Filling a set area of the old Tjipta Niaga building in the Old Town of West Jakarta is an exhibition that connects the past with the present with personal portraits. Created by Dutch photographer Geert Snoeijer “The Forsaken Children of the Compagnie” exhibition is attempting to show the lasting effect of the Dutch legacy in Indonesia, Australia and South Africa.
This will be done by focusing on the VOC, which was also known as the Dutch East Indies Company, and those people who are connected to them within their family tree.
Each portrait is of a direct VOC decedent who still remains in the once-Dutch-owned lands and also has a traditional Dutch name that connects them to their Dutch heritage. As time went by, it became easier for some to forget the VOC, even though they were instrumental in all of the Dutch colonialism and therefore an important part of Indonesian history.
Forming the image of the perfect villain, the VOC reigned terror upon the many foreign lands from the 17th and 18th Centuries. Through acts of suppression, violence and even genocide they removed many people from their indigenous lands.
Some of the most infamous of these acts took place in the famous Spice Islands. The Banda Island was enslaved and massacres took place due to the lucrative nutmeg trade that was indigenous to only these islands. However, the Indonesian element of the exhibition will focus on a small group of families who are acknowledged as being of European descent in the east of archipelago.
Based in the island of Kisar near Timor-Leste the images show a lasting connection with the dark history of the area. This is made all the more substantial by the surroundings of the chosen gallery with it white walls and old aesthetics. The exhibition will run until May 14th and is being held simultaneously with other exhibitions in both Australia and South Africa.
For those people seeking something extra, you can get more details in the book Verlander; Forgotten Children of the VOC, which offers additional narratives to the images of the exhibition as well as illuminating historical facts, adventurous stories and authentic interviews.
(Picture credit: Snoeijer)