Heritage in Transition


In Jakarta and Semarang, former colonial buildings are given a new purpose. But what does this mean for the people who live in these buildings?

'Heritage in Transition' shows the repurposing of colonial buildings in the old city centers of Jakarta and Semarang; an old commercial office becomes a gallery, a warehouse becomes a coffee house. But many of these buildings are still inhabited and used. I want to make the people behind the facades more visible. Why do they live here? What do they think of the developments? And where will they actually go next?

I take time to get acquainted with the residents: I involve them in the project, give them prints of their portraits and visit them again on my next trip.

Henk Schulte Nordholt (former head of research at the Royal Institute of Language, Land- and Ethnology and professor at the University of Leiden), Harm Stevens (curator of history at the Rijksmuseum) and Roanne van Voorst (writer and anthropologist) provide me with in-depth information about Indonesia and I share my knowledge and experiences with them.

I self-published the book 'Heritage in Transition'. Here you can view and buy it.

The project led to an exhibition in Jakarta, which I organised with the Dutch embassy, ​​in the old city area itself. Many of those portrayed came to the opening and I handed Mark Rutte, who was on a trade mission, a copy of the book. The exhibition in Semarang was part of the Kota Lama festival.

The story was on display in the Museum of Ethnology and at the Tong Tong Fair. And at the invitation of the Indies Remembrance Center (IHC) I made an exhibition in Museum Sophiahof, which you can also visit online.

With the IHC I developed teaching material for primary school children who visited the exhibition, which you can find here.

For the opening of the exhibition in Museum Sophiahof, Robin Block wrote three pieces of poetry to accompany my photos, have a look and listen.

Several of my photos were published in The Great VOC Book.

Harm Stevens, Rijksmuseum: 'The power of Isabelle Boon's photos lies in the serene, intimate way in which she captures life.'

Roanne van Voorst (antropoloog en schrijver): 'Isabelle really gets to know the people in her photos, and they get to know her: one hundred percent, as she is, sincerely and with a lot to give, so that they also like to give her something back: themself, and their most authentic look.'

The project came about thanks to all the people portrayed in Jakarta and Semarang, 114 crowdfunders, many enthusiastic experts and the support of DutchCulture, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Marinus Plantema Foundation.