More Dreaming Bali..

Meriem of the Mimpi Bali exhibion posted a comment to my original post about the exhibition, and though it is still there, in all fairness to her and Maurizio, I have decided to post her comments as a post along with my answers:

Dear Meriem,

I would like to answer your comment a bit more in detail, yours comments in blue italic, mine in plain.

The first one:

Since the first day of the opening (June 13), each of the photograph exhibited have it own caption. These captions mention the name of the photographer, the year of publication or the year the photograph has been taken, and the provenience, with sometime a description that have the aim to retrace the context in which the image has been taken and/or to replace it in its historical context too. The information we provide are sometime more complete than the original ones provided by the Museum, as they are the result of a research made, on the field, here in Bali.

Regarding your first point, as this is an exhibition of mixed ( mostly deceased) photographers it would have been interesting to know: 1. not only how they were obtained, but 2. also how they were reproduced (scanned from print? From film? From plates? etc) and what they were printed with, the medium and so forth.

You mentioned that most of the “images” displayed belong to public domain. This is not always true. As you know, artistic works and photography belongs to this group, enter in the public domain 75 years after the death of their Authors (copyright is protected during the life of the author and for 75 years after his/her death- Berne Convention-Copyright Law), so for the photographs taken for example in 1930 this is scarcely the case. The photographs belonging to museums has been duly bought to the museum itself and permissions have been requested. The heirs of the photographers, when it was possible, has been contacted and informed about our intention and aim which you did not mentioned and which is, in my opinion, the most important: to give back to the people of Bali what has been taken abroad and what they have never even though it was existing. When the photographer is still unknown, we declare it clearly and the names of the families, who kindly make available their! private family archives to us, are quoted.

I didn’t say that most of the images were in public domain, I said (with tongue in cheek) that most likely most of them are in public domain. Thank you for your standard explanation of copyright – though unfortunately it varies from country to country , despite the Berne Convention. I am glad to hear the permissions were given.

However my point is that this would have been a good occasion to educate people and show that these had been reproduced with the permission of the various institutions etc. (e.g. reproduced with the permission of such and such). That the heirs were contacted is a good thing, and I commend you on that. The Blanco family was mentioned explicitly at the exhibition, and I did mention that. It is true that I didn’t mention Ni Polok’s family.

The second:

You mentioned that the photographs are on sale, and this is true, the price

you indicate is correct Rp. 2 100 000 which means more or less 140 Euro including the “passe-partout” and the frame.

You wrote also that it is not mentioned where the proceeds will finish.

In fact, what an interesting thing it would be if all sales (including the ones made by the photo galleries) would like to declare where the incoming is going!

On all “communiqué” we issued it is clearly mentioned that the earning will be used to organise other exhibition of this kind during the year, open to the general public:

Quote” Reprints of the exhibited works are on sale and the proceeds will be allocated for further forthcoming exhibitions, similar to this one, opened to the general public of Bali and elsewhere in Indonesia, as well as in foreign countries”. The copies of our main announcement, both in English and in Indonesian languages are, since the first day of the opening, on the black board located at the exhibition report it too. All can read it.

As to where the money was going wasn’t clear from the hastily pasted up signage, but if you say so I am sure it was there – I stand corrected. However I have to say that on the opening night the posted “communiqués” as you put it were bits of paper stuck to a board in the most random manner, and it certainly wasn’t clear to me at least, but I accept that if you had put it in these pieces of paper then it must have been. Perhaps an (better) organized bulletin board or announcement board would have been better.

As an owner of a gallery yourself, you perfectly know that organising an exhibition have a cost.

In our case, the “repairing” of most of the photographs, negatives or glasses damaged by dust, moist, water, time and other as well as the printing on a of high quality paper (bought abroad), the framing, the marketing and advertising have to be taken in consideration. We have not included in the total amount of the expenses made the time given by Maurizio Rosenberg Colorni, Arti foundation and myself who have worked on this project some for a full month other for years and the old documentary material we acquired or loaned from all around the world.

Yes obviously exhibitions cost. And if you want to put on an exhibtion you find the money, no need to discuss that. Now that it is clear to me that the money is for that, I don’t have a problem with it. As to your efforts, If you are going to do it of love for it then do so. My criticisms are not meant to belittle that effort, so apologies if you feel that way. I just feel strongly that the finishing touch would have been to have made it very clear to the public regarding the issues I discussed. It is important for the public to be educated on this, that’s part of the purpose of this kind of exhibition. And particularly in Indonesia it is also important to get people used to transparency.

It could be that most of the photographs were already known to you who are a photographer and a long time “connaisseur” of Bali. I can affirm that they were not known (and even not dreamed) by the almost 7300 visitors who have attended the exhibition during the past five days. I sincerely doubt you have ever seen before, for instance, the photographs directly issued from the archives of the family of Ni Pollock or the Blanco’s family, the Thienemann’s family and the Prince of Saba family too.

And I am sure there are many more photographs out there that you and I don’t know about. That’s great that it comes to light. And I did menton that there are some prints which are “new” to the public, and I did say that was interesting.

I personally spend more than five hours a day to the exhibition, every evening, and I am very pleased indeed to feel the surprise, the joy and the proud the visitors demonstrate when looking at the photographs and reading with such an interest all the captions from the beginning to the end. It is for me the most interesting experience I am living since long time ago which give me, let say, the certainty that the soul of Bali is still alive.

I am glad to hear that you have discovered that the “soul of Bali” is still alive. To be honest I think that anything of this genre would create interest for Balinese. What I am saying, Meriem and Marizio, is that it could have been done much better. But I will say that it is a great concept, and that you did put a lot of effort into it, especially as you apparently are in the publishing business you and have been involved in publications of such materials. As I said in my earlier reply, I have heard that you have done much better exhibitions (though I personally have never seen them my sources are good ones) so I base my comments on that.

Good intentions are vital, and I take your word on that. Execution however is vital too. So this “critique” of mine is not meant to discourage you, quite the contrary, I would like you to encourage you to do better next time.

Mimpi Bali, Dreaming Bali… is, I believe, a very appropriate title for such an exhibition that plainly illustrates its purpose, its aim and its spirit.

Subjectively you are within your rights to claim that.

Thank you for your answer and attention to this personal blog. Shanti.

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