Treasure Islands, 2012
Raw buffalo leather, mirrors and nails
Collection of the Artist
Treasure Islands delves into overlooked chapters of Indonesia’s colonial past, threading together geographies as disparate as the tiny spice island of Rhun in Maluku, Indonesia, and the metropolis of Manhattan in New York. In the 1667 Treaty of Breda, the Netherlands relinquished their claims to New York (then known as New Amsterdam), in exchange for control of Rhun in the Indonesian archipelago, which was home to precious nutmeg trees, then regarded as the linchpin for Dutch control of the highly profitable spice trade. Three and a half centuries later, the fortunes of these island outposts of empire have diverged dramatically, and Rhun has all but faded from global awareness. Treasure Islands is inspired by a desire to recover these submerged historical relationships: the orange-gold surfaces of these skin-maps, embedded with glittering mirrors and nails, are redolent of the colour of the spices, yet evoke an arid and barren landscape, stripped of its treasures.