Monday, December 24, 2007

no silent night

informal service

There are different ways to look at economies. First, there are market and non-market economies. The latter are subsistence economies. These economies produce for there own consumption (thus: producer and consumer are the same). A few chickens in the backyard or a small plot of paddy field characterize such an economy. A market economy can be divided into the formal and the informal market economy. Legally defined property rights characterize the formal market economy so that market exchanges are taxable by the state. Of course, there is overlap between the formal and informal sectors. The formal sector can be informally taxed, this is usually called extortion though and this is how the mafia got big. The informal market economy is also called the black market. The informal sector is on the other hand more flexible. In Indonesian cities one can find posters all around on which services are offered: your sofa can be cleaned, you can learn Korean, you can borrow money, you can hire a maid or a car, you can make posters or banners. The Jakarta based artists collective Ruang Rupa makes fun of this by making their own poster. Ruang Rupa offers a course on how to become a thief (maling) and the teacher can come to your home.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

sans papiers...

Since March the fifth, 2003, I have been in Indonesia. The last time I had Dutch soil under my feet was according to my passport a thousand and forty days ago.
Did I somewhere cross a line without noticing it? In the past few years I collected dozens of pages filled with stamps, signatures and corrections thereupon from various state officials.
Did I somehow become an émigré without ever making that decision? Expatriated?
I start to feel at home here though. Indonesia is nesting underneath my skin – the dust, the dirt, the heat, the jams, the noise – the thrills for me, the urban junkie. It has been and surely still is a valuable lesson in slow living.
My present visa is valid until October 4, 2008. My passport, though, expires January 10, 2008. So I need a new travel document – even though I do not move beyond any country borders.
So I went to the Dutch consulate in Jakarta to apply for a new passport. But my application was rejected. The pass photos I presented together with the application were considered to be of the wrong size. Apparently, the face on these photos was too small with one (sic!) millimeter.
I guess I have gotten used to Indonesian pragmatism…My initial response: where can I apply for Indonesian citizenship?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Why do people go on vacation? To get a visa and a ticket, to pack some stuff and fly many hours with many others to the other side of the globe to spend a few nights in a bed other people already used over and over again. No matter how luxurious a hotel is, if you can afford such a hotel you have a home that is more luxurious. Period.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


These are two works by studio photographer Koos Breukel, these two photos are published in the book Photo Studio Koos Breukel. For more info on Koos Breukel see here.

Photographing as Hunting

This is a photo by Paul Kooiker from the series Hunting and Fishing. For more information on Paul Kooiker see here.

An American kiss

A photograph by Weegee (1899-1969), pseudonym for Arthur Fellig.


Using his craftsmanship and patience Rogier Fokke is able to make very strong portraits. These two photos are part of a series on Gipsies, this series is published in the book ‘Paramisa’. A decade ago I did a portrait workshop with Rogier Fokke. (For more info on Rogier Fokke’s work see here.)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Common Sense

British photographer Martin Parr says: “With photography, I like to create fiction out of reality. I try and do this by taking society's natural prejudice and giving this a twist.” (For more info see here and here.)

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The middle finger

The Indonesian police, like other Indonesian state institutions, likes to communicate through banners, posters, and murals. Police communication through murals is in fact a contradictio in terminis. Urban art – as graffiti is – is per definition anarchist in nature, it comes and goes. See here for a Jakarta Post article on police murals, unfortunately online the photos are not available. The inappropriate choice of medium makes communication impossible.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The mural of murals

Iweng decided to make a mural in Bandung. Not just any mural, but the mural of murals: he is painting the pillars of a fly-over. In part two of this gigantic project he is going to paint the ceiling as well. Anyway, until he runs out of money of course.

Friday, October 12, 2007

A city and its stories

This week I returned to Semarang for a few days vacationing. It was good to be back, despite the scorching heat – up to 37 degrees Celsius. I met people I photographed when I did my artist-in-residency at Rumah Seni Yaitu last summer. Some of them wondered where I disappeared to all of a sudden… Next month I will return to open my solo exhibition at Rumah Seni Yaitu November 9.