A Dutch photographer, Ted van der Hulst, held a photography exhibition entitled Aristocrats at the Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA). This exhibition presents dozens of human interest photographic works extracted from the life of the community of short-statured (midgets) people who have survived amidst the roar of tourism activity in Bali. The exhibition was opened on Wednesday (Dec 28) and will last until January 18, 2023.
This Aristocrat exhibition started when he was captivated to work beyond what was considered as beauty. He prioritized ‘as it is’ from the capture of his camera lens. “I was inspired by the community of short people in Bali, so I try to present people who are marginalized and who are barely talked about in the social arena,” said Ted van der Hulst to journalists on the sidelines of his preparations for the opening of the exhibition.
Some of the works depict the activities of the community of about 25 people who work through this Midget Fun Boxing community show for tourists in Bali. He wanted to show how persistent this community is in fighting for life, as a right like other citizens. “This exhibition is to pay tribute to the members of this midget community as well as to share experiences regarding humanism to the public,” he explained.
The works of Ted van der Hulst seem to lead people to the unexpectedly difficult conditions of this community. “We capture their happiness through activities and struggles that are very hard, but on the other hand they offer paradoxes, for example, through humorous poses with gloomy faces that seem to harbor sadness,” he added.
All of the works in the exhibition provide a lesson on how humans respond to life. “Luxury does not always give happiness. And perhaps in conditions of deficiency, the human side of life still emits divine gifts for which we should be grateful,” he said.
Meanwhile, a legal expert and cultural conservationist, Tamalia Alisjahbana, in her introduction to the exhibition, stated that the photographer managed to describe the survival activities of a short people community who survive through boxing shows. “Here they look after each other and have created protection from the humiliation and hurt of the so-called normal world,” wrote Tamalia.
Tamalia saw that from the photographic works one can immediately feel the bitter-sweet world of the dwarves’ community. Ted van der Hulst’s sensitivity has succeeded in capturing their human side through the medium of photography. “Ted van der Hulst gently leads us with his camera to understand this truth,” she said.
In the meantime, curator Bruce Carpenter said that Indonesian midgets often seek refuge with each other to become a community that functions as a family that offers protection, friendship and income while diligently protecting the private life of its members. Midget Fun Boxers founded by Boncel in 2010 is a prime example of this phenomenon.
Ted van der Hulst, who was born in Utrecht, Netherlands, in 1982, has been involved in photography since childhood. After studying at Fotovakschool Amsterdam (2012) he worked at MRA on photographs for Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan and Esquire magazines while teaching photography at Lasalle College in Jakarta.
His personal project featuring a very touching photographic work has been exhibited and published in a book entitled Dennis (2017). The exhibition five years ago presented the life of young orangutans who were rescued and then learned how to live again in the forest. Then, successively there were High Dogciety photo exhibition at Edwin Gallery (2019), and JakCats at Kunstkring (2019).
This time, Ted van der Hulst lives in Bali with his wife and children. He works as a portrait artist just like a painter, but he uses a camera to create his works. Ted van der Hulst mostly shoots using a studio light and a tripod. He eschews special effects and digital imagery and prefers to let the lens and camera do the work to keep photos honest and authentic. (BTN/015)
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