The Silence Between Us

Added on by Ridzki Noviansyah.

I don't know when it started, but there was always such silence. Since I was young, I always view you as a person that I always wanted to be. You were the epitome of a cool guy despite your temper. I remember your stories and the photographs and the postcards that accompany it. Back then the silence made you even cooler.

I remember one-day mom told me that the silence between us became become bigger, as there was an actual distance between us. Realizing that you changed. You became warmer, but still, the silence lingered. If we met or talked, we didn't know how to start a conversation or to maintain one. I realized since that time, that we both struggled to overcome it.

Before the silence became permanent, you apologized. As far as I remember that was your first.  I can only reply your apology later, by saying I love you, my first ever too.

Now the silence is permanent, and I realize if I were to repeat this all over again, the silence will still be there. It was a part of us, it gave us room to understood each other and in some ways, It actually spoke louder than any voice we ever uttered.

Allow me to say this again, I love you and I will miss you Dad. 


Added on by Ridzki Noviansyah.

I got my first tattoo when I was 22 years old. I have an idea of what I want to make but I have no clue who should make it. At that time I was looking for ones who understands the art inside out, have the principle and most importantly I can make a connection with them. I finally met with Aman Durga Sipatiti and Ade Itameda and got all my five tattoos from them.

My first tattoo is a Dayak scorpion on my upper right arm by Durga. Ade made the next one: the word “Moksha” contained inside an impossible triangle on my chest. The third and fourth one are made simultaneously within nine hours, a double Bunga Terung on my left and right shoulder. The last one is a lotus flower on my upper left arm, which I suspiciously filled with magic when I was in Bali. I got all of them in the span of two years and I hid all of them from my parents for seven years.

My parents are like typical suburban parents who still engage the world, embrace technology and keeping an open mind. There are however several topics that they always avoid like sex and death, tattoos, however, weren’t always like that. I recall my mother made grunt-like sounds while smiling when his uncle’s show his tattoo during one of those family reunions. My father was half jokingly said I will look badass if I have a tattoo when one day he saw a stamp on my right lower arm.

There are a few reasons why I hide it for seven years. First, I don’t understand them. I have not spent too much time with them because I have been living on my own since I was 17 years old. I don’t understand how open they are about me. Second, around the same time when I made my tattoo, a series of events happened to our family and it made my parents grew more religiously. The lack of understanding and that series of events made me more secretive about the tattoos I had.

By now you understand why I chose to hide my tattoos and you probably want to ask how did I hide five tattoos for seven years. It’s actually very simple, just a combination of discipline, self-awareness and knows which shirt to wear during sleeping. Hiding a tattoo from my parents is much like crossing a road in Jakarta, you really need to be aware of where they could come to notice your tattoo.


The lack of understanding and the fear of disappointing the people who are close to us drive us to become dishonest to ourselves and to others. In another case, we try to compromise and did not address the elephant in the room and creating a fragile comfort zone. Some tried not to compromise at all and pretend not to care, diverting their attention to something or someone else entirely starting a case of infidelity.

Over the course of my relationships with other people, I have learned not only to accept but also to learn about others. I realize sometimes we need to swallow the bitter truth rather than waiting for it to implode in our faces destroying everything in the room. Sometimes we need to make the first move and sometimes it was presented to us so we just need to walk through it. For me and my parents, it was the latter.

Here’s the story of how they knew my tattoos; one day I come back from the office, as always I unbutton my shirt’s second button from the top and I never forget to button it again when my parents are around (except for this time). My parents were in my apartment and I need to go right away for a meeting, so I unload my bags and fill it with my meeting material. The following were my conversation with my mother:

Mum: Are you going to have dinner here?

Me: Nah, gonna go for a meeting. I am going to have my dinner in Citywalk.

Mum: Is that a tattoo on your chest?

Me: (realize I haven’t button my shirt up) Nope. (Looked at the mirror and it was clear as day, they can see the tattoo) Well… uh yeah, that’s a tattoo…

Mum: Come closer let me see that… (looks at tattoo and touching it), does it hurt?

Me: Yap a bit….

Mum: You know, it looks ugly so don’t make another one.

That was it. The past seven years I have been afraid of their rejection and disappointment only to find out that they were disappointed that my tattoo is ugly. Not because I never told them about it and not because I rebelled against the rules.


Originally published on Medium July 4th, 2016


Added on by Ridzki Noviansyah.
“Menurut saya karya fotografi ini menarik sekali”

Kata-kata diatas adalah salah satu komentar yang terlalu sering saya dengar tentang sebuah karya fotografi, entah itu suatu dalam sebuah diskusi, seminar atau hanya obrolan-obrolan iseng. Syukur kalau setelah kata itu diucapkan si pemberi komentar dapat menjelaskan lebih lanjut mengenai kenapa karya foto tersebut menjadi menarik. Sialnya kebanyakan komentator berhenti sampai di sana saja. “Menarik” memang mungkin bukan kata yang salah, namun “menarik” juga tidak menjelaskan lebih banyak. Kata-kata serupa “menarik” yang sering kita jumpai di percakapan sehari-hari adalah “baik” dan “gitu”.

Sebagai contoh:

“Bagaimana gebetanmu yang itu?”
“yah orangnya baik kok”


“Gitu maksud gw, paham kan?”
“he em”.

Kata seperti “menarik’ atau “baik” atau “gitu” memiliki suatu kelemahan karena belum tentu yang dimaksud oleh si pembicara sama dengan makna yang ditangkap oleh si pendengar.

