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Pictures above: Hans Kleijn and Herwin Wels

Commissioned by the Stichting Indisch Erfgoed (Foundation for Indo European Heritage) Aafke created the theatre performance Tanpa Wajah / Without a Face, in the first place on account of the then (2015) recently published book ‘Daar werd wat gruwelijks verricht –  Slavernij in Nederlands-Indië’ of author Reggie Baay, about slavery in the former Dutch Indies.

The book shines a light on the hidden slavery in the former Dutch Indies, current Indonesia. The author not only provides a thorough description of the history of slavery in that region, but also tries to find an answer to the question why in The Netherlands there is more attention towards slavery in the “West”, but not so much for the practice of buying, keeping and selling slaves in the “East.

Tanpa Wajah / Without a Face is about the depersonification of slaves in the former Dutch Indies during the VOC-period and even long after, when slavery was already officially abolished (The Netherlands were very late with the abolishment of slavery (1863) compared to other countries).

Although the piece depicts no real story, it shows Aafke’s vision as an artist on the difficult, cruel, arbitrary, indifferent, but above all unequal treatment of the white ‘master’ and his slave, in this case a local woman (from Java). Even though colonial society has vanished, the mindset of oppression unfortunately still can be found in every day lives today, in The Netherlands and everywhere else in the world.

The performance alternates between solemnity and humor, and movement, text, voice, music, costumes (partly made from Indonesian crispy chips, called kerupuk, in The Netherlands usually knows as kroepoek) and props reinforce each other.


Tanpa Wajah/Without a Face was performed amongst others during the TongTong Festival 2015 in Den Haag in ArtCafé SamSam in Apeldoorn and in the Lokhorst Church in Leiden during the 19th Colloquium Neerlandica organized by the International Vereniging voor Neerlandistiek.

Poster Tanpa Wajah/Without a Name - Aafke de Jong - picture: Jonas de Witte (Beeldontwerp)

Picture: Jonas de Witte/Beeldontwerp

Concept, choreography, stage design

& part of costume design 

Aafke de Jong


Rahmida Dewi Patmawati


Boudewyn Scholten

Part of costume design 

Remona Poortman 


Craig Armstrong, Aphex Twin,

Sweelinck, The Kilima Hawaiians 

Wooden chair made by 

Onno de Ronde 

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