Passing – by Edy Purnomo. A Review
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It seems that finally the publishing of photography books arrives in Indonesia. Not that there haven’t been any photography books published before. Well established publishers like Afterhours Books spearheaded with the agile Lans Brahmantyo did this in the past and continue to do so. But only nowadays it seems that photographers take it into their own hands to either find a publisher willing to work with them or publish on their own altogether. It would be great to see more Indonesian photographers to take advantage of the digital publishing revolution (e.g. lulu, blurb).
The latest edition to my book shelve of Indonesian photo books comes from Edy Purnomo, titled “PASSING”.
The first I recognized was its small not to say tiny size of about 14×16 cm. I didn’t expect it to be as huge as a Helmut Newton, but this size is rather surprising. Well, one should not judge a book by its cover or should we? I wished that the publisher, PannaFoto Institute, would have given more space to the photographs. Especially when a picture is layout on a single page (s. Picture 1 below) it is just not able to ‘breath’. The photographs in this book encompasses 14 years of work of the photographer, to cramp this into a pocket size book does not do justice to such a life span, Edy’s images deserve better.
So what’s in the book? It starts with a landscape of Mt.Bromo and takes the reader from there to Banda Island, Jakarta, Amsterdam, Paris, Timor Leste, Maratua Island, Aceh, Kathmandu, Borobudur, Semarang, Kuta Bali and many more places. Reflecting the traveling lifestyle of a photojournalist – Edy worked for major magazines. The images are either of journalistic, street photography, landscape, or abstract style. As Edy says in his foreword to the book, “For me this is a visual mosaic of my journey”. Not necessarily in the order these pictures were taken but rather to give an overview of his passion for photography. All the images are only ordered by two basic categories, “land” and ‘water”. This is the strength and also the weakness of this kaleidoscope of images. It is easy to see how many facets of photography and events he covered along these years and it’s also hard to see the core: Where is Edy Purnomo in it? The reader may find an answer by Edy in the interview with project coordinator Ng Swan Ti – who is a talented photographer herself: “I think motion symbolizes a journey… So, these passing moments become something that is very important to me.” Motion, moves, physically changes that seems to be the core interest of Purnomo. Looking at the pictures to me this core interest is not conveyed in all images. A romantic shot of a couple resting in front of a beautiful landscape, the statement of the unmoved grandeur of Mt. Bromo do not contribute to this. I see a compromise between Edy’s personal angle of view (maybe best conveyed in the pictures 4,5,6 below), and the goal of the book to show his work over the years.
A compromise of course is not bad per se, though I hope for the near future to see a book of Edy Purnomo called “MOVE” filled with his images of change and movements just supported by what he felt. It would be more a photographer book than a photography book.
Purnomo, E., & Pannafoto Institute, (2012). Passing. (1st ed.). Jakarta: PannaFoto Institute. ISBN 978-602-18308-0-2. Price 130.000 IDR.
International buyers, please contact PD-JKT for purchase information.