Kembali ke pokok bahasan, ada beberapa hal yang menjadikan “menarik” sebagai kata pilihan untuk menjelaskan sebuah karya. Yang pertama adalah kurangnya kemampuan seorang fotografer untuk keluar dari dunia fotografi, padahal kemajuan teknologi memberikan akses bagi para fotografer untuk mendapatkan berbagai inspirasi dan informasi. Seringkali yang terjadi adalah para fotografer mencari inspirasi dalam bentuk sebuah foto pula. Karya-karya milik Cartier-Bresson, Trent Parke atau Alex Webb misalnya menjadi salah satu acuan favorit untuk membuat karya street photography. Padahal seorang fotografer seharusnya mampu dan mau untuk mendapatkan inspirasi dari berbagai karya yang lain seperti seni sastra, seni lukis, tarian atau novel-novel fiksi. Sesuatu yang berada di luar internet. Kurangnya inspirasi dalam bentuk lain ini, menurut saya membuat seseorang memiliki perbendaharaan kata yang sedikit.

Yang kedua, kata menarik menjadi pilihan utama karena kata itulah yang dipopulerkan menjadi standar umum kritik fotografi amatir. Bagi beberapa orang yang menyimak berbagai karya fotografi yang berseliweran di internet, kata ini akan sangat mudah dibaca berulang-ulang di kolom komentar. Sebagai sebuah kata “menarik” adalah kata yang aman, ia tidak baik dan tidak pula buruk dan sebagai kata yang aman ia mengurangi resiko dibully jika anda salah kritik.

Pada tulisan ini saya tidak hanya akan meminta anda membaca Murakami atau Kundera atau mendengarkan Beethoven lalu dilanjutkan The Raveonettes untuk mendapatkan inspirasi. Saya juga akan memberikan dua tawaran untuk memperluas ruang argumen, karena menurut saya kata “menarik” membuat kita malas untuk mengeluarkan argumen. Dua tawaran itu datang dalam bentuk kata yaitu kontekstual dan relevan.

Sebuah karya fotografi menjadi kontekstual jika ia mampu menjelaskan atau dijelaskan (oleh) kondisi zaman ketika si fotografer mengambil gambarnya atau pada di masa depan. Sebagai contoh, karya The Americans oleh Robert Frank adalah karya yang pada awalnya kontekstual untuk oleh publik Eropa, karena gaya fotografinya yang sangat candid sehingga menghasilkan foto yang — menurut majalah Popular Photography — meaningless blur, grain, muddy exposures, drunken horizons and general sloppiness. Gaya fotografi yang sama tidak diterima dengan baik oleh publik Amerika Serikat, karena mereka terbiasa dengan karya-karya dari Walker Evans yang sangat jelas dalam menggambarkan foto. Salah satu faktor yang mendukung publik Amerika Serikat untuk menyadari konteks The Americans adalah karena tulisan pengantar yang dibuat oleh Jack Kerouac. Dimana foto-foto milik Frank dianggap dapat mewakili karya sastra beat generation yang populer (dan kontekstual) pada saat itu.

Relevansi di lain hal, adalah ukuran untuk menilai seberapa pentingnya sebuah karya fotografi itu pada audiens yang dituju. Audiens ini adalah mereka yang mengamati fotografi; baik galeri, kurator, media, masyarakat umum atau kelompok tertentu. Sebagai sebuah karya yang lahir dari pemikiran yang subyektif, fotografi terkadang hanya menjadi relevan bagi si fotografer dan tidak bagi orang lain. Karena itu seorang fotografer yang ingin menyampaikan idenya harus awas dan sadar apakah karyanya tersebut relevan bagi audiensnya.

Sebagai contoh untuk ukuran Indonesia, dimana karya-karya yang beredar adalah karya-karya yang menonjolkan keindahan (baik model berbaju minim, maupun pemandangan alam bebas) sebuah karya yang mengeksplorasi sisi personal adalah karya yang menjadi langka. Karya seperti ini menjadi relevan karena ia memberikan sesuatu yang baru dan memberikan alternatif untuk memandang fotografi. Tentu karya-karya fotografi sebagai ekspresi personal sudah beredar luas di luar sana, namun ketika kita bicara tentang publik Indonesia karya seperti ini menjadi relevan karena sebagian besar orang awam akan hal tersebut.

Sekian saja tawaran dari saya, mudah-mudahan tawaran ini dapat membuat diskusi tentang fotografi (baik karya maupun pemikiran) berlanjut dan tidak berhenti dengan komentar menarik, kontekstual atau relevan. Saya juga harap tulisan ini dapat ditanggapi dan tidak berhenti dengan komentar “Wah menarik sekali tulisanmu Ki!”

Me and My City – Sebuah Upaya Berpameran

Added on by Ridzki Noviansyah.

Beberapa waktu yang lalu, saya akhirnya melihat sendiri karya-karya yang dipamerkan dalam Me and My City dan mendengar langsung dari para fotografernya tentang karya mereka. Pada tulisan ini. saya akan fokus terhadap pameran secara keseluruhan karena ulasan-ulasan mengenai karya dan perbincangan di media sosial sudah disampaikan oleh rekan-rekan yang lain. Sebelum saya memulai tulisan ini, saya nampaknya harus memberi tahu dua hal; yang pertama adalah saya kenal semua yang terlibat dari pameran ini, baik para fotografer, penyelenggara, dan sponsor. Yang kedua saya merasa pameran ini dapat mencapai banyak pihak, akan tetapi sialnya hal itu tidak terjadi. Alasan yang kedua adalah kenapa saya membuat tulisan ini.

