Category Archives: Photography

Ostrich fine art photography by think archipelago

A Southeast Asian city narratives by photographer turn artist

It’s All About the Story, Past, Present, Future is a solo exhibition by mixed-media artist Robert Pearce, held in Galeri Kertas, Depok. think archipelago is a proud media partner of the exhibition that runs from 1 to 31 May 2019. To visit their official site, go to, or @galerikertas_art

Rob Pearce performs on the opening site of his solo exhibition at Galeri Kertas, 1 May 2019. Photo by Arhan, courtesy of Studio Hanafi.

During the 1000 days of mourning for his parents passing years ago, a common social behavior in parts of Asia, 57 year-old Robert Pearce, residing in Indonesia, drowned himself into period of contemplation.

Then, in frenzy collage, he glued pieces of cut photos of his parents, words from the books he read, leaves from plants on his lush yard, pasted it on the wall and had it photographed.

More than a visual object, it became a shrine where he left flowers as if he was in the cemetary, visiting his memories with them.

His intricate works are also composed of advertising posters he ripped on the streets and underpasses of Jakarta he had noticed during one of his his photography projects.

It took months to execute all the pieces together, and who knows how long to muster the idea. Judging from the finished objects, craft knife and paint are presumably tools he often uses.

Douglas Ramage, an avid collector of Hanafi’s works which he first came to know some 20 years back, said that in those time he would not have seriously thought about buying a photograph that he deemed of no artistic value. But Rob Pearce, whom he first met when he was a photographer, changed that notion.

“Rob loves to tell stories of his photos. I believe he can’t create something without telling the story,” Doug said in fluent Indonesian during the public discussion. His favorite is the medium format 2×1 photowork containing fragments of Jakarta, and interestingly, after a much closer look, the artist’s late mother.

He added that Rob tried to put his mother inside the frames, hidden in a rich selection of colors 

Hanafi is also notable for his preference to colors, the collector said.

“There is depth in Hanafi’s colors,” he said.

Hanafi said that within Rob is a soul that will never stop delving into the torned pieces, looking for each of the memory kept inside.

“Jakarta made me a better person, more tolerant, more patient,” Rob said, while adding that he hates the portrayal of Jakarta as another exotic Asian cosmopolitan city. Among his notable portfolio about Jakarta were Marunda Water (1999-2000), and Ripped Faces, 8008km (2001-2003).

The youth Rob came for the first time to Jakarta in 1970, before settling since the 1990 as an English teacher. His return in the 2000s after taking bachelor degree in Documentary Photography, University of Wales, Newport, began the journey that turned him from a photographer to a widely-recognized artist, a move he described as self-learning and mind-liberating.

Asked about the motivation behind the move, the artist who also obtained bachelor degree in Southeast Asian Studies, University of Kent, Canterbury, in 1983, said being a photographer is driven by his view of both romanticism and machoism, that of having oneself in a new place, investigating one case to another.

The downside is that the job is an instructed routine that can be mind-numbing. He wanted to tell more stories in creative ways and possibilities of his own making.

Looking into his works, the trace of photography are commonplace, but they have become less of an art photography and more of a mixed media art, uniquely shaped by the artist’s fragments of past memory, the current “Asian” state of being, and the way he visualizes the country he lives in.

Lembaran Kelengkapan. Rob Pearce. Joss paper, book pages, acrylic paint, acrylicink on aluminium composite. 2019.

Nevertheless, he said that the intuition shaped in the years of “tukang foto” still persist. He just feels lucky and seems grateful enough to be able to make narratives the way he wants to now.        

He credited Jakarta as his aesthetic teacher, saying, “My artworks came to be owing to Jakarta. They are inspired by the raucous noise, dust, and smoke around the city streets and flyovers.”

Lontar Foundation founder John H. McGlynn, on the opening day filled with lively ceremony and the line-up of musicians such as Oppie Andaresta, explained that Rob exhibit what used to be simple photoworks he had taken decades before they transformed into complex, impassioned artworks. Hence he suggested that each piece has an enriching story to be understood, learned by the audience.

It‘s All About the Story, Past, Present, Future by Rob Pearce is Galeri Kertas first exhibition of this year. On this occasion they simultaneously introduce their 2019 tagline: Let’s fill this town with artists.

As what has been the usual agenda of Galeri Kertas, Rob Pearce art exhibition precedes a workshop by the artist for selected young, aspiring artists, a public discussion, and the eventual workshop exhibition.

Curator Heru Joni Putra said the main source of material of Rob’s artwork is the books he read. Moreover, the torned pages he attached to joss “ghost” papers in Chinese ritual, for instance, showed Rob’s perseverance on exploring the paper-based artwork material, and how it conforms to Galeri Kertas mission to light up the exploration and promote the particular medium.

