Best Indonesian Photobook of 2015

We suppose to say something like “It’s the end of the year and as usual we would like to list down our favourite photobooks coming from our Indonesian Photographers.”

But then we realize we were late, so we apologize for that and we still don’t care if we were late. So here it goes:

If you need a reminder, these are the criteria for selection:

  • Published in Indonesia
  • Published in 2015
  • Featured photographs made by Indonesians
  • The book should be able to captivate viewers
    to revisit the work.
  • The photographs should be able to make the
    viewers feel as though they are in the scene portrayed.
  • The publication should have physical qualities
    that support the above criteria.

In no particular order:

1. Sri Sadono – Ruang Bermain (reviewed by Ridzki Noviansyah)


Contrary to 2014, where we have a long term documentary project at work, we did not have any this year except for Yoppy Pieter Saujana’s Sumpu and Rama Surya’s A Certain Grace, however there’re more personal project published into book and fortunately most of them is not street photography book among those is Sri Sadono’s Ruang Bermain.

How I describe this book is probably the same way I would describe the children in the book, unpretentious and lovely. The photographs portray Indonesian kids at their “playground” whether it’s an open field or an apartment high above the ground. Although the photograph is lovely enough to be looked at, I felt the book could use a bit more sequencing and better production.

2. Fanny Octavianus – JKT (reviewed by Ridzki Noviansyah)



With the increased interest in street photography, there are bound to be more people who call themselves street photographers every now and then; showing up on the street of Jakarta at every car free day to take some street shots. On the other spectrum there’s Erik Prasetya and Fanny Octavianus who works silently and produce their labour of works after covering the street’s of Jakarta for years.

Fanny Octavianus’ approach in photographing Jakarta is a constant tug of war. As a photojournalist, Fanny produces frames that could pass as a headline in a newspaper, however Fanny also creates pictures that has a certain degree of romanticism in it. Jakarta’s according to Fanny is that place that he loathe and at the same time love and it is shown in the books.

3. Yoppy Pieter – Saujana Sumpu (reviewed by Tommy N Armansyah)



First, I will say one thing that I do not like about the book, i.e., the closing picture, the strongest one, of a boy, his body half immersed in the water, holding the head of an almost fully immersed girl, except her head (they are supposedly are siblings). As an individual picture, although it does create somehow unease feeling looking at it, I like it verymuch. However, as part of the book, it is way too strong, so strong that made it unfit with the rest of the book.

The rest of the book are just wonderful. Looking at the pictures and walking through its pages, you can almost hear a saluang being played. The pictures are poetic, Yoppy is a master in making these kind of pictures. If his intention is to take us, the reader, to look at prsent day Sumpu or Sumpur as some people say of the place, where its left by most of its male inhibitants for a better opportunity in the cities leaving behind women and children, he is done it beautifully. Published by PannaFoto Institute, the book design is simple, it completes the pictures, making the reading enjoyable. It is also featured in the recent Jakarta Bienalle 2015.

4. Homer Harianja –  As I Was Moving Ahead (reviewed by Tommy N



Homer’s  “As I Was Moving Ahead” is the odd one out. Whereas the other photographers featured in this year selection are all professional photographers, Homer is an amateur photographer (with a very good and keen eyes) and all of the photographs in the book are taken with film camera. The photographs are witty and vibrant, supposedly taken during family holiday, church visits and other usual daily activities but there are too few of it. There are also repetition of people (mostly kids) peeking through something.

It is the only colour photobook in our selection for 2015, published through the newly established Semarang based print-on-demand company, “Retrospective Journal”, which also published several other photobook by other Indonesians.

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