Saya bertemu Swan Ti, Wilson dan Tommy sehari sebelum karya ini dipasang. Mereka bertiga mewakili ketiga pihak yang terlibat dalam pameran ini yaitu fotografer, penyelenggara, dan sponsor. Pada saat itu saya bertanya mengenai acara pembukaan dan artist talk, namun saya tidak mendapat jawaban yang jelas. Padahal ada beberapa pertanyaan yang ingin saya sampaikan, seperti bagaimanakah para peserta ini diseleksi, apa keterlibatan Leica Indonesia, dan yang paling utama: apa yang ingin disampaikan dalam pameran ini. Setelah pameran ini dibuka, saya melihat ulasan beberapa teman di linimasa beserta dengan beberapa gambar dari karya Asih dan Ista. Tak lama muncullah cuitan dari Arief Rahman yang menyatakan foto bagus jelek sih relatif yang penting kamera mahal. Cuitan ini lalu dibalas oleh berbagai rekannya. Pendek cerita, karena saya iseng, saya ambil link-nya dan saya letakkan di Facebook saya sambil melakukan tag kepada pihak-pihak yang terlibat tadi.

Keisengan saya menghasilkan reaksi yang saya harapkan; seperti bertambahnya berbagai tulisan mengenai pameran tersebut dan dialog dengan Arief Rahman di Twitter. Reaksi yang muncul ini bukan hanya datang dari penggiat social media dan fotografer yang terlibat, tetapi juga dari Agan Harahap dan Hikmat Darmawan. Berbagai reaksi ini, sayangnya, belum bisa menjawab berbagai pertanyaan saya. Hal ini disebabkan oleh tidak adanya forum publik yang mempertanggung-jawabkan hasil karya tersebut. Sampai akhirnya saya berkesempatan untuk melihat dan mendengarkan paparan dari para pelaku utama pameran itu.

Kamu, Kamu dan Kamu

Sebelum saya melanjutkan ulasan saya tentang pameran, nampaknya perlu saya jelaskan sekali lagi mengenai hubungan saya dengan pihak-pihak yang terlibat. Saya tidak hanya mengenal mereka yang terlibat secara langsung pameran ini tetapi saya juga berteman dengan mereka. Kami tidak hanya menjadi sekedar kawan diskusi atau mengadakan kerja sama atas proyek-proyek fotografi tertentu, tapi kami juga memiliki pandangan kolektif yang hampir sama.

Ini adalah hal yang menurut saya berbahaya.

Bahaya yang muncul bukan karena kami akan saling mengamini satu sama lain, akan tetapi kami akan menjadi kelompok yang eksklusif; kelompok yang tidak mampu atau tidak tahu bagaimana caranya membuka ruang dialog dengan kelompok-kelompok yang memiliki pandangan lain, seperti kelompok dengan yang mengamini cuitan dari Arief, atau kelompok yang lebih dekat dengan seni rupa seperti Mes 56 atau Ruang Rupa.

Pendek kata, kami memiiki ruang diskursus yang produktif akan tetapi ruang diskursus tadi diisi oleh wajah yang lo lagi, lo lagi—suatu kondisi yang pada akhirnya saya takutkan akan memandegkan kreativitas kami.

Karya yang kaya dan berada di muka

Permasalahan pada cuitan Arief tentang karya yang dipamerkan adalah dia merasa bahwa sebuah karya fotografi terbatas oleh alat yang digunakan. Jika menggunakan pandangan yang sama, semua orang dapat menilai bahwa sebuah masakan itu enak atau tidak berdasarkan panci yang digunakan oleh pemasak. Pandangan Arief mengenai subyektivitas dalam fotografi masih bisa saya terima, tentu saja jika itu didukung dengan berbagai alasan yang mendalam. Sialnya, argumen Arief tidak memiliki itu semua.

Kesimpulan di atas saya ambil setelah saya melihat langsung pameran dan berbicara dengan para pembuat karyanya. Ini terjadi pada artist talk yang diadakan pada tanggal 2 April 2016, beberapa minggu setelah pameran dimulai, suatu keterlambatan menurut saya.

Dalam karya-karya yang dipamerkan, kota memiliki interpretasi yang tidak jelas. Pada karya Tommy dan Wilson, kota berarti sebagian dari Jakarta yang diambil dari satu bagian waktu dan lokasi. Di karya Asih dan Ista, berbagai kota menjadi sebuah backdrop untuk semua perasaan mereka sehingga identitas kota menjadi buram. Pada karya Riva, identitas kota bahkan lebih dibuyarkan lagi atau bahkan dianggap tidak begitu penting ketimbang subyek yang dibahas.

Saya tidak akan membahas semua karya ini secara mendalam karena pembicaraan ini akan menjadi sebuah pandangan subyektif. Saya merasa berbagai karya dalam pameran ini memiliki kekayaan masing-masing dengan berbagai catatan. Catatan yang pertama adalah tidak jelasnya definisi sebuah kota dalam pameran ini, dimana kota didefinisikan seluas-luasnya sebagai subyek, obyek, dan kadang hanya keterangan, padahal salah satu tujuan dari pameran ini adalah untuk menjawab berbagai permasalahan tentang kota. Kedua, tujuan lain dari pameran ini adalah untuk meningkatkan kesadaran (awareness) tentang fotojurnalisme dan foto essay di kalangan fotografer muda, akan tetapi pameran ini tidak memiliki kapasitas untuk mencapai itu, baik dari pemilihan tempat, terlambatnya artist talk, tidak adanya undangan atau kerjasama dengan komunitas mahasiswa/anak muda, sampai tidak adanya caption dalam foto-foto yang dipamerkan tidak menunjukkan ini sebagai karya jurnalistik. Ketiga, artist talk pada pameran ini terasa tidak lebih dari diskursus eksklusif di antara orang-orang yang telah lama saling kenal, sehingga tidak muncul tanya jawab yang kritis (saya telah mencoba mengundang Arief untuk datang ke artist talk, namun dia tidak datang entah kenapa). Keempat, hampir semua karya ini adalah karya yang dibuat dalam tempo waktu yang singkat (pengecualian pada karya Tommy); ada kesan terburu-buru dan ketidakjelasan apakah proyek-proyek ini akan berubah bentuk di kemudian hari.

