Exhibiting modernity and indonesian vernacular architecture: Hybrid architecture at pasar gambir of batavia, the 1931 paris international colonial exhibition and taman mini indonesia indah

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The beginning of the twentieth century in the Dutch East Indies or nowadays Indonesia has some characteristics of a development of technology and a consumer society, and an expansion and cultural ascendancy of the middle class that lead to the idea of progress and modernity. This dissertation investigates a series of colonial exhibitions held both in the colony and in the colonizing country that used Indonesia vernacular architecture as their basic idea. Using three exhibitions as platforms–Pasar Gambir of Batavia between the 1920s-1930s, the 1931 International Colonial Exhibition in Paris, and the modern ethnographic park of Taman Mini Indonesia Indah–this dissertation aims to investigate the interconnection among exhibitions, and the construction of culture by the authorities at that time. Underlying ideas of these exhibitions were a way to gain profit and to spread consumerism, a desire to shape public through culture, an intention to express the authorities’ connection to modernity and an effort to show off power. I argue that exhibitions offer an opportunity for their visitors to exercise different cultural and social relations, and to have their own ideas of modernity presented at the exhibitions. Moreover, colonial exhibitions held in the colony had contributed to the creation of localized modernity and space of encounter between the colonizer and the colonized. In each exhibition, hybrid architecture that combined both indigenous and modern architecture became a successful way in conveying the intention of organizers and in connecting visitors to modernity as well as to Indonesian culture. Pasar Gambir of Batavia was a laboratory of modernity for the colony, and an important stage in modernizing and negotiating cultural and social conditions in the colony. Hybrid architecture presented at Pasar Gambir became a lingua franca that was meant to unite diverse conditions of the society and bridge the gap between the ruler and the ruled. The use of Indonesia vernacular architecture such as Balinese architecture for the Dutch pavilion at the 1931 colonial exhibition in Paris showed a displacing image of indigenous architecture and became a moment when the Indies heritages played a role in marking colonial territory. Taman Mini Indonesia Indah attempted to suppress the Dutch construction of the Indies culture and gave a way to the making of an official ‘authentic’ culture. Through the use of hybrid site and architecture, Taman Mini claimed back the spiritual realm of Indonesian culture that was told by the Dutch as inappropriate without their mediation. Through analysis of the images of Indonesian vernacular architecture at three different sites and times, this dissertation concludes that modernity in the colony was not solely the result of the authorities, rather it was an ongoing process modified by visitors of exhibitions. In the process of staging modernity and consuming it, local audiences create their own understanding of modernity away from the script written by the authorities. Finally, it is Indonesian vernacular architecture that serves as a valuable source and an experiential means through which modernity and local identities are shaped.

Original languageEnglish
PublisherSpringer Fachmedien
Number of pages192
ISBN (Electronic)9783658116057
ISBN (Print)9783658116040
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


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