maandag 25 februari 2008

Jean Demmeni Trough the eyes of the Past Dutch East Indies Photography

Through the eyes of the Past

Opening exhibition by Mr. Goenawan Mohamad, senior journalist

Erasmus Huis
Jl. H.R. Rasuna Said Kav. S - 3
Kuningan, Jakarta 12950
T 524-1069

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.
See also Kleynenberg Schoolplaten photography of the Dutch East & West Indies :

Thousands of pupils in Dutch secondary schools have seen educational prints from the series Platen van Nederlandsch Oost- en West Indië, published by Kleynenberg & Co. in Haarlem between 1911 and 1913. The series consists of 171 large wall hung pictures, beautifully printed from black and white photographs. They hung in classrooms until the 1940s. A number of the photographs were made by photographer Jean Demmeni.Jean Demmeni was born at Padang-Panjang in West Sumatra, son of a French father and Indo-European mother. His father served in the Dutch East Indian army. He fought in the 18705 in Aceh, rising to the rank of Major-General. Following his father's footsteps, Jean Demmeni also entered the army in the East Indies. He was assigned to the Topographic Service in Bandung. In addition to his talents as a marksman and a surveyor, he was also a photographer.

Indonesia: Images from the past.
DEMMENI, JEAN (photogr.), HAKS, LEO & ZACH, PAUL (text),
Published by Singapore, Times Editions, 1987., 1987
Oblong 4to. 120 pp. With b/w photogr. plates throughout. Index. Hardcover. Or.boards/dustj.

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