Sunday, February 25, 2007


He looked upon me with suspicion. I took the photo anyway, without asking explicitly for permission, but I was on less than two meters distance. And I am not the fastest photographer anyway, so he had ample time to reject. After I had shot the picture he asked me where I am from. (Sometimes I answer this question with Jakarta.) Upon hearing my answer he murmured: “Belanda goreng.” In Indonesian this means fried Dutchman, so that doesn’t seem to make much sense. In Sundanese, though, it means something like bad or evil Dutchman. (But can someone from a North Sumatran hamlet, where this portrait was taken, have knowledge of a language that is spoken in West Java.) Was he referring to past behavior of my fellow Dutchmen? Was he referring to the act of photography as illegitimate appropriation?

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