Every six months, the curators of Asian art present new works in the Rijksmuseum’s Asian Pavilion. The theme for the coming period is different worldviews and perspectives. Visitors will discover Taiwanese artist Tu Wei-Cheng’s parallel world of Bu-Num, explore a World of Ritual that sheds light on spiritual devotion and veneration, and see the first photographs of Indonesia – taken from both an Indonesian and European perspective. The parallel world of Tu Wei-Cheng
The Taiwanese artist Tu Wei-Cheng (1969) made new work especially for the Asian Pavilion as part of his Bu Num series. Bu Num is the name of Tu’s parallel, virtual world where he operates like an archaeologist to ‘excavate’ his objects. At first sight, they appear to be ancient artefacts, but closer inspection reveals details such as computer parts. Tu Wei-Cheng invites us to use our modern eyes to look at the past and reflect on our own civilisation.
The world of ritual Rituals have a central role to play all religions, to channel the universe or the gods. These practices are still very much alive in the religions of Asia, such as Hinduism and Buddhism. This display of 30 objects –including figures of deities, lamps, goblets and prints – sheds light on rituals performed in Asian countries through the centuries.
The beginnings of photography in Indonesia
Kassian Céphas (1845-1912) was the first professional Indonesian photographer. A selection of his photographs is currently on display alongside photographs by the Flemish-Dutch photographer Isidore van Kinsbergen (1821-1905). Céphas was commissioned by members of the Javanese aristocracy and European businesses to record life on Java. Although though many of his clients were Western, Céphas was clearly Javan in his mindset as a photographer. Van Kinsbergen travelled as a member of a theatre company to Batavia, the colonial capital of Java and the Dutch East Indies, in 1851. His interest in photography led in 1862 to a commission to document archaeological finds on the island. A selection from this series is displayed alongside the photographs by Céphas.
The beginnings of photography in Indonesia runs until 5 April 2020.