Beyond Transisi | Fotography Interview with Celina Lunsford

Celina Lunsford
Celina Lunsford © Maik Scharfscheer

There was so much to discover.  The hybrid forms of creative expressions, which were present in forms of poetry, music, cooking, art, design and theatre and books made Indonesia as special guest, one of the most fascinating programs that Frankfurt has seen in years. The mixtures of traditional and contemporary as well as the diverse culture of Indonesia made people curious about places they rarely have access to or have even thought about.



Fotografie Forum Frankfurt organizes special exhibitions with photographers from the 'Guest of Honour' country every year since 1990. What was special with Indonesia?

There was so much to discover.  The hybrid forms of creative expressions, which were present in forms of poetry, music, cooking, art, design and theatre and books made Indonesia as special guest, one of the most fascinating programs that Frankfurt has seen in years. The mixtures of traditional and contemporary as well as the diverse culture of Indonesia made people curious about places they rarely have access to or have even thought about. The official organizing committee was truly dedicated to making a statement, which would express the highest quality of creativity that Indonesia offers in all of its art forms.As far as photography goes, when I was researching in Indonesia, a rich documentary tradition that evolves around man and nature or the everyday living environment was immediately evident.

Some of the pictures in the exhibition have a strong visual and social message, especially the installation 'soulscape road'. How did the visitors react to this?

It was a premier to show Oscar Motuloh’s signature photographs of the aftermath from the 2004 Tsunami in a digital projection with a stirring soundtrack from Tony Prabowo. These photographs form a masterwork. People are very quiet in this room because it is a requiem of universal proportions. Some have cried. Germany’s most well known photojournalist Barbara Klemm visited the show and was impressed to discover this exceptional work by Motuloh. During the week of the Book Fair, Anies Baswedan, Minister of Education and Culture visited the exhibition and watched the presentation from beginning to the end.  When it was over everyone stood and clapped. It was powerful and emotional moment to experience how photography moves people.

The role of the photography curator is crucial for the exhibition. Can you give us some insight into your way or choosing and arranging the photos?

Photographers who are really well known in Indonesia are not so well known here, so it was important for Beyond Transisi to create a platform of established photographers like Oscar Motuloh, Jay Subyakto and Kemal Jufri with the other new talents.In choosing the concept and theme, as a curator I must reflect a different feeling and theme than the previous exhibition in our space, which was a very surreal and abstract aesthetic. So it was great to find different type of documentary projects for one show. I also made a wall of important and unusual photography book publications from Indonesia.Some from such art publishers like After Hours or Antara Gallery but also unique self-published photo books from young Indonesian photographers.
Because we had lots of planning to do over 2 sides of the globe I did a lot of coordination over whatsap and skyping.

We moved into our new space in mid 2014 and I am still learning and experimenting with it. Our space determines where and how much we can choose.  Luckily since this Beyond Transisi was a total new production of images to travel to Frankfurt, I had the freedom to suggest different sizes and print material for the photographers to fit perfectly into the space. I also had great assistance from Gunawan Widjaja and Oscar Motuloh from Antara Gallery to help find the right labs and technicians in Jarkarta to produce the works. One of the great things about digital technologies and photography today, are all the different surfaces possibilities to print upon for exhibitions. The labs today can easily make a wall paper to cover an entire building or print good quality on a canvas. For example I suggested that Octa Christi have her portrait of teenagers, “Seventeen”, printed in larger scale and on a canvas surface.  These four large-scale 1.5 x 2 m portraits of youth greet the visitor when they come into the room.  They are all each different but build a dialog to the importance of youth in Indonesian.


Indonesian photographers are looking for a stronger international exposure. How should they proceed to make their works known to the international photography scene?

When there is any international art or photography event in your hometown, try to visit it and meet people and even show your work if that situation allows it. It is good to get feedback from other eyes.
It is most important to have a good basic website.  This is a great way for anyone anywhere to review your work for the first time.  Several of the photographers who we are exhibiting are very active in social media networks.  For example when Kemal Jufri and Muhammad Fadli visited Germany for the Beyond Transisi exhibition, they went directly after the opening to photograph the current refugee migration into Europe.  Fadle was using instagram and facebook to let people have a feeling for what he confronted daily.

Additionally there are several photography festivals and portfolio reviews or blogs, which are good to look at just to keep informed what type of exhibitions or books are being produced. Look and read anything that interests you or you find strange.

Celina Lunsford
Artistic Director
Fotografie Forum Frankfurt


Vizepräsidentin
DFA Deutsche Fotografische Akademie


Celina Lunsford Biography  (PDF 30KB)