Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Two Images of Jakarta


Within one 24 hour period this week, I came across two lovely but very different images of Jakarta. Together the pair are a wonderful bookend for this supercity.

© Image copyright Noran Bakrie

The Omaga first: from the internet (surprise!), this excellently deep and mysteriously hazy shot by Noran Bakrie, which came to me via yay!everyday. The gothamic effect of the foreground tower set against the farther skyline, the existence of multiple skylines one city center, is something that I am still used to associating solely with American cityscapes, like Manhattan from Brooklyn, but is now far more prevalent in Asia. Even without the context of the link, the image is identifiable as Jakarta with the distinctive Wisma 46 in the far distance.

The second image I found rummaging through the Friday book market in Het Spui here in Amsterdam: a luciously illustrated handbook, Het Voormalige Batavia (The Former Batavia), about the colonial capital of the Dutch East Indies, the cover depicting the stately-looking trading settlement, which is now a tiny corner of the massive Javanese metropolis (see top image, courtesy some company from California).

The Netherlands has a strong and tangible connection to Indonesia still, its common to meet Indonesian people, see Indonesian restaurants, and come across volumes of books on Dutch East India history, so Jakarta sort of looms as an antipodean node in Dutch consciousness, one the periphery of one's awareness in Amsterdam, whose colonial offspring is now this giant country with a humungous capital, which in the tremendous breadth of its megalopolitan region would stretch from one end Holland to the other.

I cannot read Dutch and therefore did in fact purchase the book solely for its delightful cover illustration and map in back.

Images published by Allert de Lange, Amsterdam, 1954.

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