Tasa Nugraza Barley
As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. This is especially true for photojournalists who chronicle historical events through a camera lens.
One place that prominently displays these important photos is the Galeri Foto Jurnalistik Antara (Antara Gallery of Photojournalism) in Pasar Baru, Central Jakarta.
“Aspiring photojournalists can take pride if their photos are displayed in this great building,” said Budi Chandra, a 30-year-old photographer who freelances for newspapers and magazines. “It’s amazing because one photo can be interpreted in many different ways.”
The Antara Gallery prides itself on being the country’s first and only venue dedicated to photojournalism.
The building itself is rich in history — it was once the headquarters of the government news agency Antara, which was founded on Dec. 13, 1937. The agency played an active role in the country’s formation when journalists used the building as their headquarters to announce Indonesia’s independence to the rest of the world in 1945.
Now, this beautiful, three-story Dutch colonial building is divided into several sections. The photo gallery can be found on the first floor, but this area remains empty when there is no photography exhibition.
Ricky Adrian, a gallery representative, explained that the exhibitions are not limited only to journalism but also cover other types of photography.
He added that the gallery welcomes anyone who wished to hold an event or exhibition at the venue.
The gallery’s latest photo exhibit was “Maling Jemuran,” or Laundry Thief, which went on display from Jan. 9 to 16, organized by Jakarta’s Art Council. The exhibit focused on jemuran , or clothes being hung up to dry.
Next to the photo gallery, there’s a place where photographers can hang out and exchange stories. Ricky, who is a photojournalist himself, said that the Neo Journalism Club area can seat about 40 people. “Photographers can just come and talk about things related to their work — or anything, really,” he said.
Another area of interest at the Antara gallery is the small journalism museum on the second floor. The museum’s collection includes old cameras, typewriters, production and communication equipment and furniture that were all used by Antara’s journalists during the Dutch colonial period. In addition, the museum also has several news photos depicting the Indonesian people’s contribution toward the process of decolonization.
Antara utilizes the building’s third floor as the office for its photography department.
“It’s every photographer’s dream that someday he or she can have an exhibition so people can see and appreciate their work,” Budi said. “And Galeri Foto Jurnalistik Antara is the best place to do it.”
Budi explained that the highest appreciation any photojournalist can receive is when they can have a positive impact on society through their photos. He added that photojournalists are different from other photographers because they have the obligation to make people aware of important issues through their photos.
“And to get that kind of appreciation, they have to exhibit,” he said.
Ricky said photographers in Indonesia hold the Antara Gallery of Photojournalism in such high regard because of its longstanding dedication, not just to the art of photography, but also because of its historical background as well.
“I can’t name any other place in Jakarta that has the same prestige and quality,” Budi said.
An upcoming gallery event will be a photo exhibition called “China Town” by Singaporean photographer Zhuan Wubin. The exhibition, which will showcase Chinese culture around Southeast Asia, will run from Feb. 5 to 21.
Galeri Foto Jurnalistik Antara (Antara Gallery of Photojournalism)
Jalan Antara No. 59
Pasar Baru, Central Jakarta
Tel: 021 345 8771