Participation in “Membongkar Bingkai – Membuka Sekat” exhibition at PKKH UGM

 

Next week I am taking part in an alumni exhibition organised by PKKH UGM to commemorate the dies natalis (anniversary) of my alma mater Universitas Gadjah Mada Yogyakarta. Titled Membongkar Bingkai – Membuka Sekat, the exhibition runs Monday through Saturday, 11–16 December 2017 at PKKH gallery.

I will be presenting a photo series about special school for deaf students in Wonosobo, Central Java I made three years ago. The series was actually intended for something else but the project has been left undone, so this exhibition is its first public showing. Come and see if you are around. ∎

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Speaker on documentary/art photography discussion

Budi Ostkreuz KKF

This Wednesday I will be taking part in a panel together with Karina Roosvita and Vivien Poly to talk about the development of photography from its documentary function to its more artistic uses and the influence of social media, and how the three influence each other. The discussion is held in conjunction with the screening of the film Foto: OSTKREUZ (Maik Reichert, documentary, 2015), about the German photo agency Ostkreuz, founded after the fall of Berlin Wall in 1990.

Term of reference for the discussion is as follows. Art or documentation: Can everybody become a photographer? Only little more than a decade ago, young Indonesian photographers started to develop photography as art form that now is also recognized by galleries and curators. Like once Ostkreuz they started taking pictures of daily life in streets or private homes that before would never have been considered worth to be shown to a public audience. Today everybody can experiment with photography on instagram and other social media. Where is the boundary between art and simply catching a moment? And what is the role of professional photographers in this new media world?

The film is in German with English subtitle; the discussion will be held in Bahasa Indonesia. The film screening and the following talk are held at Kedai Kebun Forum, open for public and free of charge. Come and join us if you are in town and have time. ∎

Essay for Octo Cornelius’s solo exhibition “Unpredictable Scenes”

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While we are busy with plans
by Budi N.D. Dharmawan
Essay for Octo Cornelius’s solo show Unpredictable Scenes
Jogja Contemporary, 10–26 October 2017

Octo Cornelius came to me with the phrase “random life”. We then talked about it while sipping coffee under the not-so-bright light of the bookstore-side coffee shop. That phrase which he brought was so irksome that Octo felt that he needed to materialise it into artworks, into an exhibition. The idea was so obnoxious that Octo thought he needed to talk about it—with me. Since we had that conversation many months ago, I got intrigued myself, both by the idea of an exhibition as well as the idea of random life itself.

A series of short meetings with Octo since that evening had once become a phantom that haunted me. At first, I found it difficult to spare my time and thought to respond to Octo’s gargantuan energy. Why Octo came to me in the first place was to collect what I had promised him. I once asked him to do an exhibition together many years ago, but it never materialised. Events and incidents that took place around us since have enabled me to slowly absorb the narrative behind the idea of random life. The passing of time has also made Octo’s enormous energy to tone down—not vanished or extinguished, but like more regulated and not as bursting as it was before. His big idea has become sharpened and more focused as well.

The theme random life offered by Octo reminded me of a famous quote from Albert Einstein, “I do not believe God plays dice with the universe.” Einstein said so because he was unhappy with the randomness of the universe. This view was later known as hidden variable theory—because of this hidden variable we could not accurately calculate the exact position and velocity of a particle at a certain time, so it appeared random. It was firts thought to be in line with Werner Heisenberg’s Principles of Uncertainty, until few decades later John Bell’s experiment managed to prove otherwise. There ara no hidden variables. The universe is random.

What is left, then, according to the Principles of Uncertainty, are estimates. Being random and unpredictable does not eliminate structure and order. In fact, this state widens possibilities, that an event does not occur from a single cause and is not independent, but a part of a series of chain reaction that affects and affected by other things and events. From a given string of events, I can find a pattern and make estimates, but that is that: estimates. Approximates. Unpredictable. That is random life.

Incidents and affairs that I experienced lately have also contributed to my point of view in understanding Octo’s random life narrative, which in our initial exchange was like in a frenzy. Experiences, with all its sour and bitter taste, have equipped me with understanding. Many are not yet unraveled, but I will let those moments be remembered randomly without me needing to predict what the next will be. Meanwhile, I must face my phantom and come full circle with Octo through this exhibition.

Octo Cornelius in this exhibition presents a number of works that try to bring a conversation about those random and unpredictable moments. About the improper timing, about keeping the faith in the midst of doubt, about searching and waiting within limitations, about courage that sometimes come from ignorance.

These random moments in life come from Octo’s contemplation and reflection, which then embodies into his workmanship and materialises into his works. This exhibition, Unpredictable Scenes, offers to us a pause from our daily obligations and takes us for a short while to enjoy the randomness of life. Because life is what happens while we are busy with plans.

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Photo courtesy of Jogja Contemporary ∎

Alumni professional sharing at John de Britto High School Yogyakarta

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Earlier today, I was invited to share my professional experience in photojournalism to the senior students of John de Britto High School, from which I graduated more than a decade ago. The purpose of this professional orientation is to give the students an idea of what it is like in real life to work in a certain field that they may find interesting to pursue as a field of study or even future career.

I shared my session with my senior who is now a photojournalist for Kompas, one of the top national daily newspapers here in Indonesia, P. Raditya Mahendra Yasa (Wendra). I knew Wendra since I was a sophomore and he was still studying Communications at Universitas Atma Jaya Yogyakarta, almost fifteen years ago. During the session, I shared some basic and general principles and knowledge in working in photojournalism, while Wendra emphasised that though we both work in the same field, our work natures are different: him being a national daily newspaper staff photographer while I am a freelance photographer working for magazines, both national and foreign.

Thank you, Pak Widi Nugroho, my English teacher who contacted and invited me. I hope what I and Wendra shared are useful for the students.

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Photographs courtesy of P. Raditya Mahendra Yasa ∎

Judging photo story contest Arjuna 2017

I will be a jury member of a photo story contest for students, organised by students of Communications Department, Universitas Gadjah Mada Yogyakarta. The photo contest, Arjuna, is part of a larger event called Ajisaka. Submissions are open until 7 October 2017. Short-listed finalists will get a coaching clinic with seasoned photojournalist.

More information here: http://ajisaka.fisipol.ugm.ac.id/

or follow them on social media: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. ∎

By the River of Love at Fisipol Art Days 2017

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Photo by Budi N.D. Dharmawan

My photo series By the River of Love (2011–2012) is being exhibited again. I was invited to be a guest exhibitor for this year’s edition of Fisipol Art Days, held by my former campus Fisipol Universitas Gadjah Mada Yogyakarta, along with fellow Fisipol UGM alumni Akiq A.W., Jompet Kuswidananto, and T.A. Kusno. The exhibition, titled “Future Leaks: 5W+1H Are We Going?” is curated by Titah Asmaning Winedhar and is on view 26–30 September 2017 at Fisipol UGM’s new library building. ∎