111029 - 2 Days in Jakarta

Went to Jakarta last week to attend the opening of Beyond Photography exhibition (which I'm a part of) in Ciputra Artpreneur Center. Days later and I'm still not sure what to make of that exhibition. While it claims to try to map the current practice of photography in the country, to me the exhibition is somewhat a distorted view. Some practices are underrepresented while some others are clearly really highlighted. I am by no means an expert in the field but I'm pretty sure Indonesian photography is more varied than the exhibition would have us believe. And it also feels like many participating photographers choose (or make) works which look or feel artsy to fit in more in the exhibition, so there's this air of sameness in it. It seems that so many photographers/artists are trying so hard to think outside the box, while the problem is as far as Indonesian photography is concerned, the box is still way too empty (and it's a pretty huge box). 

But all that aside, overall it's still a pretty impressive show. Some artists spared no expense in their displays and they're quite a delight to see. My favorites include the cubism-style portrait by Riset Indie: Polaroid, the self portrait series by Rama Surya, and Henrycus Napitsunargo's series of dumped bathtubs and sinks. The exhibition is still on display through November 6th if you want to visit. 

Beside Beyond Photography there were also two other exhibitions I visited. The first was a group exhibition titled Indonesia: A Surprise at Galeri Salihara. To be honest I was rather disappointed by this one. I think it failed to even live up to its own title, as there's nothing new or surprising in the exhibited photographs: it's all the typical "natural beauty of Indonesia" cliché. There's an accompanying photobook, though at IDR 500k I think it's way overpriced. This exhibition ended just yesterday.

The next exhibition I went to was Eastward by Martin Westlake at Dia.Lo.Gue Artspace Kemang. Eastward documents Westlake's extensive travel throughout many countries in Asia since 1991. While the images also mostly convey beauty, giving a sense of nostalgia by the muted colors of the photographs, I found this show much more enjoyable than the show at Salihara. Westlake's mastery of the craft (he mainly uses large format camera) really shines through his beautiful prints. This exhibition is still on display until November 20th. Eastward is also available as a book.

But above all, by far the most interesting moment during my brief visit to Jakarta was meeting and having conversation with Erik Prasetya:

The man is lively, intelligent, and most importantly, humble. Though it was the first time we met, he made the atmosphere so unbelievably comfortable that it felt like we've known each other for years. In a way it really explained why his book turned out that way. We talked about many things; about his days assisting Sebastiao Salgado and how that really affected his own work, about his book (and how its concept is something that he still wants to work on—exciting news), about the current state of photography in Indonesia, and much more. Three hours of conversation passed by just like that. So glad I got it all recorded. ;) Really looking forward to discuss many things with him again. And since it turns out that he's practically my neighbor in Jakarta (he lives just 15 minutes away from my home... who would've guessed), I think from now on I will always have a good reason to go back to that contemptible city. 

Aboard Senja Utama Solo, heading out to Jakarta.

Aboard Fajar Utama Yogyakarta, heading back home.

111020 - Kraton Wedding (As Seen By The Average Onlookers)

Last Tuesday (10/18) was the wedding day of Sultan Hamengkubuwono X's youngest daughter Gusti Kanjeng Raden (GKR) Bendara with Kanjeng Pangeran Haryo (KPH) Yudanegara. Aside from national television coverages, the event was also reported live through its official Twitter account @KratonWedding with photos posted to its Tumblr site. It was pretty interesting to see how, for such a royal event, they chose to utilize the instantaneous mobile phone camera photos (lots of Instagrams too) over the higher quality pictures from photojournalists. And seeing the positive reactions from their Twitter & Tumblr followers, I guess nobody really cared about it either. People were already entertained enough to see close up pictures of the groom and bride and all the fancy traditional Javanese processions. 

For those who want to see it firsthand though, it's the usual experience of getting packed with thousands of other onlookers for hours on a really hot day just to get a chance to catch a glimpse of the parading newlywed royal couple through the Malioboro street.

Oh, and I should also mention there were free snacks provided by Kraton through 200 angkringan placed on the sides Malioboro street. Yeah, you can guess how that turned out. 

When the angkringan keeper took out the goods, the whole stuff only lasted for less than 10 seconds. 

And then the long-awaited couple showed up, and everyone waved and clicked away...