What makes an object a memento? Mementoes are inextricably associated with ‘heroes’. The memento functions, in that sense, as a relic; it brings those who believe in it closer to the saint or the ‘hero’.
The exhibition DNA of the Netherlands (14 October 2017 – 18 February 2018, Museum Prinsenhof Delft) was not about religious relics; it was about special objects that once belonged to leading figures in the history of the Netherlands. They were often politicians, military leaders or, in some exceptional cases, clergy. Their admirers cherished objects for daily use, clothing and even locks of hair or fragments of bones to keep the memories alive.
The museum asked several well-known Dutch persons to reflect upon a specific object in the exhibition. For ten years, writer Arthur Japin worked on his debut novel The two hearts of Kwasi Boachi (1997). In Delft, the writer unexpectedly gets hold of a beer mug that belonged to the main character of his novel, Kwasi Boakye. How does Arthur Japin respond?