Approaching Absenteeism

On July 11th at Amsterdam’s Tropenmuseum, formerly the trade museum of the Dutch East Indies, I participated in a fantastic research project meeting, commissioned by the Tropenmuseum, ‘Approaching Absenteeism’. Curated by ‘Landings’ group (Natasha Ginwala and Vivian Ziherl), featuring key members of the Tropenmuseum curatorial team, and special guest Jill Casid, author of ‘Sowing Empire’ (Minnesota Press) who presented an evening Public Lecture, this was the first of a series of research projects re-examining the Photography Collection of the Tropenmuseum, finding new points of approach into its archive of over 340,000 thousand images spanning the 19th and 20th centuries. The two part project seeks to study the category of absence within Dutch colonial photography with particular reference to colonial administration, agrarian and extractive-industries, land-formation and figural image-production through albums, promotional depictions of colonial life and amateur photography.

‘Approaching Absenteeism’ was curated in the frame of ‘Landings’, an ongoing research project at the intersection of Land History, Geomorphology, Rurality and Corporeality, led by Natasha Ginwala and Vivian Ziherl. The episode at Tropenmuseum is held in collaboration with curator Contemporary Art Anke Bangma, curator Photography Collection Anouk Mansfield and Director of Exhibitions Wayne Modest, and with the support of Marja van der Loo.


Photographer unknown, 1933 
 13 x 18cm (5 1/8 x 7 1/16in.)
Nekoe plants (Lonchocarpus spec) a vine used in fishing to stun and kill fish.
From the Culture Garden in Paramaribo, found as a young plant in 1922 from the primeval forest.