Image credit: Ruang MES 56, Far Away So Close, Semarang Contemporary Art Gallery, 2013

We’re delighted that the Indonesian collective Ruang MES 56 took the time to connect with us. 

Based in Yogyakarta, this group was initially formed in 2002 out of their interest as photography students and has gone on to become the longest-running collective in Indonesia. When they first started, art and photography were considered unrelated in Indonesia. They experimented with the medium and exhibited their work to overcome this, collaborating both in the broader community and internationally and pushing the boundaries.

Since those early days, members of the group have continued to promote photography as a bona fide art form and ensure their space is a safe place for everyone involved in their ongoing program of exhibitions, workshops, and discussions.

Thanks to their unrelenting vision, they now find themselves connected with both the art scene and their local community. They continue to extend their reach through collaborations with other artists, curators, researchers, and organisations worldwide and other mediums such as podcasts and a social engagement program, like their recent Mask for All. This project engaged the community by distributing masks to those most in need of protection from the coronavirus, like street vendors.

We were fascinated to hear about their groundbreaking journey to establish themselves and photography within the mainstream art scene in Indonesia.  We’re sure you will be too when you read the article in Head On Interactional later in the year.

A big thanks to their Research and Development Coordinator, Akiq AW, for his help with this. You can follow Ruang MES 56 on Instagram, Facebook and see their website here.


Two men screenprinting

Image credit: Ruang MES 56


Head On Foundation (est. 2008) is a non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting photographers' work at all career stages. We encourage excellence and innovation, make photography accessible to all, and raise awareness of important issues through the medium. The Foundation's main activities are Head On Photo Festival and Head On Awards (Portrait, Landscape, and Student photographic prizes) and an annual program of collaborative projects. Head On Foundation is a bridge between Australian and international photography markets. The festival has toured in the US, China, India, Europe, and New Zealand, introducing the global arts community to the wealth of photographic talent Australia possesses.

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