and infantilising descriptions of Asian people by white Europeans and the violent eradiation of shamanistic cultures by missionaries.

The exhibition time-travels from contemporary Dutch society and the participation of 3,418 Dutch soldiers in the deadly Korean War (1950–1953) to early Dutch colonial descriptions of Asian people. In the Netherlands alone around 40,000 people have been adopted from the Global South, often through child trafficking and with falsified documents.

 A painting in red and yellow with a small child-like figure in the middle
Sara Sejin Chang (Sara van der Heide), Four Months, Four Million Light Years. Film still, 2020

The “four months” of the title refer to a law that required a minimum stay of four months in a Korean orphanage in order to become adoptable by law for the lucrative transracial adoption industry. This industry started to flourish after the Korean War and continues to live off the same colonial imagery from 300 years ago.

Textile, paper text banners, and drawings surround a video projection. Shamanic poems, songs and visions invoke the ancestors for support. The work is an homage to those who have been cut off from their mothers, fathers, family, ancestors, land, culture, and spirits

Sweden has one of the highest rates of transnational adoptions in the world, especially from Korea. Following the decision of the Dutch government to end transnational adoptions on February 8, 2021, the Swedish government announced it would investigate malpractice in adoption between the 1960s and 1990s.

a whale
Sara Sejin Chang (Sara van der Heide), Four Months, Four Million Light Years. Film still, 2020
painting
Sara Sejin Chang (Sara van der Heide), Four Months, Four Million Light Years. Film still, 2020

Credits

Artist, director, watercolours, camera, editing, text, drumming, voice over, sound: Sara Sejin Chang (Sara van der Heide)
Composing songs, singing: Yan Vandenbroucke
Korean percussion: Leslie Maes
Korean chanting: Jungrak Choi
Sound: Céline Gillain
Costumes: Lila John
Color grading: Paul Millot
Clinical psychologist: Miranda Ntirandekura Aerts
Special thanks to the Darghad shamans: Aminaa, Kyugagaa, Eden-Ochi, Umbaan, Saintsetseg and Korean mudang Jen Bosalnim.
Supported by: The Mondriaan Fund, GRIMONSTER residence, Korean Cultural Center of Brussels, Embassy of the Netherlands.
Coproduction: Kunstenfestivaldesarts, 11th Berlin Biennale.

Installation by Sara Sejin Chang (Sara van der Heide)
Sara Sejin Chang (Sara van der Heide), Four Months, Four Million Light Years (Installlation view) 11th Berlin Biennale, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, 2020. Courtesy Sara Sejin Chang (Sara van der Heide); photograph: Silke Briel