Akhir dari rangkaian – gema yang distruptif

Pameran Me & My City harus saya katakan sebagai pameran yang memorable--tidak karena karya-karyanya karena masih banyak pekerjaan para fotografer untuk mencari bentuk akhir dari proyek mereka--tetapi karena efek yang ditimbulkannya. Gema yang distruptif ini berhasil mengganggu kami sebagai komunitas yang terasa eksklusif sekaligus membuka ruang dialog dengan berbagai pihak; baik  yang pro maupun kontra, dan dengan mereka yang sudah terlibat dalam industri ini sebelumnya.

Tulisan dari Ben & Rara, ulasan dari Homer, Halbet,  dan Aji, serta cuitan yang saling berbalas dari Agan Harahap dan Hikmat Darmawan adalah bukti betapa distruptifnya pameran ini dan diskusi yang dihasilkannya. Kita sudah banyak menghabiskan waktu untuk menjalankan diskusi, akan tetapi apa yang akan kita lakukan untuk menjalankannya? Tatanan normatif yang berada pada diskusi fotografi yang sudah-sudah mungkin sudah harus kita tinggalkan dan beralih ke diskusi yang menjangkau lebih banyak komunitas lain yang berbeda disiplin ilmu. Hal ini pernah saya lakukan dengan The Photobook Club dengan menjangkau Creative Mornings Jakarta. Saya harap mereka yang terlibat dalam diskusi ini pun melakukan hal yang sama, semudah-mudahnya agar mereka tidak mandeg dalam kreativitas kita dan mampu terhubung dengan apa yang mereka sebut dengan kekinian di jaman sekarang.

Yoppy Pieter and The Art of Documenting the Elusive

Added on by Ridzki Noviansyah.

17,000 islands of imagination. That’s the tagline of last year’s guest of honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair, Indonesia. The amount of islands correlates directly with the numbers of ethnic groups, languages, foods and eventually the cultures. In a very superficial manner, these different cultures can be presented and always be presented by showcasing different ethnic groups and their cultural properties. They will look distinctly different from one another, but that’s it.

Why then we always see this superficiality? This cliché? For starter Indonesia is a huge country, as an Indonesian myself, it would have been impossible for me to visit all of the islands in my life time. Someone (who clearly have too much time on their hand), have made a calculation and he stated that it would take a person 45 years to be able to visit each one of them. Indonesians are then presented with dilemmatic situation, we are blessed with so many cultures and yet there are very little that we can understand.

These tangible cultures come in many forms; food, dances, houses, dress, music and poem as well as the landscapes. They have been able to invite and lure people from all over the world to document it in various form of art; from painting to photographs, from novel to short stories and countless others. Among those, I will concentrate on photography, a medium that has allowed travel postcards, guidebooks and mass media to portray Indonesia as that great exotic country.

As part of our national identity, our government had tried to educate us regarding the Indonesian cultures, however they can only go as far to introduce us to the superficial or the cliché, or what I like to call the tangible cultures. Indonesian photographers who were brought up with Indonesian education, then could only photograph what they understood about the tangible Indonesian cultures. The booming of the economy post Reformasi also allow these Indonesians to become tourists in their own country. We visited exotic places, pointed our lenses to the locals and snapped some holiday pictures. These activities of documenting the tangible culture resulted in two things; first it expanded the collective archive of Indonesian culture; second, it granted-to a certain degree-a superficial pleasure of understanding one’s culture without understanding “it”. “It” would refer to the philosophical nature, the elusive aspect, the intangible form of a culture.

On Saujana Sumpu, Yoppy Pieter tried to document one of the most iconic Minangkabau culture, merantau. In a superficial sense the act of merantau means travel. The act is done by the male side of the Minangkabau society so they would be able to get experiences, knowledge, jobs and finally returning back to their village to get married and settle down.  

Merantau or migration is not foreign concept for Indonesians, there are even government program for that (transmigrasi) that put people from densely populated area to a less populated area. The program is usually take people from Java island to Borneo, Papua or Sumatra, where the government will give a piece of land and support them. While transmigrasi has its own problem, merantau also had one. What happened after a few generations, the males of Sumpu are no longer returning to their village, creating a population gap and problems such as the lack of productive younger population that can maintain the villages.                       

When I was first asked by Yoppy to edited this project, I jump right in without any hesitation in because he has been at that time have created various projects such as "Afterbirth" (at that time it was known as "Kelana") and "Half Breath Battle" but he never have a book project at the ready. The process began with two questions: “What do you want to convey?” and “How do you want to convey it?”. We have discussed the former, let’s talk about the latter.

Looking at the materials presented and available to us, there were two approaches that we can take when we sequence the book, the first is to approach it as a documentary product, sequencing the pictures by chronological order. The second approach, the one that we took, was by creating another layer of stories or narrative, where in this approach we have the following; a boy as the main protagonist, his family who are left behind, the crumbling villages and the villains.

The story started when the boy left the village, just as any other boy doing the merantau ritual. Time passed and the village, which are depleted of men (and women) were in constant danger from unseen forces. The boy finally returned to the village as a man, where he helped in restoring his crumbling village and bring peace. On the published version, this narrative is divided into three chapters; the first is where the boy left the village, the second is when the unseen danger lurks and the third is where the boy return. The final chapter also invited the inhabitant of Sumpu to return to the village where they have been born and raised, whether they have returned or not I have to yet ask Yoppy about this. 

