Garden of the East : Photography in Indonesia 1850s-1940s
Garden of the East opens the door to a time of change in Indonesia in the century before independence from Dutch colonial interests. It takes the journey from the beginnings of photography in the region in the 1850s, which were driven by colonial interests, to the rise of the self-made Indonesian man and the upheaval before liberation in 1945, painting a portrait of the former Dutch East Indies and its eventual end.
The portrait is one of immense beauty and mixed sentiment, showing the splendour of the county’s islands and people, its landscapes and rich ancient histories, burgeoning tourism and industry, and the changing relationships between the indigenous peoples and the colonial machine.
The period is captured in the work of the earliest photographers travelling from Europe to the ascent of the region’s own photographers, including those indigenous to Indonesia, and the growth of international interests in Indonesia as a destination, as an Eden of sorts, as the Garden of the East.