IB Putra Adnyana (1958)


"Hati - Hati"


In The Oberoi Hotel, Bali.

From 09 December to 09 January, 2017.




The important question that still becomes a debate along the history of thought and art and technology is where the position of photography is? Since it was invented in 1839 by Niépce, within few years photography entered the Dutch Indies in 1841. Photography expand to Center of Java with a main purpose, “To compile the representation of photographic of various important landscape, plants, and others object of nature,” Frietag wrote.

Since that moment, as if that photography was officially announced as the medium of documentation. Photographer was only positioned as the operator behind “a new machine” named camera. As the operator, they never seriously were paying attention about having the skill of making a shoot, setting the light, and the aesthetic sensitivity. Moreover during the period when photography met the industry of journalistic, it still was considered as the part of illustrative documentation. Photographer was not considered as a journalist, they existed just as a complement in the chain system of mass media. Ironically, this practice was as if inaugurated when television journalism strongly sounded in this country, since the early of 1990. The position of cameramen was not more than a recorder. Technology only needs someone who knows how to operate it. It was not necessary to get people who have aesthetic sensitivity, moreover humanity.
Photography in Bali still existed until colonialism came to this small island. There were W.O.J. Nieuwenkamp and Gregor Krause, the first artists who explored Bali. Particularly, A German doctor, Gregor Krause, got a position in charge at Dutch medical department in Bali, during 1912 and 1914. Krause then published one album consisted of 400 images about Bali, especially the woman, in 1920. His pictures then attracted more and more East exotic lover to come, such as Miguel Covarrubias (Mexico), Vicky Baum (Austria), K’tut Tantri or Muriel Stuart Walker (America), including artist Rudolf Bonnet (Netherland), Walter Spies (German), Antonio Blanco (Spain), and Arie Smit (Netherland).
In contemporary photography, now we have Ida Bagus Putra Adnyana, better known as Gustra, who began his career studying law, then actively involved in photography as the aesthetic language to express the reality and to communicate with public. What interesting is Gustra, his popular name, were not studying journalistic, the place where usually the critical thinking is built. He started his life by being a cameraman; he got the motivation after seeing his father, Ida Bagus Raka, as a tour guide in 1970. When guiding, his father often saw the tourist put their camera around their neck. Gustra even still remembers some names, such as Vogelgang, a cameraman from German, and a photographer from Thailand, Tom Chuwie Wat.
In 1972, his grandfather gave him a gift, a plastic camera. In 1978, he began to go around Bali to take pictures; he even printed and spread them out into postcards. Since that moment, photographer became his life choice, quite brave decision, considering that until 1990, the Balinese people still liked to be spoiled. They simply thought a profession is only about being a government officers, such as teacher, doctor, and police. For common people, they could not expect to get a good job as government official if they don’t have any connection. Even, people believed that the positions such as head of regency or district were only for those who have a high caste.
Having a job as photographer, journalist, and even a tour guide, until 1990, were considered as a wrong step, because those three jobs would not lead people to the brighter future. During his early year became a photographer, Gustra against the myths about that profession. He tried to prove by always bring came everywhere and then sold his pictures as a post card or aesthetic images for a foreign publisher. He focused on this profession until the next 30 years.
During the last 30 years, Gustra has proved that he keeps moving forward to search for any possibility of visual language. Perhaps now photography is only a small part of his complex process of creativity. He did a very valuable contribution for art, that photographer is not the same as cameramen, the operator behind the machine, visual technology.
In the work of journalistic, photographer is not only the person who takes a picture. Photographer had been go far beyond, entering the life of art, with many possibility to create unbelievable visual. Gustra is one of the photographers who brave enough to clear out the entire old stigma about photographer.


Putu Fajar Arcana
(Editor of art and culture, Kompas Minggu, and the curator of Bentara Budaya)


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