The Banal Aesthetics of Erik Prasetya’s JAKARTA

IPA PROJECTS, Street Photography 45 Comments

In our poll of Influential Asian Photographers, West Sumatra born Erik Prasetya was ranked as one of the most influential figures in Indonesia’s documentary photography landscape. Throughout his career, Erik has worked as a commercial and news photographer, but he is best known and regarded for his journalistic documentary work, of which he personally describes its approach as Estetika Banal or ‘Banal Aesthetics’.

Erik’s ‘Banal Aesthetics’ was adopted after he met Sebastian Salgado in 1997 when he worked as his fixer in Jakarta. Witnessing Salgado’s creation process first hand greatly affected the way Erik approached and thought of his own photography.

From the foreword of Erik’s book, Firman Ichsan writes, in Erik’s Estetika Banal, he “critiqued the classical aesthetic approach, even saying most photographers possess a middle class aesthetic that leans toward voyeurism or romanticism if not exoticism—a situation that must be overcome by photographers when shooting in order to get at the “truth”.” This approach and position reveals Erik’s strong tradition and practice as a photojournalist, some would say a conservative one.

‘JAKARTA Estetika Banal’ is Erik Prasetya’s laborous photographic documentation of Jakarta, a collection from 1990 to 2010, and can be viewed as his contra-response to Salgado’s biblical pictorials of the city. The photographs, a blend of street photography, documentary photography and traditional portraiture, have served as an influential reference point for young Indonesian photographers looking to find their own voices in today’s contemporary photography world.

We are honored to have Erik Prasetya as a Special Presenter at the IPA Street Photography Presentation JAKARTA on Thursday, 22nd November 2012 at Kineforum, Taman Ismail Marzuki, Jakarta, Indonesia. The presentation will begin at 6.30PM and is free admission to public audiences.

Further Reading:

• A book review of Erik’s ‘JAKARTA Estetika Banal’:
• Erik Prasetya Posts by Zhuang Wubin:
• Documentary Photograph: Erik Prasetya and Oscar Motuloh in Indonesia:



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Comments 45

  1. Hello

    We are a film festival based in France and we work since 37years to highlight the realty of people in different places of the planet.
    37 years old this year. Atypical Festival in the strongly independent and unruly landscape since its origins.
    A militant mobilization intense and essential.
    I encourage you to visit our web site wich is in french language, but that can give you an idea of who/what we are :

    The Film Festival of Douarnenez will focus this year on people of the Indonesian Archipel.
    During the 10 days of the festival which occures in the end of august, we invite several artists, film makers, authors…
    We show films but also have a photography / artist exhibition.
    Therefore, we are looking for contacts and informations about artists and photographer from Indonesia…

    We discovered your web site and the picture of Erik Prasetya.
    We could be interested to contact him or people who manage his author rights.
    We make some communication supports all over the year before the festival and we might be interrested by the picture number 3 to edit a post card that we send for the new year to 500 people who are members fo the festival and maybe use it for emailing.

    We would like to know if you could give us the right to use this photo.

    As we are a non profit organization we have small budget so we need to know your conditions.

    We also like to know your conditions in case we arrange an exhibition with you.

    Thanks to let me know as soon as possible (we would like to print the card around january the 15th.)
    Best regards

    Stéphanie Pihéry
    [email protected]
    3302 98 92 09 21

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