Coming back to the topic of intangible culture, with this book Yoppy's not only presenting his ability as a photographer but also as a storyteller, where he has been able demonstrated to us flawlessly the method to document the elusive aspect Minangkabau culture. I am not entirely sure whether it would work with other cultures in Indonesia however by going to the superficial, knowing your approach and opening up to more creative ways, others too can create a body of work on Indonesian culture that’s beyond the cliché.

Here Comes 2016

Added on by Ridzki Noviansyah.

2015 ended yesterday, I always felt that one year passes too quickly, however this one ended especially quick. The year ended by leaving more questions than ever, some of which that I should have figured out earlier in life I suppose.

In 2015 I changed my career, if people ask me "why?" I'd probably answer like how George Mallory answered "because it's there". The next person will say I've done a 180 degree turn, where I would retort that I am just changing from driving a car to sailing in a boat. The career change gets me busy, to the extend that people said it changed my social life and personal life, but then have I really changed or I am just too good in controlling myself previously?

In between that I managed to pull through in helping to publish two photobooks, Saujana Sumpu by Yoppy Pieter and LAB by TFoTP Editorial team. Looking forward for more opportunities like this next year. I also write for a magazine, it was fun, waiting for the payment was not. Still more writing and editing is something that I hoped to do more often

As usual life made some unexpected turns, I made new friends, almost made some enemies. God, I hate making enemies, please don't ever do that to me. If I didn't talk to any of you, perhaps the status quo is better as compared to what could happen next, or at least that's what I like to believe in.

I also tried to fix a lot of mess, some of which couldn't be fixed and some of I can fixed. At the end of it, all of the problems left me tired and restless. I end up putting my hands and feet everywhere. In 2015, a quiet Sunday would only be a mirage, something that I desire however it's impossible to have.

This, I guess has been to put me in a lot of stress, to the extend I do no longer understand of what I want and what I need and whether I am living the life I wanted or somebody else's. I often find myself with a company of strangers who become friends and friends that almost become strangers. At its worse, I could looking up at the mirror at 3 AM, catching a glimpse of my eyes where the reflection said back to me "What the hell are you doing?" At its best? well I guess it has yet to come.

Amidst all that, I could still stand at Bundaran HI last night, where the fireworks goes off one after the other. I looked at the horizons and to the eyes of Krida, Fuad and Ayu and the rest of the people there. What I see is the glimmer of hope for 2016, then I figure out I gotta have some too. At the very least to keep me move forward.

So, Here comes 2016.

Lowlight Bazaar Vol. 8

Added on by Ridzki Noviansyah.

The latest Lowlight Bazaar Vol. 8 was held once again in Bara Futsal, Blok M. More variable tenants but most importantly the event has two exhibitions (one of them sell wet prints!) which highlight the importance of tangibility in photography. There's also our good friend from Unobtainium selling the ever amazing collection of photobooks.

Bara Futsal may not be the best place to conduct such events especially when it looked like kind of rundown but nonetheless the event still looking pretty attractive and strong even though it's the 8th edition. 

Will be looking forward for the 9th edition!

On Change

Added on by Ridzki Noviansyah.

Six years ago, I was just moving to Jakarta when suddenly my girlfriend at that time decided to have our relationship ended and she began to have another with one of my friend. So the circumstances surrounding me was not at all good, it wasn't the change that somebody expected to come when he/she move to another city. 

What happened next is history, my ex get married to my friend and here I am sitting by myself writing this, but I did learn one thing from the experience apart from I have a very high level of patience. I learned that change is always good, no matter what the outcome is. 

Change is always good because it moves you forward, it frees you from the status quo, expecting you to make mistake and amend for it. From there on forward that has always been my belief and one that I would like people to believe on as well. 

Now then, the question is would you jump into the waves of uncertainty and try to look your way or would you stay there in your comfort ?


Four People Sat in A Corner of A Park

Added on by Ridzki Noviansyah.

Four people sat in the corner of park, they were talking about their past, one of them is a female and the other three, male.

I happen to hear their old stories about debauchery, angst and misleading adventures. 

One of them looks like banker, One looked as he had never past his punk lives, One had hair too long for someone who works in an office and the female looked like she's in her thirties. 

They didn't notice me when I came and sat besides them. 

Four people sat in the corner of a park, they told stories of what they used to do and what they used to use. 

I happen to took notice while waiting for my food. 

One that never past his punk lives, told stories about the drugs and places while the other three adding in the details . 

He talked about Bengkel and E and other things that you need to grind and were not too kind. 

Four people sat in the corner of a park with cigarettes and phones at their table. 

I was still waiting for my food when they continued to tell stories about their good old times. 

One that look like a banker was telling stories about their mutual friend, who came home after living overseas for quite some time. He brought girls to his safe house and the banker pointed to the female saying "you were part of the crowd.". 

"I wasn't" she replied.

Four people sat in the corner of a park, these days they drank water instead of alcohol. 

My food finally come and I started to eat. Slowly.

One that look like a banker continued on, the same friend that brought girls home was finally caught up by his parents, a doctor. 

He end up transferred to India, probably starting another adventure there. 

Four people sat in the corner of a park, they were checking their phone instead of checking others out.

I ordered a drink and when it arrived the banker started to talk again. 

Now he talked about an ex of their mutual friend during high school, a 17 year old in an all-girls school. 

She shared a picture of her on a bikini to her ex' friends. Just to make him jealous. 

Four people sat in the corner of a park and they were getting ready to head back. 

The night still young I think, but probably age has crept up on them. 

The man with the long hair said to the female about her child who's turn 17. He reminded her that she shouldn't let her to drive alone at night and she agreed. 

Without any more comments they all stand up and left.

I sat alone on a corner of a park, thinking. 

Would I had the chance to talk about something like that when I grew old or would my luck ran out before I had the chance.  

