Day 14: Jogja, Indonesia

Notes from today on Taring Padi and Mes 56.

We visited the home oh Ucup, a Taring Padi member, who showed us a documentary video, “the house of the red monkey” and answered any of our questions afterwards. Taring Padi, which translates to “Fangs of Rice”, use art to communicate a message in relation to certain political or social issues. They collaborate with different communities to help spread their message, and have also produced punk bands to help create awareness throughout the general public. They formed during 1998 in opposition to Suharto and his policies, and after the closure of inner city universities, they set up their old school as their base camp. They make their prints by hand (and feet) by standing and pressing the print into the page and use their art in their demonstrations. The biggest problem, according to Taring Padi, that Indonesia face is environmental issues, as tourism and big hotels are destroying farming land, as well as the government and their ideas on farming. They tackle big problems through small communities, and collaborate with each other, even though the art they create may not be something they would make personally. I found the last point wonderful, that they would give up their time to help a community even though the art they create is not something the individual artist would normally do. I found myself purchasing a piece of art as I wanted to support a group that gives so much back to the community.

After lunch we then paid a visit to the young artists that make up MES 56. Their struggles were of no surprise to me, in that Yogyakarta did not seem like a flourishing place for a photographer to gain experience in. They spoke about their problems in applying for exhibitions as photography is not seen as art, and I was shocked to learn that out of the 18 members, only three were female. There was not much work to see which was a little disappointing considering I was so looking forward to meeting the photographers.

That night, Lisa and I went out location scouting and we found an open area with an old bed frame sitting in the middle of no where. I liked the idea of taking a photograph there and started to think of things I could do in that space. We also walked through alleyways and I knew I wanted to photograph a woman wrapped in a sarong the moment I walked down it. When we got back I photographed my first image for the assignment, but knew I needed to reshoot as it was too messy, the lighting was way too bright, and the background was very uninteresting, but at least I had made a start and the ideas began to flow!

First test image for assignment
First test image for assignment

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