Footnotes from Central Java: Closing Seminar on the 8th Expedition

Footnotes from Central Java: 5-9 September 2016
An expedition to the volcanoes Ungaran, Sindoro and Merbabu


Between 1836 and 1848, the German explorer Franz Junghuhn (1809-1864) made several expeditions on Java in the service of the Dutch colonial authorities. He was among the first to climb the island’s many volcanoes. His scientific works, books, maps, and lithographs made him the “Humboldt of Java.”


We follow Junghuhn’s footsteps and explore 17 of his favorite Javanese volcanoes.


As giant figures in the landscape, these volcanoes are deeply rooted in the cultural life of Java. They created the land and continuously transform it. Their potential destructiveness is overwhelming. Yet, they shape the land and feed the people by producing fertile grounds for one of the world’s most densely populated islands. Volcanoes cannot be considered landscape. They are objects with distinct qualities—personalities—and are even able to communicate. They remain silent for a while, and suddenly start to speak again. By visiting Junghuhn’s favorite volcanoes, we converse with each of them as well. The closer we get to them, the clearer we perceive their singularity. They help us to define the island of Java not by its exterior coastline, but from within.


The 17 volcanoes form territorial markers that allow us to interweave historical and contemporary narratives of Indonesia. As politically, economically and culturally charged objects that act and behave in periodic cycles, these volcanoes are neither urban nor rural, neither alive nor dead, neither past nor present, neither good nor bad. Their ambiguous existence makes them particularly interesting for an architectural scrutiny.


A report on the expedition with presentations by Philip Ursprung, Alex Lehnerer, Stephen Cairns, and Sebastian Linsin (FCL, Singapore ETH Centre). Followed by a group discussion and apero.


All seminars are open to the public.



Download the poster here.

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