Why Imagemakers of the Future?

Whether the literary figures who crowded the streets of Ubud during the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival like it or not, visual language is becoming a more popular mode of communication of ideation, ideas, and even ideals, than ever before. Photography, ever more sophisticated and accessible, is becoming ever more central to that language. The photograph has become an indelible part of our communal consciousness, the icons, the shared image -the conveyor of news, memories, and artistic expression.

Because of this the exhibition of 11 emerging Indonesian photographers in the middle of the UWRF buzz took on an extra significance.

Learning the visual language of photography, being fluent in it, takes time and receptivity. And the 11 photographers featured are no exception to this process.
But what is exceptional is that they are all working sincerely at experimenting with it, at developing their fluency, at communicating their vision, passion, and experiences. Sure, there are plenty of influences of other older photographers evident in their work, perhaps even from the ‘senior’ Indonesian photographers who co-curated the show.

But those senior photographers in their turn were influenced by their predecessors and contemporaries. Meanwhile the language of photography becomes more sophisticated, more complex, more varied. Photography is becoming more and more of universal language as its practitioners gain more an more access to simply doing it.

In Indonesia, like in many other places, photography in all its varieties has developed in leaps and bounds in the last decade. It’s an astounding phenomenon. The digital age has just about broken down the last barriers to affordability and accessibility, yet there are also serious practitioners of such arcane photographic arts as ‘lomography’ and pin-hole photography.

I disagree strongly with one foreign blogger who felt that the show is all too imitative, going so far as to claim some of the work reflects an aimless rebellion and even a lack of courage. Actually it’s all very ‘explorative’. Exploring bodies of pre-existing work, exploring their own realms of experience. They look to the extents of the language they are learning to find ways to express what they have seen and been captured by, and they do so with plenty of courage.

A young girl, born and raised in a conservative Betawi family talks her way into birthing ward in an unfamiliar city on her first trip overseas to record one of the most harrowing moments of human life. A young Balinese photographer, ever alert, instinctively takes a parting shot of a forlorn, young Australian prisoner facing a possible death sentence in a strange land. A brash kid, barely a quarter century old, convinces an iconic Indonesian diva to drape herself in toilet paper for a portrait. Another explores, in an ever so-slightly-satirical mode, the metaphoric journey of a doll named Mimi on a typical south-east Asian junket. A Balinese prince leaves comfort behind on a 9 month odyssey exploring the dusty trails of Central Asia and the sub-continent to bring back images vibrant.

All of them have pushed their own youthful boundaries, all eleven are passionately committed to their work, and they are all working photographers. Looking at their work and seeing the quality and vision that is already there, I know that if they continue they will be the future image makers whose work will be indelibly etched into our communal consciousness.

Imagemakers of the Future is on at the Alila Ubud until the 30th of November 2009.
open from 9:00 am to 9:00pm

5 Responses to “Why Imagemakers of the Future?”

  1. Alila Ubud

    We are very proud to sponsor this event showcasing some really talented emerging photographers in Indonesia. Visitors to the BLIPfest event were super enthusiastic!

    The Alila Ubud Team

  2. KUNANG HELMI writer

    Some art historians might be interested in reading my synopsis of photographers in indonesia until circa 1996 for the encyclopedia of indonesian arts, publ. didier millet.
    1.the point being how can one learn if not learning from elders, such as exquisite American photographer IRVING PENN (who just passed away aged in the 90s) and then going out on an adventure to find the new. Indonesia has a surprising amount of good photographers, and is certainly not a backwaters when it comes to photography.Experimentation is important for everybody so as not to stay stiff, even if one sticks to certain rules.
    2. Started in 19th century in Indonesia with an Javanese photographer called Kassian Cephas, whether INDO OR NOT, he brought in an Indonesian photographer’s view-point despite working for foreigners, there were others as well
    3. also an interesting branch of Indonesian womens’ photography coming up

  3. Kunang Helmi

    I believe that images can be icons, signposts in history and part of visual language, these messages are flashed causing relatively fast reactions by people and are read equally fast. Then the link steps in and a chain reaction of thought is launched, all this in nanoseconds which can form a pattern ie film associated with sound etc.
    It is important Indonesian media goes through this development to produce something distinctively Indonesian, personality of a nation, witty, sad etc.

    Just attended vernissage of huge exhibition dedicated to Delpire & Cie at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie. This show goes over four floors with photos set out in patterns, book covers as well, short films to illustrate stories or publicity. Delpire was director of the French state photo gallery, began with layout for books, first was that of legendary Henri Cartier-Bresson, you know that one about Bali with the pink cover and legong dancing girls, part of text by Ratna Cartier-Bresson known as Eli. He was just 23 at the time and had finished medical school.
    Delpire went on to work for political, cultural magazines etc etc, it goes on and on with book covers of series, never a one off piece, and just proves that images count, whether photography or illustrations, the message gets through. He even brilliantly arranged vegetation and insects to illustrate his subject because the man died too soon, about illustations of this sort plus invitations, could be classed as art, but what is important the EYE is immediately caught and riveted by the beauty, the horror and all the emotions,, It is all there in Indonesia and bravo to the people who connect to the young Indonesians to teach them how to see and to present through excellent photo editing.
    Good night from Paris

  4. Kunang Helmi

    By the way, book authors have covers and illustrations which are supposed to draw the eye of the beholder and incite them to read.
    All also had the privilege of seeing Ara Guler’s Lost Istanbul which just closed down. Pure black & white photography with such a strong image of Istanbul after the war. These images set poetry in motion by the way.
    No more from me except after London!

    Kunang on the way to London from Paris

  5. kunang helmi

    Back from London where yours truly was robbed of atm card, I attended several frenzied days of Paris Photo which ended on Sunday 22 november. This year was a great year for sales after last year’s sales being hit by Madoff debacle.
    Arab and Iranian photographers were featured and our friend Andreas Lang was shown at Bernheimer Fine Art from Munich. Arab women and Iranian ladies also featured with and without veils. Great stuff and I bought several books as my budget is reduced, but intend to get into this collecting next year.
    Expensive prints were sold at Howard Greenberg, New York, and Hamilton’s among others, with Irving Penn prints; many expressed interest for INDONESIAN photography wo what is stopping us from showing there next year, including Timothy Jeffries of Hamilton’s Gallery in London.
    Books and vintage books, modern photo prints and vintage prints went like hot cakes for the Xmas season and for permanent collections. Read JP next week for a brief report.
    So hooray for the Blipfest…. Kunang from Paris


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