Photo: DutchCulture

Introducing Indonesia Now: Jakarta edition

In fall 2019, DutchCulture and partners are running the programme Indonesia Now: Jakarta edition with events in both Jakarta and Amsterdam.
9 September 2019
A city of many stories

Jakarta is a booming cosmopolitan city, the capital of one of the largest and most populous countries in the world. With ten million inhabitants, and even thirty million in the metropolitan region, it is a city with many stories. In the early seventeenth century, the Dutch lead by Jan Pieterszoon Coen sought to establish their new position in the highly lucrative spice trade in the archipelago, later Indonesia. This year it is exactly 400 years ago they conquered the village of Jayakarta on the north coast of the island of Java, and built a small outpost on the banks of the river Ciliwung. They named the outpost Batavia. Over the following centuries, Batavia would grow out to become the capital of the Dutch East Indies, and later the capital of the independent Republic of Indonesia, Jakarta. 

A true melting pot

Jakarta’s society is a true melting pot. Generations of people have settled and lived in Jakarta, from all corners of the archipelago, and from all over the world. Some were forced during the Dutch colonial period, as enslaved exiles, while others came to try their luck and built a new life. All of these people left their mark on Jakarta, mostly modest or virtually invisible, but very obvious by a handful of others. Many Dutch and Indonesian people have their roots in Jakarta. Some of their stories will be unravelled during the programme Indonesia Now: Jakarta edition in a series of events held in Jakarta and in Amsterdam. Central focus of this programme is not just the shared history of Indonesia and the Netherlands, but also the current and future relationship between both countries. The programme consists of three events: the exhibition Segar Bugar, the project My story, shared history and the conference Indonesia Now 2019.

Kota Tua, Jakarta's historical inner city and former Batavia, March 2018. Photo: Remco Vermeulen
1. Segar Bugar: the story of conservation in Jakarta 1920-present

In the past century, Jakarta’s heritage conservation has been shaped by regime changes, entrepreneurial spirit and public opinion. The exhibition Segar Bugar: the story of conservation in Jakarta 1920-present seeks to re-examine and display the historical traces of the conservation discourse in Jakarta. How do young people in particular contribute to keeping the city’s history and heritage fit and healthy (segar bugar)? The exhibition and additional programming are created and curated by Pusat Dokumentasi Arsitektur (PDA, the Centre for Architectural Documentation) and artist collective Ruangrupa, and is held from 16 October to 15 November in Jakarta.   

2. My story, shared history

Within a period of a few decades, Jakarta consecutively was the capital of a Dutch colony as Batavia, conquered by the Japanese forces during the Second World War, stage to the Indonesian struggle for independence and capital of the new Republic of Indonesia. The many personal stories of the people who lived in or at least knew the city in this period, whether of Dutch or Indonesian descent, shine a more nuanced light on the national narratives as told by both countries. In the co-creation project My story, shared history, which is part of the annual Literature and Ideas Festival (LIFEs) organised by cultural centre Komunitas Salihara, six young Dutch artists of Indo-Dutch descent team up with six young Indonesian artists to dive into their personal histories. LIFEs is held from 12 to 20 October in Jakarta at Komunitas Salihara.    

Dutch and Indonesian artists during their visit to Jakarta for the project My Story Shared History, July 2019.
3. Indonesia Now 2019 conference

The third, and now extended, edition of the event Indonesia Now 2019 is organised by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and DutchCulture. This sequel to previous successful Indonesia Now events in 2015 and 2017 will focus on future-oriented cooperation between Indonesia and the Netherlands. The event goes beyond reflecting on the close ties and existing examples of cooperation between the two countries. Jointly, Dutch and Indonesian academics, civil society actors, policy makers, companies and artists from cultural, educational, political and economic backgrounds will explore possible roads for cooperation between both countries in the years to come. Indonesia Now 2019 is held on Tuesday 12 November at De Brakke Grond in Amsterdam. 

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