Portrait of Soldier, Sumatra 1947-1950
Gum Bichromate over Cyanotype, 2010
Moved emotionally and inquisitively by an extensive archive I inherited from my father, I began to feel the need to understand my connection to him and his personal journey. One part of this archive consists of his original negatives and photographs taken just after the end of World War Two from 1947-1950. These images of Southeast Sumatra, then known as part of the Dutch East Indies, form the basis of this exhibition, For Queen and Country. As a professional photographer I find that his images are poignant and tell a story deeper than what is initially perceived. The process of piecing together his images and memoirs is like putting together a puzzle, just as the young soldiers did in finding their purpose. Their puzzle entailed walking the mazes of jungles, encountering with native villagers, and resolving why Dutch soldiers were occupying these beautiful islands.
This exhibition, For Queen and Country, is an endeavor to piece together my father’s story through a process of personal archive and memory. His photographs presented me with a time line of three years of his life. This exhibition is not only a reconstruction of my father’s life with the aid of his photographs and text but it is the story about him and my mother. The search for family history is universal; everyone wants to know about their family history. In establishing my father’s place in his life before I knew him, I can gradually reclaim previously unknown characteristics about him that enrich portions of my family’s heritage and myself.
© 2010 Hedwig M. Heerschop