Indonesia under Construction

An Encounter

The Netherlands and Indonesia are inextricably connected because of their history. Many Dutch people and Indonesians still have personal memories of the direct links with the colonial society that the Netherlands imposed on Indonesia.
Karel Doing and Lulu Ratna met each other in Jakarta while Doing was carrying out research for his film Een ontdekkingreis naar Tarakan (A journey to Tarakan). Lulu Ratna, who supports independent film in Indonesia with her organization Boemboe, introduced Doing to the relatively new independent group of filmmakers and video artists who are active in Indonesia.

A period of intensive collaboration and exchange of materials and ideas between Lulu Ratna and Karel Doing ensued. In 2003 they organized a film festival in Amsterdam and Rotterdam called “Indonesia Calling!”, with films and videos by independent Indonesian directors.


Karel Doing and Lulu Ratna worked together on a video installation, titled Connections, for Witte de With. Using video fragments and e-mail, they have corresponded about their day-to-day activities and work over recent months. What linked them was their shared interest in movement and traveling by public transport, and the coincidental encounters that take place there. Karel Doing found old footage of the Nederlandse Indische Spoorwegen (Dutch Railways) in Indonesia in the Filmmuseum, and integrated it in the installation. The video installation Connections is about the visible and hidden relations between the two countries, the personal and more universal similarities and differences. Pierre Bastien made the sound installation.

Video library

Besides the installation Connections there is a library of videos in Witte de With, mostly by Indonesian makers, for the public to browse. From his first encounters with Indonesian independent film- and videomakers, Doing was impressed by the high quality of their work, often realized with a minimum of means. Despite the immense social and economic problems that the country has to deal with, the makers strive to create a personal space with their work and to build up a network. Artists? initiatives such as Ruangrupa and more activism-orientated collectives such as Off Stream work alongside each other. Lulu Ratna made a selection of work for the video archive: an initial sketch to chart the diverse methodologies of Indonesian film- and videomakers.

With works by: Ariani Darmawan, Dimas Jayasrana, Forum Lenteng, Lulu Ratna, Wisnumurti, Tintin Wulia, Yufik, Andibachtiar Yusuf, Oliver Zwink.


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