Asked why the displayed works are not signed with date of completion, it is revealed that Rob has phobia with his own signature, which explained why he decided to put it at the back of the frame.

For a supposedly dyslexic person, Rob left a somewhat articulate note on the wall to tell the visitors about the journey from his suburb home-garden in Cipayung to Hanafi’s art studio in Parung Bingung.

There was no eureka moment just the drip drip drip of learning. Observing that which can lead you in the direction of partial understanding. Of looking for opportunities and celebrating mistakes, as it is here that can lead to something new. The joy of randomness and the pleasure in work can come together, meshing and weaving intertwined threads with the aim of producing a piece that pleases the eye and tweaks the intellect.

Brave the world

Monomatthink archipelago V8 Nov 2014Brave the world is the cover story of the 8th international edition of think archipelago magazine, a post-independence discourse on 7.9 million coastal population in Indonesia who live with less than USD2 of earnings per day.


Reviving Indonesia’s past glory as the world’s biggest archipelagic state, then called Nusantara in pre-colonial era, is the newly elected Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s keynote in terms of economic development. In what his administration touted as the maritime axis power, Indonesia is going to build its economy with much larger proportion coming from the waters.

Pushing renewable resources would mean a boost in fishing output, and the vision to increase sea trade would translate into an ambitious plan of ports building. To this extent, the government has a huge task of making a headstart.

Some analysts said the country is not by any means close to the bold terms of the maritime axis power, and the vision far-flung.

Bojonegara port redevelopment plan layout
Bojonegara port redevelopment plan layout

Like in this lagging port infrastructure in Bojonegara, Banten, the decade-old vision to transform this shore into a port in West Java that will overtake Tanjung Priok in Jakarta as the hub for Sumatra-Java sea trade, let alone an important regional port on par with Singapore lacks every indication.

The service boat operated by Kadiman, among other small number of crews as seen on this page clearly suggests that Bojonegara has a long way to go. Its inability to handle large vessels is the reason Kadiman still works there. He and his small boat carries passengers and goods from and to the ships anchoring off the waters.

Since Bojonegara is close to the Merak, one of the busiest ports in Indonesia, it has seen heavy traffic of cargos, tankers, and other large utility vessels such as dredging ships. Some shipping companies have made Bojonegara their home port.

But Kadiman does not get a lot of money there. The absence of infrastructure, especially the docks, is now certainly something he is grateful of, and also to some dozen other boat crews. Bojonegara remains trapped in visionary rhetorics, and it has not transformed into reality.

Maritime power is not only limited to trades, but also the sovereignty over waters. The newly appointed Foreign Affair Minister Retno Marsudi underlines her agenda settling disputed claims with neighboring countries, and bolstering cooperation. The Joko Widodo-led new administration marks a dawn where Indonesia braves the world.

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The Akihabara crossings

Inna KC
Inna KC

Laurentius T. Pesik
Laurentius T. Pesik



Akihabara is known as the heaven for otakus with its collection of Japanese anime and comics. Following years of redevelopment, this place is now famous for Akihabara Crossfield, a business complex with the aim of promoting Akihabara as a center for global electronics technology and trade.

You can also find the the famous AKB 48 theatre in Don quijote Akihabara and the cafe just right next to the JR Railways Station.

Shinjuku is a commercial center and home to many well-known sights and tourist attractions. Several of the tallest buildings in Tokyo are located in this area The most interesting part of Shinjuku would be the Kabukicho district, Tokyo’s most notorious red-light district. To the south is Shinjuku Nichome, Tokyo’s largest gay district.

Ueno is the face of Tokyo with cultural atmosphere. It is famous with art galleries and  museums, shopping and jewellery wholesale arcades. This is also the place where you can experience traditional Japanese performing arts, such as theatrical entertainment and comical story-telling (rakugo).

japan 4

The old port


Sunda Kelapa

Sunda Kelapa Port is still functioning as it had been since seven hundred years ago. It now accommodates only the wooden Phinisi ships, due to the relocation of the main harbor to Tanjung Priok, which was built in 19th century to keep up with the Suez Canal-induced maritime trade increase.

It was this limitation that made the old port a relic of the past.

But the faces of the hopefuls and hopeless are intertwined on the decks of these typically archaic ship models.

Their wooden hulls left an impression that these ships are unable to stand the test of time, nor able to handle the burden with which the modernity carries.

sunda kelapaThe exasperation on the ship crews faces reflected the atmosphere at the old port of Sunda Kelapa.

The people and the ships have been overwhelmed by the manual work, even though the work load shows only a small fraction to that of the modern port activities.

Nevertheless, the old ways of seafaring and trade refuse to surrender to the surge of time in this north-end of Jakarta’s old section.


Sunda kelapa

Singapore some time ago


The article first appeared in Monomat, February 1, 2013.

Easo out in Singapore

Singapore is the most developed country in Southeast Asia. But on the other side of the equation, it is a prisoner of tourism destination high level of expectation.