Quo Vadis? What's Next After a Workshop?

Added on by Ridzki Noviansyah.

Few weeks ago I had the chance to attend the slideshow presentation from the participant of Suara Kota Tua photography workshop, mentored by Ben Laksana and Yoppy Pieter whom collaborated with Erasmus Huis for the slideshow presentation. As a bit of a background the workshop itself was done on 4-6 June 2015 and there are 12 participants in which all of them is below 25 years old. There are no published reason why this age group are selected however I'd like to believe that this is a initiative of the mentor to groom young talents. 


Now, photography workshop has been around in Indonesia for quite a while, it has been disguised in many names during many photography events, however it's almost difficult to find one that concentrated more than just technical aspects. Suara Kota Tua promises a refreshing change in that and also providing younger photographers an access to education that mostly reserved for photojournalists. 

The presentations on 6 June however, only deliver fractions of the promises. 

I think most people would agree that three days workshop is quite a tight schedule, however the students managed to cram within that schedule; the theory of storytelling, shooting and editing session, unfortunately they forgot to cram one important thing, how to deliver the presentation. Speaking about the output of the workshop could generally be divided into two groups: one is the one who tackles on personal issues, projecting their ideas on the setting of Kota Tua and making the project a very subjective matter. The second is trying portray Kota Tua and its inhabitant taking a more documentary approach. However, based on the presentation I have the impression that both groups of students consider themselves as agents of change by doing photography this presumably because the perceived role of photojournalism in the Indonesian society. 

The presentation went in a very hurried manner, as I said earlier there are lack of presentation preparation from the students, this leads to gaps and therefore questions from the audience. Unfortunately that Q& A session too was concluded quickly, leaving no room for ample discussions as the participant were leaving soon after the event ended. 

I, however manage to discuss the workshop with the mentors and have a talk about the process during workshop. It become apparent that the students comes with pre-determined subjective view, however with no agenda to the workshop. This proof to be unproductive because the circumstances didn't allow collaborations with the mentors and between the students in order to convey their ideas effectively. For me that kind of situation would mean that you lose the best chance to improve yourself for both the students and the mentors, you might not agree with what other thinks now but it never hurts to listen and collaborate for once.

That brings us to the question that I asked that night. What's next?

What's next for the participants and what's next for the workshop? I do believe that Suara Kota Tua serves as an important beginning for both and I really want to see improvement of the participant as well as the workshop model, however I didn't get the chance to get all the answers during and after the session. For that, I can only wish that they won't stumble, fall and contributing to-what Martin Parr said-in ongoing mediocrity of photography, as we had enough people doing that.

Six Years of Experience.

Added on by Ridzki Noviansyah.

What does six years of experience give you?

For me it gives a very thorough view of how everything should be managed from start to finish, if there's an error somewhere I'll try to fix the problem and looking for ways that it will not happen anymore, in a short form I'd do a CAPA on it. That habit of doing root cause analysis of every problem and trying to understand what causes the problem, looking for corrective and preventive actions has been ingrained to me so  much, that I had a hard time to believe that there are somebody out there who didn't understand that this is how you should live your life, by moving forward, making mistakes, correcting it and moving forward again, often this view would leads up to countless arguments where I try to explain the necessity of having that kind of viewpoint. 

That's one. 

Another skills that I acquired is to read doctor's handwriting, and you all probably know how doctor's handwriting would look like don't you? Speaking of writing, I also acquired the skills of writing concise report in a non-prosaic ways, as simple as possible so that I could explain to diverse kind of people whatever shit that I have encountered, this creates trouble especially when I am writing a post like this where would need all the vocabularies that existed would still engage the readers (if there's one). This is probably the one skill that I need to learn more, how to engage your reader and becoming more interesting writer. 

What else? Six years of experience also gives me a knowledge of how a system works, however in this ever changing world that doesn't mean a single thing, a change in the system could happen in an instant and all I can do is just to follow it and try to figure out what will work and what doesn't. It also give me a great insight on how to deal with various people and bureaucrats, across culture and places, it gives me some understanding on why I should take two steps back in order to move three steps forward and finally it gives me that sense, that particular sense that allows me to understand the situation by analysing people's behaviour, their tone, expression, choice of words. 

The six years gives me the knowledge that I need to navigate in the world, however, it doesn't give me the direction of where I want to go. 

I recall I was getting tired on my fourth leading to fifth year (or was it fifth leading to sixth?) headhunters would call me and asking whether I was interested in working in so and so in the same position that I had that day, I remember telling them as well that I was in the verge of losing my interest, I didn't interested in doing the same and was keen on trying on a different industry. There are plenty of experience that I gained outside of my jobs description and I was optimistic that with enough training I'll be able to catch up, learn and understand about jobs in different industry works. None come back to me. 

Funny thing about how the universe works though, you don't know whether when is the right time to do anything. You could strike at a very precise time that you have measured and still you end up failing or you could only wait and suddenly it'll come to you. For me it was the case of the latter, it's not that I wasn't looking for any opportunity, but like I said none seems to have worked out, until some part time gig would lead to job applications and then two interviews and one written test later here I am worlds apart from what I used to do for a  living, with me and other colleagues still scratching our head coming with the questions what the hell does a medical bioscientist graduates doing in communications?

Six years of experience gives me the understanding to navigate life, outside of that I tried to nurture my own interests in which I believe everybody should be doing. I pursue a creative endeavour, however small it is, I try to meet up with new people and it's a bonus if I could do it in a communal activity and last but not least I try to keep an open mind, always learning and always try to improve. I am pretty lucky that I could try and work outside of the industry that I have been involved for the past six years, however what I have learned is not only a means to get that, but ones that I need to understand life. 

Here's to another years and years ahead.

