Artists: Adytama Pranada (Indonesia), Risang Yuwono (Indonesia), Helen Marshal (UK), Dow Wasiksiri (Thailand), Yee I-Lann (Malaysia), Samsul Alam Helal, and the Collection of Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam (The Netherlands)
Curated by Alexander Supartono (Indonesia/UK). Co-programmed by NGCA with North East Photography Network.
This ongoing exhibition project examines the extent to which the photostudio practices that developed in the colonial era have influenced practices in the post-colonial era. Towards this end, historical archival imagery from the colonial period has been juxtaposed with postcolonial photographic propositions, which directly or indirectly appropriate or subvert colonial photographic mannerisms, patterns and commonplaces.
Bringing together historical material and contemporary photographic work by six photographic artists from the UK, The Netherlands, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Bangladesh, this exhibition examines how colonial photographic studio techniques and practices continue to influence the world of images in what is often described as a 'post-colonial' age. The historical photographic material in this exhibition reflects the political, economic and social conditions of colonial relations in the former Dutch colonies. The series of 'Surinamese Inhabitants, Singkep Tin Company' and 'A Javenese Gandrung Dancer' represent the advanced stage of colonial photostudio practices and how such photographs were to illustrate the economic and cultural developments in colonial Surinam and Indonesia.
The contemporary photographers showcased in this exhibition provide critical interpretations of the stereotypical (post) colonial photographic practices in national history and culture. Yee I-Lann's 'Study of Lamprey's Malayan Male' is a deliberately blunt response to the claims to 'truth' of colonial photography. Working in the manner of itinerant photographers of the previous century by photographing random shoppers 'al fresco' against a make-shift backdrop, Dow Wasiksiri investigates local trends and fashions in 'The Fashion in Kad Luang Market' in Thailand. Whilst in 'Conversation with the Past', the artist re-inhabits the past, symbolically embedding colonial representations and their politics into contemporary everyday life. Equally performative, Adytama Pranada's 'Truth Enlightens' endeavors to reclaim the past by animating colonial material upon his own body. The 'offstage' portrait series of the last remaining Javanese traditional theatre troupe members in Helen Marshall and Risang Yuwono's series 'Project Tobong' reiterate, literally and metaphorically, their long-forgotten existence. Lastly, Samsul Alam Helal's 'Love Studio' provides a stage for those who want to perform their dreams.
Dow Wasiksiri, 'Choose Your History', 2013