Almost exactly three years ago today, I left to work on a project in Indonesia.
I spent a few weeks in Bali and Lombok before heading for Java. I worked in three different cities in Java – Yogyakarta, Bandung, and Jakarta – for four months.
I was working on fellowship from the American Institute for Indonesian Studies. My goal, to look at contemporary art photography in Java.
My time in Java was amazing. I think it was really the only time in my professional life when the work I accomplished far exceeded my expectations.
I lectured and taught workshops on photography across these three cities across the island, at major universities, art colleges, and libraries.
I met artists, students, curators, and professors interested in photography, and I met some of the leading and most influential practitioners of the medium working in Java today.
When I got back to the States, I think I must have impressed the AIFIS board. They helped spread the word of my work in Java, and as a result I was given the opportunity to curate an exhibition for the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University.
Three years since I left on my AIFIS grant, and the project now feels complete. Open at the Johnson Museum is Identity Crisis: Reflections on Public and Private Life in Contemporary Javanese Photography, the exhibition I put together during my four month research fellowship in 2014.
This is the first exhibition devoted to fine art photography from Indonesia in the United States. And it definitely feels like an accomplishment.
Additionally, I worked in collaboration with the Johnson Museum and Afterhours Books in Jakarta to put together a book to accompany the exhibition. The like the exhibition, the book is a first of its kind.
The book includes pictures by the 10 contributing photographers from Java; pictures by Claire Holt, Niels Douwes Dekker, Kassian Cephas, and Isidore van Kinsbergen; an essay I wrote about the project; and an afterward by Javanese curator Aminudin TH Siregar, in which he writes about the first attempts to define photography as an art in Java.
From start to finish, a project that means a great deal to me, and one that feels like an important contribution to the field of photography.
(If you are interested in a copy of the book, message me directly via my website!)