Galau dan Perkara Krisis Seperempat Abad.

Added on by Ridzki Noviansyah.

Datangnya memang perlahan namun teman-teman saya yang seumur atau hanya berbeda beberapa tahun mulai mengeluhkan, atau tepatnya menceritakan kegalauannya kepada saya. Perihal galaunya sih bukan perkara kenapa mereka menjomblo atau kapan bisa membahagiakan pasangannya (kalau ada) dengan jadi mapan (kalau mampu). Tapi dari sependengaran dan hasil diskusi, mereka galau karena mereka belum mencapai apa-apa padahal umur sudah hampir sampai ke 30, sekiranya hidup adalah cuma perputaran banalitas setelah banalitas dalam bentuk rutinitas yang sialnya harus dikerjakan kalau kita mau terus hidup. Singkat kata teman-teman saya ini kena isu psikologis kronis dan hip, krisis seperempat abad.

Padahal kalau mau dipikir-pikir, teman-teman saya ini (dan mungkin kalian juga), seharusnya ga perlu kena krisis psikologis ini, saya ambil contoh, si B misalnya dia punya pacar musisi indie wanita berbakat (menurut seorang selebtwit, kecantikannya pun absolut) dan si B pun baru saja menyelesaikan pendidikan pascasarjana di luar negeri dengan dapat beasiswa. Yang satu lagi pegawai perpajakan,R, entah eselon berapa, dan tidak jelas juga apa dia penyelenggara negara bukan (tapi yang pasti bukan penegak hukum), dia baru saja dipromosikan dan mau bikin buku dan dari respon orang-orang sih nampaknya akan laku keras. Yang terakhir K, teman saya ini tinggal di Yogyakarta, pengamat dan pemerhati fotografi yang pandangannya didengar bagi mereka yang masih junior dan sudah senior sekalipun dan pencapaian personalnya pun sudah banyak.  Singkat kata sebenarnya isu psikologis krisis ini dari pandangan saya itu ga mungkin-mungkin banget buat mereka ini.

Tapi ya namanya manusia pasti penasaran, dan karena saya jarang ketemu mereka, maka saya cuma mencoba mengerti mereka karena dulu pun rasanya saya juga pernah kena krisis ini, Jadi inilah kesimpulan saya mudah-mudahan bisa diterima:

Sebagai manusia yang lahir ditahun 80an kami adalah generasi yang bisa dibilang turunan langsung baby-boomers, kakek-nenek kami hidup dimana kompeni masih ada, bapak ibu kami hidup dimana republik bergejolak, sementara kami lahir pada kondisi nyaman, tidak tahu pasal 1965, terlalu kecil saat 98 terjadi. Masa kecil kami dipenuhi dengan pandangan-pandangan tentang cita-cita dan hidup mapan yang diberi dari sekolah-sekolah, seperti menjadi dokter, pilot atau polisi. Keadaan itu diperparah dengan sedari kecil kami sudah diberi-tahu bahwa ya kamu mesti bisa mencapai itu semua dengan kerja keras, berdoa dan berharap menang lotre. Fast forward ke umur yang sekarang baru kami sadar hidup kami tak seindah kata-kata motivasi dari tumblr, feed #instaceleb yang baru pulang dari liburan di Maldaif atau seperti ketika kami sekolah dulu dan setelah kerja keras, berdoa dan beli lotre, bukannya kami yang makin kaya tapi malah rekening gendut orang lain yang bertambah.  Kombinasi ini dan ditambah dengan kemampuan internet yang mengijinkan kita mengintip kehidupan orang lain yang nampaknya selalu baik dan indah, menjadikan krisis yang seharusnya muncul ketika paruh baya, tiba-tiba muncul ke orang-orang yang masih muda.

Lah lantas bagaimana mengatasi krisisnya?

Sebagai orang yang cuma bisa ngomong macam Mario Teguh, saya sih cuma bisa kasih saran begini; persetan orang lain mau ngapain, kalaupun pencapaian kamu tidak bisa sebesar Arman Dhani dan Gus Mul paling tidak kalau kamu bisa 10% lebih baik dari diri kamu 1 tahun yang lalu itu cukup. Oh dan satu lagi, berbanggalah kalau kamu galaunya bukan gara-gara kamu menjomblo, paling ga kamu termasuk golongan orang-orang yang galaunya non mainstream. Kalau kamu galaunya gara-gara menjomblo, ya saya angkat tangan, karena memang jodoh itu di tangan Tuhan.

A Cambodian Affair

Added on by Ridzki Noviansyah.

Back then in 2011 or 2010, I made a promise to myself, I won't be visiting Siem Reap, Cambodia before I got accepted into the Angkor Photo Workshop, a promise that I held until recently. I still haven't got accepted however I do get the opportunity to present some Indonesian photobooks during the festival, which report can be read here

But enough about photography, I wanted to talk about how idea of travel have shifted for me and probably for others too. I felt that there is no longer travel for travel sake, to get lost in a culture or a city and to soak yourself in it, a travel for me would only consisted for work, for others might be an medium of self expression on a social media. 

Prior to the travel, I remembered hearing stories of Cambodia from my friend, they often refer to the majestic history of the temple and how the king's name was similar to the name of the king in Indonesian history. Another point is how the country uses USD and Cambodian Riel as their main currencies and if you're stuck with lots of Riel at the end of your travel, then good luck, it had no values outside of the country. 

I was also expecting dirt roads, temples, a few bars here and there, prostitutes and of course the French, in short I was expecting a bit more Luang Prabang vibe. When I arrived I could swear I thought I was on a trip to Bali. 

Gone are the dusty dirt road (there's dusty asphalt road though) and multiply the rest and add in the Australians, the Americans, the Chinese, the Japanese and the Spanish and there you have it, Siem Reap, that one place to go if you want to see the sunrise on that Lara Croft temple. 

