Jan Banning & Hilde Janssen

Photographer Jan Banning and writer Hilde Janssen visited Indonesian women who during the war were victims of forced sexual labor. In the exhibition, 18 of them break the persistent taboo against speaking out on the issue, thereby painting a gripping picture of this hidden history.

Hilde Janssen (b. 1959) is a journalist and anthropologist. For the past 15 years, she has lived and worked in Asia. From her base in Jakarta, Janssen traveled the Indonesian archipelago for two years searching for comfort women.

Each portrait sits alongside a caption, detailing the experiences of the women photographed. This kind of captioning documents these women’s testimonies, giving a platform for their voices to be heard. While at present I don’t have the ability to go and speak with former ‘comfort women’ I’d like for my work to explore the forced invisibility of their voices, as I did in my dissertation.

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