Opening exhibition by Mr. Goenawan Mohamad, senior journalist
Jl. H.R. Rasuna Said Kav. S - 3
Kuningan, Jakarta 12950
Re-examining documentary photographs
The exhibition is all about documentary photos from the past, photos from the time of the Dutch East Indies. These photos were made around 1913 as information material for Dutch class rooms about far away Indonesian archipelago. They cover religion, the populatio n, housing, land, cattle, fishery, hunting, trade (industry), handicrafts and culture.
The photos are ascribed to Jean Demmeni (1866-1939) . They not only serve as interesting data. The photos are special because of the perceptiveness and diligence of the photographer. When seeing them people often wonder what happened afterwards to the place or object that was once captured.
The usefulness of old documentary photos is beyond question. Photos that were made during colonial and post colonial times, like many other things, are very useful for future purposes.
When seeing the photos now, however, we have to realize that the images and messages were made by and for a system that is quite different from nowadays. How should we see these pictures that were made for purposes that are no longer relevant? What role can these old pictures play in a new context?Should these photos only be seen as artifacts or just data?
Everyone is invited to see this important and interesting exhibition to learn more about Indonesia in the past.