During Helena Manhartsbergers one-year stay in Indonesia at the ISI University (Institute Seni Indonesia, department of photography) in Yogyakarta, she was invited to participate in the Tiroler Kulturtage 2013 – “urban spricht kunst” in Innsbruck.
As the concept of the festival required a strong conceptual connection to Tyrol, she felt herself obliged to think about how she could meet with these requirements while living in her temporary residence of choice. This is how Helena began to look for Tyrol in Indonesia, thereby asking herself questions such as: “What are the differences between these two regions and what unites them?”, “What reminds me of ‘home’?”
She thereby discovered that while consciously reflecting upon Indonesian culture, more and more questions about her “own” origin and culture arose: “I discovered blind spots, things that I had forgotten or never known about. This is how the “other” inspired me to engage more consciously in the research of my own history.” It was upon these observations that she developed the basis for the current project: “I wanted to start a process that confronted people with the “other”, thereby inspiring them to perceive the “own” in a new and more conscious manner.”
“Through landscape we experience and create the culture in which we position ourselves. In it, we combine all those impressions, phenomena and ideas, which through their assembly greatly influence our own identity. As such, landscape is a communicative act, which is based on culture-specific and individual memories as well as meanings and experiences, which are bound on places. In the space we invent the landscape that offers us guidance. “ (Marcus Cordes)
This quote inspired Helena to implement the current project and to extend the conscious process of reflection she had experienced in and through an unknown place to other people, thereby expanding the communication process between her and her surroundings that should become a transcultural dialogue – between people in Indonesia and Tyrol – within and beyond their personal realities.
„Our knowledge of the world, as well as the views on other countries and cultures that we develop are highly influenced by the media. What remains ignored by the media is also often neglected by our collective perception. The eurocentric view of the world predominates; those who report are rarely part of the world they report on.“ (ipsum 2013)
While searching for an adequate method in order to implement the project, Helena considered the method of generative picture processing that she had got to known and experiment with practically during my activities within the cultural art association of ipsum.
This method is based on photography as a nonverbal impulse capable of evoking the beholders’ associations of personal memories, stories and experiences. When it came to selecting the pictures Helena wanted to work with, she thought about a phenomenon that intrigued her: “That people, when doing research about a country or a topic, globally tend to turn towards the internet for first information and pictures, without questioning these sources afterwards. This is why I started browsing the internet for more or less representative and stereotypical images of my home region.”
Helena then took theses photos on a journey that led her from Yogyakarta through East Java via Bali until Lombok. On her way she displayed them to the people she met and asked them to share their thoughts and personal memories that the pictures brought up in them. She recorded the interviews on video and also took a photographic portrait of her interview partners. In addition, Helena asked them to write or draw a caption to go along with their portrait that reflected how the wanted to be seen in the exhibition.
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The results varied as strongly as the stories:
While some noted name, age, address, profession and marital status, others documented the story they had just been telling word by word, creating pages of material and again others just started drawing what came into their minds. The captions where scribbled on whatever paper was around at the time of the interview thus representing an authentic part of their place of origin within the exhibition.
At the end of her journey Helena met with artists from the film production company „Euforia Audiovisual“ in Yogyakarta, who realized the montage and design with her, while she tried to remain in the background in order to mainly leave the creative process to them and thus allow yet another perspective to become part of the project.
The results of this first part (film, photographic portraits and captions as well as one of the artist’s Digie Sigits’ stencils) have been presented throughout the Tiroler Kulturtage 2013 “urban spricht kunst”.