20 Jul New Exhibition: I Love Banda by Isabelle Boon

CTC’s Center for Marine Conservation is proud to present “I Love Banda,” a mini layered photography and multimedia exhibition showcasing historical and contemporary stories from the Banda Islands in Maluku. 

“I Love Banda” is documentary photographer Isabelle Boon’s photo series about how Banda’s Dutch-Indonesian heritage influences modern culture and the archipelago’s future. The exhibition revolves around the lives of six teenage Bandanese and demonstrates what it is like to grow up in an atmosphere with a rich heritage by integrating their perspectives, ambitions, and memories, as well as her own observations. She offers the islands a modern and human face, providing a fresh perspective in Banda’s story. 

The Banda Islands were once one of the few places on earth to grow nutmeg and mace. Traders came from Java, China and Arabia. Then English, Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch mariners fought for control of the trade. In 1602 the Dutch East India Company (VOC) took over and claimed a monopoly which resulted in violence. Locals fled and the VOC brought in workers to the islands who then came to see themselves as Bandanese. 

Intrigued by a conversation she had in 2015 with CTC Executive Director Rili Djohani, Ms. Boon became interested by the Banda Islands’ rich history and its natural beauty. She first visited Banda in 2016 and continued to visit the islands until 2019. During her multiple visits, she met Karis, Mega Vani, Nabila, Nyellow, and Ode, who are all between the ages of 20 and 27. The young people told her about their daily lives on the islands, as well as their goals and dreams, and they let her follow them around and photograph them. 

“In 2016 I visited the Banda Islands for the first time and got the idea for the project. In the following three years I immersed myself into Banda’s history, I gave photography workshops to Bandanese children and young adults, built a local network, and got to know and love the six main characters of ‘I Love Banda,’ Ms. Boon said. 

Her project ‘I Love Banda’ shows us what it’s like to grow up on these remote islands and to what extent history influences the identity of the new generation. We experience the Banda Islands as they are today via these individuals’ realities, desires, and goals.  “In the landscape – fortresses, churches, cannons – but also in culture and language. I wanted to portray the young people of Banda. What is it like for them to live on this historical site? And how do they see their future?” she noted. 

Ms. Boon says she was inspired by the forward-looking outlook of her subjects that transcends the islands’ violent history. “I think the present is much more important than the past,” said Ms. Boon. “We all can learn from the past and move on.”

“I Love Banda” was first exhibited in 2021 at the National Maritime Museum in Amsterdam and at the Erasmus Huis in Jakarta in 2022. Ms. Boon also has published a book of the same name can be found via this link: https://www.isabelleboon.com/en/product/i-love-banda/

Photos: Isabelle Boon

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