FAMILY PORTRAIT PROJECT, PULOSARI, BANDUNG

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I work with Pulosari community in Bandung in Indonesia since 2012. This is one of the squatter communities, which can be found in the city, located on the riverside of Cikapundung. The area is only a few minutes away from the trendy part of the city, where shopping malls, parks and universities are situated. This is the reason of the lifestyle clash. Poor area is confronted with the new consumptive customs, which makes it visibly excluded in terms of economy, lack of education and way of living.

I am a photographer and a filmmaker and through these media I connect with the community. Art-making process is a result of our long-term mutual relation. At first I contributed to the Pulosari by my input in the social life of the community. I became a photographer for important celebrations like youth community’s events and birthday parties. I also worked on a construction site of a new football field. After we have gained mutual trust and sense of understanding I moved to the community to live with them for 3 months. As a result of our 3-years-long cooperation in 2015 I realized the “Family portrait” art project.

In my work I photograph the families of Pulosari community. “Family portrait” series show happy families connected by strong love bounds. Family is a basic unit of society and local community  and as such should be strengthened and included in social discourse. In my works I do not directly talk about social issues. I show smiling faces and the happiness of being with beloved people. I am glad I can document cheerful moments of the households and show them to my audience. I always exhibit my work in the Pulosari community. I want my public to come to the area and take a different perspective on the life of the people living in the neighborhood. The final exhibition becomes a meeting point for inhabitants of Pulosari and representatives of the art world.

Pulosari community is present on every step of art-making process. Their acceptance has allowed me to realize the project, which has become important for the inhabitants of the area. The community is allowed me to visit their houses and families and also attending their meetings. During my stay in one of the family in Pulosari area I observed about how they lived, where the people hang out, and all other details. Youth community on the Pulosari area help me a lot during the artwork installation process, they picked the place where I should display the family portrait photos. On the display process mostly people are gathered and help, on that moment I realized that the existence of an artwork is decided not only by the will of the artist but also the will of the community. The artwork itself is owned by the community, because they think that their become the part of the process. They become the guide when people want to see the artwork, and they also guarded the artwork during the exhibition without me asking about it.

The community now realized that art can be really close with them not just like they thinking before that art is only belong to certain people and should be at the gallery. Some of the youth now also realized the new way of making artwork from the daily life medium such as paper and glue. During the exhibitions there are a lot of journalist came to visit and do the interview with me or the community, mostly the connected my artwork with the data about social problem in that area. Through their writings the awareness about the exclusion is started to build, and also now there are a few other artist or group are having an idea of making an art project on Pulosari. In order to impact larger social context we need to do more project so other people and the government will realize the urgency, my project itself is only a trigger for another new project. 

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