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.