What Hans Aarsman found at the Tropenmuseum
From its extensive collection of historical photographs, the Tropenmuseum presents a selection of images curated by Hans Aarsman, the Dutch Sherlock Holmes of photography. 'Thanks to the Bridges: Discoveries of Hans Aarsman at the Tropenmuseum' will be on show in the Park Hall from 13 July to 11 November 2012.
Originally a photographer, the author Aarsman was invited by the Tropenmuseum to explore its photographic archive, which contains over 500,000 items, the majority of which relates to the former Dutch East Indies. 'The surprising thing about the photo collection was that I encountered so few landscapes. As I searched, I found a lot of plantations, factories, people in houses, in gardens, travelling. I rarely saw jungle. Yet the jungle was obviously there. Presumably the landscape wasn't considered interesting enough to justify a photograph. Only when pictures of bridges were being taken: the bridge had to be in the photo, and both banks. And then something of the landscape would naturally creep into the picture.'
The photos in the exhibition have been enlarged to fill entire walls. ‘They are so large, it’s almost like walking into the landscape,’ Wayne Modest, head of Museum Affairs explains. ‘We invited Hans Aarsman because he often sees things that other people overlook. Actually, he sees more than what is in the photographic frame, he sees things that aren’t really visible but which, given the circumstances, must have been there.’ Aarsman and the Tropenmuseum are both advocates for ‘slow looking’. ‘Taking the time to calmly and closely examine a photo, opens multiple possibilities for interpretation. We invite everyone to come for a session of “slow looking” in the Park Hall.’
The Tropenmuseum will continue to invite guest curators to explore its photographic collections, presenting innovative, critical perspectives to our audiences. These new approaches will enable visitors to look at Dutch (colonial) history from fresh ways.
Hans Aarsman (b. 1951) started his career as a photographer. He is well-known in the Netherlands for his weekly contributions to the newspaper de Volkskrant, and his regular appearances on De Wereld Draait Door, a Dutch current affairs programme. He recently published De Fotodetective, and is currently engaged in a theatre tour featuring his programme De Aarsman Projectie.
In the coming six months, photography will feature prominently in the museum. Following the Dutch Doc Award, where a selection of the best of Dutch documentary photography is displayed, and the launch of Thanks to the Bridges, in September is the opening of In the Land of the Emperor, with photos taken during the coronation of Ethiopia’s Emperor Haile Selassi.
Amsterdam’s Tropenmuseum presents, researches and promotes knowledge about and exchange between cultures. It offers an experience to a wide and varied audience employing every tool available to museums: presentation, collection and expertise, publication, the historical building, educational and other activities. The museum of the Royal Tropical Institute maintains an international programme relating to culture and development.
Tuesday to Sunday and public holidays: 10am - 5pm
Also open public and school holidays (except summer holidays) on Mondays: 10am - 5pm
Tropenmuseum is closed on 25 December, 1 January, 30 April and 5 May. On 24 and 31 December the museum opens until 3pm.
Fotograaf: Claudia Sola
Spoorbrug van de Staatsspoorwegen bij Tjisomang, West-Java
Datering: rond 1931
Afmeting: 6 x 9cm (2 3/8 x 3 9/16in.)
Collectie: Tropenmuseum, Fotobureau, KIT Tropische Producten Afdeling, Machinefabriek Braat, Staatsspoorwegen
Aanleg van een brug over een rivier
Afmeting: 14 x 24,7cm
Collectie: fotocollectie Tropenmuseum (afkomstig uit de collectie van het Indisch Wetenschappelijk Instituut (IWI))
Overdekte houten brug
Afmeting: 26,7 x 35,4cm (10 1/2 x 13 15/16in.)
Collectie: fotocollectie Tropenmuseum
Panoramafoto van Dajak drager
Afmeting: 14,6 x 39,7cm (5 3/4 x 15 5/8in.)
Collectie: fotocollectie Tropenmuseum