The multimedia exhibition I love Banda and the presentation of a long-lost manuscript, Neirabatij's Hikayat are on show from 24 March until 17 June at the Erasmus Huis in Jakarta, Indonesia.
I love Banda is a joint exhibition by photographer Isabelle Boon and the National Maritime Museum. I love Banda’s Indonesian premiere follows its showing at the National Maritime Museum in 2021. A superb centrepiece of the exhibition is a facsimile of M.S. Neirabatij’s Hikayat: a long-lost manuscript, representing the oldest written record of the oral history of the Banda Islands.
Fort WaerIsabelle Boon
on the exhibition I love Banda
Documentary photographer Isabelle Boon focuses on modern day Banda. In I love Banda she turns the spotlight onto six young islanders with whom she formed a close friendship. Among her themes are scenes from her subjects’ personal life, the typical atmosphere of the island group and the dynamic of life on the island. Looking more closely, past and present appear to interact in the images, telling a richly diverse narrative about culture, identity and religion. We see the Banda Islands as they are today through the reality, dreams and aspirations of Mega Vani, Karis, Ulfa, Ode, Nabila and Nyellow. Delving more deeply into the images, they open a window onto a turbulent history. Accompanying the I love Banda show is an eponymous publication that brings together over four hundred photos.
a long-lost manuscript
While preparing for the I love Banda show in 2021, curators turned their attention to an extraordinary manuscript in the museum's collection: the Hikayat by M.S. Neirabatij. This saga, or history, known as a hikayat, was written in 1922 by Saleh Neirabatij in Malay. Neirabatij was a prominent person on Lontar, part of the Banda island group. The Hikayat is one of the islands’ few historical sources. With its unique perspective on the island group’s maritime history, it appears to be the oldest written account of Banda’s oral history. A facsimile of the manuscript is displayed in the Erasmus House library accompanying the I Love Banda exhibition. A transcript and summary of the manuscript can be found here. Additional facsimiles are being made of the Hikayat, to be shown at other locations in Indonesia in addition to Jakarta’s Erasmus Huis. This will make the document’s contents available to future generations throughout Indonesia.
about the Erasmus Huis
The exhibition is on show at the Erasmus Huis, the Dutch cultural centre in the compound of the Dutch Embassy in the beating heart of Jakarta. Erasmus Huis is a meeting place for all kinds of people, young and old, and is open to everyone. Erasmus Huis is a melting pot where Dutch and Indonesians come together to develop a whole range of cultural connections. Programmes that feature performing arts, exhibitions, literature, creative industries and historical heritage have made Erasmus Huis a venue with a reputation as a vibrant, accessible cultural centre for one and all. During the COVID-19 crisis, new ways were found to enable people throughout Indonesia to participate in events: E-rasmus Huis is available online, hosting dance performances, films and lectures as well as exhibitions via Google Arts en Culture.
on Isabelle Boon
Documentary photographer Isabelle Boon (b. 1972) portrays the positive power and passion of people and their surroundings. Focusing on real, often minor, everyday situations, she tells the bigger story. Respect, care, solidarity and reciprocity are key themes in her work, which is characterised by a deeply personal approach. By watching closely and talking to her subjects, Isabelle Boon gains an insight into the personal story of the individual in her lens. Boon’s style is pure, direct, intuitive and intimate. She tries to make as much use of natural light as possible and looks for spontaneous moments. Her photos – always colour – are never, or rarely edited. Isabelle Boon works in the Netherlands and abroad. A previous project ‘Heritage in Transition’, about the impact of reuse of colonial buildings and infrastructure in the old city centres of Jakarta and Semarang on today’s residents and new users, appeared in Kota Tua (Jakarta), Kota Lama (Semarang), Museum Volkenkunde (Leiden) and Museum Sophiahof (The Hague).
Boon’s I Love Banda project developed from various encounters with young people on the Banda Islands and a realisation that their colonial legacy continues to play a huge role in the islands’ development going forward. Some of the photos that appeared in the National Maritime Museum were previously shown at Hatta-Sjahrir college on Banda Neira.