Neira Island , Banda Archipelago , Indonesia 2019
"Façade" is a captivating photo series that delves into the historical narrative of colonialism in Indonesia, particularly focusing on the Banda Archipelago from the 16th century to the present day. The archipelago, centered around the Banda Islands, served as a crucial hub for international spice trading during this period. Traders from various nations, including China, Arabia, Portugal, England, and the Netherlands, flocked to Banda to procure spices, especially nutmeg.
The exorbitant prices of nutmeg in Europe motivated European traders, particularly the Dutch, to seek a monopoly on the spice market by invading Banda. In 1621, the Dutch eventually occupied the Banda Archipelago, marking the beginning of their colonial rule in Indonesia, which lasted until 1945. Neira Island, the main island in the Banda Archipelago, became the center of Dutch settlement, with meticulously planned cities and numerous buildings constructed by the Dutch.
Today, many of these buildings remain, some well-preserved while others lie in ruins. The existence of these ruins, along with the wealth of unwritten history they represent, offers a glimpse into the complex tapestry of the island. Over time, the local population has grown accustomed to living alongside this unwritten history. By exploring the island and capturing the essence of these ruins, I have sought to document how the locals coexist with this silent testimony of the past.
The juxtaposition of the ruins and the contemporary dwellings built by the locals creates a fascinating amalgamation of historical and present-day information. The locals, lacking easy access to accurate historical accounts, have developed multiple versions of the stories behind these ruins. The true information lies mostly in the Netherlands, and few people have ventured to Banda to shed light on the details. This photo series serves as a starting point for future discussions about the stories contained within these ruins.
Through "Façade," viewers can witness the interplay between the past, present, and future of Banda's history and, by extension, the history of Indonesia. It serves as a visual trigger for engaging in a broader dialogue about the significance and untold tales of these ruins, inviting exploration and a deeper understanding of the island's complex historical heritage.