On 16 June morning, I came to Jakarta for the talkshow at Raden Saleh exhibition with four friends: Sari, Oki, Ratna and Bambang. They are art workers in Yogyakarta whom I often hang out with. They wanted to see the exhibition first before attending the talkshow in the afternoon. We decided on the last minute to go from Yogyakarta by airplane, after initially we planned to take the train. The tickets are quite the same price anyway. At the exhibition, we met some other friends from Yogyakarta like Dwe Rachmanto and Melisa Angela from Indonesian Visual Art Archive, Brigitta Isabella of Kunci Cultural Studies Center, Antariksa of Indonesia Contemporary Art Network, artists Agung Kurniawan, Santi and Otom of Indieguerillas, Uji Handoko, and Gintani Swastika, among others.
In the afternoon, people from National Geographic Indonesia started to come, like Mahandis Yoanata who edited my article on Raden Saleh and would moderate the talkshow, Reynold Sumayku the photo editor, Vega Probo the editor of NG Traveler Indonesia, Fredy Susanto who just finished the design and layout for the next edition of NGI and NGTI, Hafidz Novalsyah the photographer for NGTI, and Didi Kasim the editor in chief of NGI, among others.
I was quite nervous, to be honest, to speak side by side with Werner Kraus who is the expert of Raden Saleh, with 20+ years of research. He spoke first by telling the audience the stories of the painter when he was young, and how he developed his skills and expanded his royal network in Europe. Afterwards, I shared my experiences in doing my research for the NGI article to the audience. I prepared a slideshow with some unpublished photos for my presentation. More or less of my story that I presented can also be read here.
After the talkshow, some people from the audience stopped me to ask more questions, like how to be a National Geographic Indonesia contributor. All of them asked one same question: How long it took to do the article. When I told them it took me one whole year to research, travel, photograph, and write, they looked surprised. One guy said that he thought it only took two weeks. I smiled to him, and said to myself, I wish it could be done in two weeks, so I could spend the rest fifty weeks doing other things. But it did take a year. ∎