While waiting for their trains, commuters at the Gambir train station were entertained by a photography exhibition titled “Local Elections on Camera.”
With the election for Jakarta governor approaching, the Alliance of Independent Journalists Indonesia (AJI) together with the Australian Government Overseas Aid Program (AusAID), held a photography contest for professional journalists. As a supporter of Indonesia’s elections, the Australian embassy hopes to communicate with people through the competitive journalistic event.
The six-day exhibition showcased 60 journalistic photographs out of 102 that had gone through a series of selections. Just how the media plays a large role in achieving transparent elections, this exhibition shares the same objective. It is the people’s turn to realize that elections hold the key to a brighter future for Indonesia’s democracy.
“Well-run elections are essential to any democracy. As the world’s third-largest democracy, Indonesia hosts well over 200 local elections every year,” Mat Kimberley, acting head of AusAID in Indonesia, said in a news release. “This photography exhibition highlights Indonesia’s vibrant electoral process.”
Also vibrant was the venue of the exhibition: Gambir Station. It’s Jakarta’s biggest train station and busiest meeting point, with more than 200,000 people using it each day. Everyone is invited to vote for their favorite photo along with the three winners the judges announced on the opening night on Saturday.
The photograph that grabbed the judges’ attention and won first place was by Hairul, a picture of a disabled Bangka resident holding the voting needle with her toes. Fifty-year-old Jumiah’s arms are paralyzed, leaving her no option but to vote with her feet.
The three judges, Arbain Rambey, Oscar Motuloh and Rully Kesuma, said that local elections could be a cliche when seen through a lens, but that’s what pushes the creativity of photographers.
Senior photographer and judge Motuloh said that each picture held a message within it. “The disabled voter is a symbol of the importance of using your voting rights,” he said, as quoted by AJI and AusAID. “There is also another symbolic one explaining how the election posters are taking away the public right to the beauty of the streets.”
This is how through photography, a materialistic campaign can be distinguished from a constructive one.