One of the highlight for Unobtainium bookstore last year is publishing Coming Home by Tandia Bambang Permadi. We felt the project is strong and should be interesting for our local Indonesian market, of course it turns out are wrong, since the book doesn’t sell that well and one third of the sales goes overseas. Though last month there’s another good news related to the book, that it is selected as one of the shortlisted books at 2018 Author Book Award at Rencontre d’Arles. We understand that it is a shortlist featuring 60+ titles, but the fact is it is very cool for us as that is the first book we published. Congratulations and thank you Tandia, Ferry, and Irfan to make it happen.
We posted this previously on Instagram but since Instagram is so “currently happening” it made it hard to be browsed. Reposting it here so it should be easier to found.
Q: Tandia, you have worked on this particular project “Coming Home” since about 6-7 years ago I believed. I remembered that you printed some of the earlier photos in our darkroom. Which back then, I remembered, it is quite a departure from your previous work or photographic interest. Can you tell me what triggered you to work on this project and what has sustained you to work on it since so long?
Tandia: Yeah, man. 7 years to be exact. It’s crazy, to hear it from someone else, since I kinda got lost track in time about this. Well It never intended to be this long time project at the first place. I just need to run away for awhile from my daily routine and all money-making venture I had been doing at that time. As you notice yourself I just started to do photography, so the idea of going somewhere far kinda excited me as “new photographer”, especially to a place I was born and where I grew up. So somehow this going back home trip felt sentimental to me. The memory of the people and the place I encountered, it is like to breathe fresh morning mountain air for people who lives in a big modern city, man.
Q: So it is retracing memories for you. I understand you used a unique approach to do this project, with the flash and going in people’s home without being invited, how was the feedback from your subjects? And how it shaped the work itself?
Tandia: Recollecting memory is what triggered me, yes, at the beginning. I think, we, as a human always recollect a certain memory from our past from time to time. Memories are always presented in relation to a present condition and it can always change depending on how present situation.
It all changed when suddenly I feel like that the subjects of which I took a picture of, have got nothing to do with present “me” at all. People there sometimes forgot who I am anyway. So I barge into people’s houses without asking permission first and then I take photograph. I photograph people in a very close distant so they could get irritated and remember who I am. Sometimes I even showered their faces with flashlight from my camera in a very close distant which is very blinding for a moment to their eyes. I call this an act to re-define positions from what and who is already forgotten, into what I can do and who I am now.
Of course with certain decorum people raised their eye brows when suddenly there is me with camera in their houses. They screamed, they got angry and asked me to leave, they even think that I have mental problems. Some talked to me, some tried to make conversation, some asked me politely to have a water or coffee to drink. But at least they all remember me now.