The Bali Dreamers…..

So back in Bali to find lots of things to do, my road is again blocked for the big mass cremation next month and so on. I get an invite in my mailbox which intrigues me:image11.jpgimage2.jpgAn exhibition of classic old photographs organized by Meriem and Marizio Rosenberg Colorni, under the auspices of the ARTI Foundation. Wow, sounds great. It is scheduled for the day before the official opening of annual Bali Arts Festival (PSB). I drive into a completely chaotic parking cum night market scene at Denpasar’s Art Centre. There are stalls being set up on the driveway, there is no signage, no official personnel to guide you. A classic Denpasar mess. I finally find the little building in the corner and see old friends Rucina Ballinger, Garret Kam, Suteja Neka, Pino Confessa – all old Bali culture hands. The mayor of Denpasar is on hand. We stand in the courtyard eating gado-gado, and finally Maurizio makes a little speech about history, and finally we walk in. I have to be honest, it’s all a bit of a disappointment. The prints are so-so, some I would venture look like they have been reproduced out of old books, the rooms is small and hot with all the halogen lights, the prints are hung double on the wall (not my favourite), there is nothing about the provenance of the prints (OK, they are all most likely public domain now but still..).p1020671.jpgIt’s all very slapdash, and somehow it fits with the title “Mimpi” which means dream. Somebody was dreaming here and not really putting it together. I am saying this not to be bitchy but because this could have been something really important for the Balinese and it just falls a bit flat. It is interesting to see some images which are “new” to the public: the prints from the private collection of the Blanco family. Apparently (as advertised) you can buy some of the prints too, for Rp 2,100,000. No mention of where the money is going though. Even for Bali it is a little amateurish.——-Saturday I spend shooting with Jerome Abel Seguin, the sanguine Frenchman who has been doing very amazing furniture out of huge pieces of wood and iron scrap for years before it became fashionable in Bali’s villa circuit. Originally based in Lombok and Sumbawa, he has now moved the operation to Bali. untitled-1.jpg—–On the way there is heavy traffic: the President, Mr SBY is on his way to open the annual Bali Art Festival… Have to say I am not so happy with my president after he came out with his quasi ban on Ahmadiyyah, caving in to FPI supporters and throwing a sop to the opposition (not that it worked) by not making it an “outright” ban, vaguely trying to avoid being unconstitutional. If it really is meant to reinforce the current law against evangelism, why make a decree? Why not just enforce the law across the board? How hopeless all this tightrope walking is.

One Response to “The Bali Dreamers…..”

  1. Rio

    Not sure why this problem came up but apparent;ly Meriem had trouble posting it. So I am posting along with my reply:

    Dear Rio,

    Thank you for having mentioned our event and open a discussion on your blog regarding the exhibition we have organised at the Art Centre in Denpasar (Bali- Indonesia) in collaboration with Arti Foundation and Maurizio Rosenberg Colorni, exhibition untitled Mimpi Bali ending on July 12.

    I have read your review and I have tried to comment it directly on the blog but for unknown reasons this has not been possible. I tried three times without any success.
    I would be pleased however to see my comments added to your blog.

    I would like to complete the information you are giving and clarify some of the points mentioned in your review.

    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.

    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.

    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 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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    Mimpi Bali is only a beginning.

    I thank you for your attention.

    Meriem K. Peillet.
    Pt. Olidea-Quidzy.

    My reply:

    Hi Meriem,

    That is strange that the comment didn’t come thru, usually it automatically asks me for my
    ok to post it in a separate email. I didn’t get that request yet.

    Regarding your comments, I will take a bit of time to reflect on them, however I do stand by
    my comments on most of the issues. There was no clear statement of provenance (how you
    acquired them) which is something a quite vital for an exhibition of the work of people deceased
    etc, and the also it should be very clear where the money goes – this unlike an exhibition
    of a living artist put on with their consent and so forth. I scanned the pasted up signage
    etc at your show and it didn’t show up.

    Apparently you have done much better organized exhibitions before, which unfortunately
    I didn’t witness. But this was not one of them.

    Maybe try and post the comment again on the blog.




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