The fourth edition of Jakarta International Photo Festival (JIPFest) returns to Blok M with ‘Generation’ as their curatorial thread, an attempt to shed light on intergenerational stories and how the growing youth demographic has responded to today’s cultural and political landscape. Spread within walking distance, each of the three exhibition stops from Mall Blok M, Kala Karya Gallery at Kala di Kalijaga to M Bloc Creative Hall offers different focus and themes that complement the festival as a whole.
Following last year’s public installation in Taman Langsat, this year’s highlight is the takeover of Mal Blok M as their main venue. The exhibition curated by Asep Topan, Bas Vroege and Ng Swan Ti has given life to the shopping centre’s empty underground space, gathering a total of 24 photographic and moving image works from 13 different countries—a vast and fulfilling lineup for thorough visitors who would like to absorb every work properly.
Among the significant works in the space is ‘20/70: Two-fold Story’ by Adrian Mulya, a gentle exchange of stories between the ageing women who survived the 1965 communist purge and the young volunteers who assisted their daily lives. A much more personal expression is presented in ‘Dance for No Reason’ by Gaia Squarci from Italy through the heartwarming everyday shots of her parents. Meanwhile, in a room full of careful compositions and techniques, ‘Visa to the Final’ by Victoria Chaushyan from Russia stands out with amateur pictures of mundane groceries taken by Chaushyan’s father. Through records of their phone conversation, the work gives a glimpse into their relationship and his humorous attempts to win a ticket to the World Cup finals, showing onlookers another way to enjoy a work beyond the quality of an image.
Cristian Rahardiansyah, Festival Director of JIPFest, observes a common thread from the works displayed in the festival. “Personal narratives like familial tensions and mental health are getting more common in the photography world, and in our exhibition as well. We’ve also been seeing creative explorations that translate works of photography into new experiences in the exhibition space,” he shared.
At Kala Karya, one of the Fringe programmes ‘Suara Orang Muda: Demokrasi Hari Ini’, ten young photographers, all between 17-25 years old, find their own meaning of democracy, as curated by photojournalist Rosa Panggabean. With a personal approach, each work lends a human side to the complex situations currently faced by the young generation, from tensions in racial, religious and sexual differences to criminal injustice, while still retaining a hopeful note. Through his series of photographs ‘Kami yang Tak Sama’, Humaidy Aditya Kenedy dissects the lives of an unmarried couple who lives together, unable to proceed to marriage due to the national justice system that doesn’t recognise interfaith marriage. In another room, ‘The Ballad of Freedom (And All the Things Within)’ by Husna Nur Ainun S takes a closer look at how young queer persons in the city express themselves through fashion—presented in a fittingly colourful display.
As a part of JIPFest, the second edition of Indonesia Photo Fair (IPF) sets turf at M Bloc Space’s Creative Hall with works ranging from household names like Davy Linggar and Vicky Tanzil to fresh faces in the industry. At the fair, photo books also gathered a lot of curiosity for their affordable price, tangibility, as well as elevated craftsmanship in terms of design, material and binding techniques. Some visitors might even come into intricate, handmade photo books, like ‘Kuning’ by Naztia Haryanti, a visual journal about her drug-user father, that sports a textured bright yellow cover formed by strips of duct tape.
Through myriad forms and approaches, the works at JIPFest trace the line between personal encounters and the current social context to zero in on their main theme. Photography has always been a bridge between generations—from encounters of our grandparents’ yellowing holiday snapshots to struggles of teaching them to use the latest phone cameras, it emphasises the stark difference between us, yet also a constant attempt to understand each other. Ultimately, the exhibition serves as a middle ground for different generations to do the same, giving visitors a much-needed space to reflect on how we should all proceed going into the future.
JIPFest 2023 runs from 8 to 24 September 2023. Visit https://jipfest.com/ for more information.