HOME SWEET HOME by Anton Gautama
The pure placement of objects and furniture in homes anywhere can reveal how complex and symbolical humans shape their environments. Wealth or the lack of finances does not necessarily discern who is organized and who is not.
In most of the homes in HOME SWEET HOME, one can sense the generations that have passed through them. Taoist altars, some with countenances, some not, frequently appear as glowing red and yellow shades of light. Decades of framed family photographs or wall calendars in these homes are as common as in many corners of the earth and at the same time so very unique and personal. It might be the curiosities of the long-run family business side by side with historical photographs that impress Anton Gautama most. Or the colonial-style green door or window frame that captures his eye first. The juxtaposition of different perspectives of the same room guides our eyes to engage with details of the functional space and in some ways the beauty of the simplicity of lines, and the patina of surfaces. Much of the time he is standing in the darkness, waiting for his eyes to adjust. A path to a basement can be precarious, sometimes haunting. In the older kitchens, the cooking utensils appear as curious, surreal sculptures invariance to more recent plastic and electric varieties. Stone or cement block stovetops can be found in many places photographed: no longer used for cooking, the massive slabs give reminiscence to the fire hearth that was standard here not long ago.
HOME SWEET HOME focuses on the domestic interiors of homes in the streets where Anton Gautama was born and where he lives today. He shows us how he is exhilarated by experimenting with the sensibilities of color and lighting. His concept evolves around capturing traditions that he feels are of social documentary importance—and his choices are justified. To be able to observe the waves of change in everyday life, it takes more than having a photographic eye; it takes a great amount of stamina and patience but more than anything the photographer must be able to convey their experience. Anton Gautama’s understanding of the places he photographs is not just about the social evidence, but also about deciphering the compositions.
Gautama shares intimate views into where and how ethnic Chinese-Indonesian communities have lived for generations. He is not interested in a room with a view or producing the perfect seductive and dreamy interior design shoot, but he is clear about showing the view of a room. Paradoxically, it is the liveliness of the space and the inanimate objects which are present. Each of the objects has been touched by a hand and often passed on, maybe to the point that it is no longer in use and thus becomes an emblem of a person or an action of the past. If the object can tell a story, the photograph can tell more. It can preserve the object for more eyes to see.
This visual story is a reference to living quarters of different Chinese-Indonesians based in East Java and South Sulawesi. Anton Gautama—the unexpected visitor—turns these minute impressions into visual statements about time, place and culture.
Artistic Director of Frankfurt Fotografie Forum
Anton Gautama’s pictures are full of subtlety, respect, and occasionally even humor. While appearing simple, his photographs reveal the unique and complicated ways each of us create personal spaces.
Brian C. Arnold
A wonderful typology of the private living spaces of Chinese Indonesians. The melting of Chinese, Indonesian and Dutch icons and structures as seen in the pictures tickled my curiosity.
Kevin WY Lee
Invisible Photographer Asia
24 x 28 cm (Landscape)