There's a bit of a relief on my part I suppose, knowing that I didn't missed the experience of travelling much. It has been made similar with all of this globalisation, the tour groups and the backpackers has been made sure that they would have the exact same experiences, the exact same sunrise and the same souvenir, it's just one must pay more Dollar or Riel than the others. 

So stuck with this pseudo Bali experience, I can only try to explore, although the term of exploration is a bit misleading as there's nothing new under the sun. But it always interesting about what I could find in a travel guide especially regarding a place with less information on it. I don't bring my lonely planet and their website is a pain to navigate, plus I am not sure whether it is being updated all the times, so I browsed travelfish, and there I found out about Kyung Yu, a Cambodian fun fair. 

"To get lost in a culture or a city and to soak yourself in it", I wrote that in the beginning but gradually after staying in Siem Reap for a few days, I realised that the one which prevent me from travelling and exploring the unknown was the myself. Work, money and comfort are all excuses that I use to justify the lack of travel that I did, I almost didn't go to Kyung Yu because it was after the rain and I didn't exactly know the place. It was only when a friend reminded me so I decide to cycle to search for the place, where the only guide I have is vaguely written as

"If you’re heading from Siem Reap to the funfair, take the road to Angkor Wat, and at Kantha Bopha Hospital take a right down 60 Metre Road where there is a photoshop on the corner. Continue straight until you see the bright lights!"

I didn't see any bright lights, I didn't see any photoshop, all I see are wide open roads, with Cambodians eating on the side and pretty girls wearing nice clothes riding motorcycles. So I decided that the best thing is to do is of course to follow the pretty girls, at least they're dressing up to go somewhere.

And then lo and behold, there it is; the bright lights, the playground and the rides. 

I took my time there, observing and photographing, trying to make sense of the place, trying to get lost and getting soaked. In which I successfully did and I am glad that I did it. I realised that I only need a bit of a kick, a reminder even, to get to travel. Truly comfort is one of the biggest human vice, it makes us lazy and detaches us with the reality, deceiving us, making us think that after what we've done we deserve it.

I photograph the place as a reminder, where somewhere away from the epicenter of comfort, there's always something to be discovered, if you want to, if you're willing enough to get lost and to get soaked and most importantly if you're willing to let go of that comfort. 

Here's to great 2015, may we all be blessed, be able to travel, get lost and able to learn something new.



Lili and Handoko Maternity Shoot

Added on by Ridzki Noviansyah.

This was done in August 2014, I have been shooting the couple since their baby shower and we're pretty close friends (Lili is an ex-colleague at work). The shoot itself started rather late and we have like 5 costumes to go through, which means there're really little room for error, to add there were no survey of the location as well so we were working as we go. Luckily we can pull it off altogether. 

Lili Handoko Maternity Shoot_lowres11.JPG

Kembali Menjadi Skeptis

Added on by Ridzki Noviansyah.

Akhirnya setelah 15 tahun saya memilih menjadi seorang golongan putih, saya akhirnya turun tangan mengikuti pemilihan presiden 9 Juli kemarin. Banyak sekali alasan yang bisa saya utarakan kenapa saya mengikutinya namun yang paling utama adalah karena saya tidak menginginkan pengorbanan 16 tahun yang lalu menjadi sia-sia. Menurut saya reformasi harus lepas landas, dan kita tidak lagi dapat menggantungkan diri kepada kekuatan-kekuatan lama yang memang sudah bercokol. Sialnya salah satu kekuatan lama itu melekat di diri salah satu calon presiden yang semakin lama menjadi semakin kuat.

Malam ini akhirnya perjuangan orang-orang yang mungkin sepemikiran dengan saya mencapai puncaknya, KPU sudah menentukan siapakah pemenang dalam pemilihan presiden kali ini, yang jika tidak ada rintangan maka Joko Widodo akan dilantik sebagai presiden terpilih pada Oktober mendatang. 

Malam ini pula saya merasa saya harus kembali menjadi seorang yang skeptis, dan ini bukan karena saya menyesal. 

Saya skeptis karena saya dididik untuk menjadi seperti itu, saya hanya bisa percaya dengan melihat bukti-bukti dan fakta-fakta yang bisa dikonfirmasi untuk membuat saya percaya. Sekarang, Joko Widodo harus membuktikannya kepada Republik ini bahwa dia pantas untuk terpilih dan untuk bekerja sebagai Presiden. 

Skeptisisme menurut saya juga adalah sebuah cara untuk mengontrol pemerintahan. Dengan menjadi skeptis  saya menahan diri untuk tidak menjadi terbutakan dengan segala kata-kata atau manifesto yang sudah dikeluarkan. Lebih lanjut skeptisisme adalah awal mula untuk memastikan bahwa Pemerintah tetap berada pada jalurnya, menjalankan kewajibannya dan tentu saja memenuhi setiap hak warga negara ini tanpa terkecuali.  

Karena kontrol atas pemerintahan tentu saja tidak hanya berada pada tangan trias politica, tetapi juga pada rakyat yang telah memberi mereka mandat. Terutama setelah adanya beberapa kebijakan-kebijakan pemerintahan terbuka sekarang ini, dan Ini adalah bentuk paling sederhana dalam kehidupan berpolitik dalam keseharian kita. Tetapi tentu saja, seperti halnya apapun di dunia ini, skeptitisme perlu diberi porsi yang cukup, rakyat tidak hanya harus mempertanyakan tetapi juga harus mempelajari dan terus belajar mengenai kebijakan-kebijakan pemerintah mereka. 

Selamat untuk Joko Widodo dan Jusuf Kalla, kami mengawasimu dari sekarang.