From Start to Finish

Almost exactly three years ago today, I left to work on a project in Indonesia.

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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.

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I was working on fellowship from the American Institute for Indonesian Studies.  My goal, to look at contemporary art photography in Java.

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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.

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I lectured and taught workshops on photography across these three cities across the island, at major universities, art colleges, and libraries.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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This is the first exhibition devoted to fine art photography from Indonesia in the United States.  And it definitely feels like an accomplishment.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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(If you are interested in a copy of the book, message me directly via my website!)

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