I got a fuller taste of photography in Java and Bandung the other day.
Perhaps it started with this t-shirt, a gift from one of my hosts at the University of Pasundan, Harry Reynaldi. In addition to his teaching position, Harry works for an organization promoting and advocating for photography in rural communities around Java, RAWS.
So Saturday, together with Harry (Pak HarSOS) and one of his students, Septian, I went out for a long day looking at photographs and art around the city of Bandung. The first stop was Gallery S14, a small gallery and library in the home of Aminudin Siregar, the current gallery curator at the Institute of Technology in Bandung, one of the most prestigious art programs in Southeast Asia. Aminudin was a contributing curator to the most recent Singapore Biennale, and Pak HarSOS billed him as one of the most influential curators working in Indonesia today.
Aminudin showed me around the gallery and art work spread around his house, as well as the impressive, public library dedicated to art that occupies much of the first floor of his home. I told him of my interest/ambitions to organize an exhibition of contemporary photography from Indonesia back in my home in New York. He showed me some photographic work in his gallery by Henrycus Napitsunargo, and alum of the program at ITB. I loved his work, and asked Aminudin if he could provide an introduction before I left Bandung. He said he’d be happy to do so, and we continued to look through his collection of art and the library, sitting down to lunch about 40 minutes later.
As we sat down to lunch, several more people arrived. Aminudin invited over several photographs living in Bandung for me to meet. Together, we all spent the next three to four hours talking about photography, my ambitions for this exhibition, Indonesia, and America. It was a great afternoon.
I then left with Pak HarSOS and Septian, heading out for the Bandung Heritage Society. Park Har SOS arranged for me to meet with a curator here, to look at and talk about old photographs made in Bandung during the Dutch colonial government. I spent the next hour and half with Pak Ade, looking at this old Dutch publication looking at the history and development of the architecture across the city of Bandung.
We left the Bandung Heritage Society sometime around 5 or 5:30, and went to a small gallery in town hosting an amateur photography contest. All the pictures were pulled from Instagram; they called the exhibition Sundagram (Sunda refers to the historical culture of West Java). It was a densely packed day, but I got a broad look at the photographic culture of Bandung.