As is the case with countries vying for prestigious place in international stage amid the rapidly growing status as economic hubs, it builds mega structures and modernises prime districts in the city in a way that only a certain group’s ambition are concerned, all the while disregarding the wisdom of efficient and quality living.

These photos revealed when Singapore was a more livable place a decade ago.

World class art center

Before there is the monolithic Marina Bay Sands or the hustle of Formula One night race, the city state of Singapore was not soring to the eye or too choking as it is now.

Then, the city was the center of attention largely for its durian-shaped theater on the bay “Esplanade”, opened in 2002. Southeast Asia grabbed a limelight in art cultivation, positioning itself on par with few other world class art centers.

The city of working class

Singapore is still the city of working class people. Packed public transportation modes like buses and MRTs, or crowded pedestrian precincts are the indicators.

People still allocate an amount of time seeking leisure near the Merlion, among other open, public venues in the city.

But now tourists set another must-visit site on top of the itinerary list, that is, the summit of MBS that comes in the shape of giant boat awkwardly placed on the tip of its three in-line buildings.

It is also a popular choice for Indonesian couples to do their wedding photography, a case of which is represented by a friend.

Now the island nation is among hosts to gas-guzzling automotive sport, the second in the region following Malaysia. The race to leverage status has somewhat shifted to grandiose building projects for rich society and overblown sports events.

Singapore some time ago

Merlion park
People ease out in the afternoon at Merlion Park

A decade ago, when giving oneself a night treat to the Clark Quay while looking at the business district where there stood skyscrapers and UOB tower as the highest building in the city at the time was a simple yet memorable experience, when buying marinated beef at a tiny stall “Bee Cheng Hiang” near the entrance of one of the plazas in busy Orchard Road was one of the things your family had asked to bring to Jakarta, when I went to Temasek and learned later that the word actually derived from a Javanese meaning “sea”, or when Changi Airport was abuzz with seemingly plain-box-shaped design on the outside but of ultra-efficient system of direction on the inside, Singapore in 2003 was a distinctive city in openness.

The contemplation of st. John


The article first appeared in Monomat, 20 May 2013, gracing the cover of the international edition of think archipelago magazine V6 May 2014.

Since ancient times, contemplation is said to involve the recitation of words in whispers, or muted.

img150 John Climacus was an exceptional person in the history of Western theology because he was revered to as a saint by Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Church even though there was no any records about his life.

His study about the stages in contemplative prayers was part of his teaching that lasts until today’s practice of Christianity. On any given day, some people would come to the church in search of self-fulfillment.

The need to contemplate

Is it important now to contemplate as suggested by Thomas Aquinas?

Samadhi, a term in Buddhism and Hinduism which similarly refers to a state of deep meditative contemplation.

Many centuries ago, the definition that entails this divine activity is to have the vision of god. In his Ladder of Divine Ascent, which was drawn in the 12th Century and now resides in Saint Catherine’s monastery, Mount Sinai, Egypt, Saint John Climacus is depicted to have led his followers on a narrow stairway to Heaven, where god awaits.

In a religious society, where god functions as the answer to humans’ plight, praying for a solution is a banality.

But the increasing complexity of modern life creates necessities beyond the promise for an eternal afterlife or a wishful thinking to witness the biblical prophecy.

Striving in today’s world requires humans to face constant and inevitable problems. But when one seeks meditation to free the mind and focus on finding a solution, perhaps it indicates too the transcendental significance that still persists in modern society.

In their solitude, sheltered from the outside world, two men are aware that God is a living reality.

Well-planned perspective

Agus Chang is a writer who now works as an IT professional in one of the fastest growing banks in Indonesia. He has an interest in sports, technology and culture. He believes that intellectual and moral side of humans should work together in harmony to create a better world.

Hong Kong in bw

Public transportation is a crucial point to be noticed by government to grow prevalent economic scale throughout the city. In Hong Kong we can find various types of it, such as MTR, buses, taxis and street trams (only in Hong Kong island), provided to support its citizen to go to all district.

Hong Kong

People strolling around every corner of this city is a common view. It becomes a habit for Hong Kong people. There are many youngsters and senior citizen mingle on the sidewalk. Even past midnight on weekdays, the crowd still fills the streets looking for food or just enjoying the city’s atmosphere.

Hong Kong in bw

The city population daily needs are provided by ubiquitous retail spaces starting from groceries, restaurants, mini markets, famous brands outlets to shopping malls. These stores are placed side by side with the neighborhood. Apartments are often placed between stores.

Hong Kong in bw

Traffic jam frequently occur on regular days, but it is very light compared to the traffic city of Jakarta. Jay walkers are sometimes spotted. Hong Kong’s street is not too wide so when a bus stop to drop off and pick up passengers, it occupies the left lane which quickly creates bus queue behind.