Designer toys have become such an acknowledged, and perhaps overexposed, force in the Indonesian art scene that once-curious displays of plastic figurines are starting to lose their novel appeal.
In the past year, it seemed that just about every local artist picked up a batch of resin material at some point and began hammering away at an inaugural anthropomorphic monster.
While the pioneering spirit of the craft is arguably no longer attainable, a designer toy community called Plastic Culture is eager to turn heads again with its “Toy Life” photography exhibition, which aims to reaffirm the eye-popping power of designer toys when presented in the least likely of places.
The exhibition opened on Saturday at the Plastic Culture store in Grand Indonesia Shopping Town and will run until Sunday. Visitors can enter for free.
The featured toy artists, 15 in total, were selected from 102 submissions received by Plastic Culture. Their images range from professional photographs to others taken with simple camera phones.
The exhibition features an array of toys that have been “posed,” ostensibly to display a different side to them. Some are shot with an indistinguishable backdrop while others feature livelier settings, as if the toys were actually futurist photo shoot models.
Photographer Fauzie Helmy has set the toys in real-life locations, such as in front of malls, in gardens, on rocky surfaces, at temples and in various other places in accordance with each toy’s unique aesthetic.
Plastic Culture’s co-owner and founder, Joshua Artono, said the idea arose after noticing how many people, not just toy artists but also collectors, frequently photographed their toys in public places.
“Especially now with cellphone cameras, people can take photos anywhere, anytime,” he said.
Designer Simone Legno’s Tokidoki toy is photographed by Fauzie in a garden, with blades of grass that seem relatively formidable alongside the tiny figure. The gun-wielding toy looks as if it is in the middle of a battle, no matter what its harmless-looking cow costume and grinning face might indicate.
One of the exhibit’s most intriguing displays is Win Satrya’s collection of “Damn! I Love Indonesia” toys, which include four Indonesian figures wearing traditional getup in front of a temple that resembles Central Java’s Prambanan. Win’s other toy is a figure inspired by Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno, shot in front of the president’s Bogor Palace.
Another picture finds designer Bob Dob’s horned devil figurine photographed with a lighter among disposed cigarette butts on the street.
The exhibition’s whimsical touches come in various forms. Japanese designer Tatsuya Watanabe’s baby dinosaur toy is shot by Fauzie among a few eggs in a nest, as if it has just hatched.
Another toy by Marshall Alexander, also photographed by Fauzie, sports 3D glasses with popcorn in tow, sitting in front of the TV.
Joshua said he hoped the exhibit would succeed in examining the relationship between the two artistic worlds, designer toys and photography by providing a new perspective on both.
Until May 27
At Plastic Culture
Level One, Grand Indonesia, Central Jakarta