Recollecting Memories: Tukang Foto Keliling (Itinerant Photographer)


Wijaya Hotel - Yogyakarta
Group Exhibition, 2014

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Exhibition view

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"At the end of 2013, I initiated a project titled "Recollecting Memories: Tukang Foto Keliling (Itinerant Photographer).This on-going project is a research based art project that focuses on tracking the practices of tourism photography in Kaliurang. Kaliurang is a tourism area located at the slope of Mount Merapi, Yogyakarta (Indonesia). Before the Merapi eruption in 1994, this resort area was very popular an then it gradually considered obsolete and the reputation fade away as tourist resort.

In this project, I invite an informal group of itinerant photographer who was active aroun 1981 - 2005 in Kaliurang. Tracing the history of photography practices conducted by this anonymous group will not only give an overview of photography from the economic aspects of tourism, but also capable of becoming the pathway to learn about the history of region, the social relations between the local and the newcomers, and the political power play over the economic practices.

This project began with a research about the photo archives as well as memory of tourism photographic practices according to these photographers. This study will be followed by a retrospective exhibition of photography group that will show their photo archives that have never been shown before. The research is expected to give an overview of the history of tourism photography practice in the region and also the political power that works in the realm of photography during the New Order.

I believe that photographers are not just using the camera as a medium for recording; but also uses himself as a recording medium. departing from the exhibition that is to be helad first, I will conduct a forum as an attempt to bring up the collective memory of the group, the practices photography, the way they live, as well as other personal and national histories. The second thing is to use it as part of the development of this project to the subsequent forms. This project is organic and open up a range of possibilities for development in the various forms. At the moment, my respond to this observation is by creating two tourism photography account @wisataselfie and @wisatatagar (along with the hastag #wisataselfie and #wisatatagar).

Based on my observation, until a few years ago, the practice of tourism photography almost always involves three elements all at once; namely, the tourists (people who is photographed), photographers (the person who take the photo), and the landscape. The role of the tourist itinerant photographers then reduced with the development of technology that makes the modern camera easier to carry, operate, and also economical. Right now, the practice of tourism photography has expanded to its practice in social media.  

In this account, @wisataselfie, I made an appropriation to tourists’ self-portrait. I prefer to 'recycle' tourist self-portraits that are uploaded publicly to the Instagram. I replace the process of photographing with the process of 'screen grabs' and re-publish it using @wisataselfie as a regramming account. Wisataselfie (Travel Selfie) is the account I made to document selfie pictures that were taken in various tourist spots in Indonesia. This account is used to regram tourist self-portrait that were found based on popular hastag search; such as, #wisata, #wisataindonesia, #wisatanusantara, and others.

In @wisatatagar, I try to continuously reposting photos that show different hashtags. The function in most Instagram hashtags nowadays is still surrounded by the conversation of categorization efforts; but at the same time, its use tends to be descriptive. Sometime it is not only explaining what is shown in the photo, but also describing things that are not visible in the photograph. The use of a very descriptive hash tag does not only serves as additional information but also becoming a kind of photography itself (unphotographed photography). Each hashtag summons the memory of experiences and synchronize it to every word that appears as the hashtag. The perspective of the photo displayed, which is deliberately not show specific landmarks on an area, will then be changed or distorted by the emergence of memories that called for the present hashtag."