Indonesia & Mexico in the Eyes of Women

Marcela Taboada's photos

Two female photographers from Indonesia and Mexico had put themselves in each others’ shoes by emerging both of the countries’ social phenomena. Since they exchanged themselves being in each others’ society, everything became something new in their eyes, and remarkably, they could capture the things they saw from their very personal perspective which perhaps would not appear in the mind of those living in the society itself.

Desiree Harahap, a noted Indonesian professional photographer who has traveled throughout Indonesia to document the images of the world’s largest archipelago, had traveled for six months to various cities in four states, from Mexico City to Oaxaca, Chiapas and Jalisco. Her journey has opened her eyes to new perspectives about life and challenged her curiosity and passion to capture the real essence of such heritage. She was overwhelmed by the fascination of Mexico’s cultural dynamics and acute uniqueness; the place and the people she met along the way.

"Men.Women.Muxe" & "Mexico City Gay Pride Parade" by Desiree Harahap

In one of her photo, “Men.Women.Muxe,” she explains, “I found out that in this small town named Juchitan, gay lifestyles are not only accepted but celebrated. Gay people or they call it Muxe are considered a third gender. Many families believe that to have a gay in the family brings good luck and is considered a blessing.” Another unique thing she met was a church having colorful doors which has no altar, no Jesus figure above it, no statues nor benches. The lack of natural light and the floor covered by pine leafs, she notes, make the atmosphere quite sombre. She names the photo “Gate to Heaven.”

Marcela Taboada, a self-accomplished independent photographer living in Oaxaca, Mexico, since 1986, gives out a detailed view on the Indonesian cultural and social heritage, from wedding ceremonies, traditional rituals and dances, religious activities, or the things done daily, like the ones she reveals through her “Women Bathing in the River,” “Women Arriving to Hospital 5:00pm Visit,” “Students at Padang Beach,” “Young Girls Drinking Chemkol,” “Girls on Vacation Day,” “Girls Playing in the River,” “Men Smoking Kreteks,” etc.

"Woman on the Beach" & "Wayang Orang Performer" by Marcela Taboada

All of their photos are now being exhibited at the Jogja Gallery (Alun-alun Utara, Yogyakarta, Indonesia) from June 14 to 27, 2010. They embrace all of their photos in one big title: “Saling Menatap” (Looking at Each Other). According to Melba Pria, the Ambassador of Mexico, “Since 2008 the Embassy of Mexico highlights Women’s International Day with a dialogue between Mexican and Indonesian female artists. In 2010 Mexico commemorates 200 years of Independence, and for this special anniversary, the Embassy proudly presents the photographic exhibition ‘Saling Menatap,’ a dialogue between photographers from Indonesia and Mexico.”

Desiree Harahap's photos

She adds, “Desiree and Marcela had the opportunity to immerse themselves in each other’s country and society, and to catch with their personal view what they thought was unique, bizarre or remarkable from the other culture. They focused their lenses in women, which are the main topic in this exhibition, along with children and family, festivities, and rural and urban life.”

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