It is perhaps more useful to try to imagine space as a series of relations between things that creates specific meanings depending on the contexts, rather than thinking about it as something defined by physical boundaries. After all, any given space may be perceived in different values by the people inhabiting or taking interest in it.
These disparate views may co-exist peacefully, bringing complex layers of understanding that enrich the said space. Unfortunately, they can also be too discordant that these conflicting views become seemingly impossible to resolve. The space then becomes contested, which may even escalate into violent clashes with terrible consequences, from mass eviction to forceful migration. As such, the issue of space is also closely related to a matter of powers and controls.
Furthermore, the existence of internet adds complexity to the issue. While its nature is virtual, we still often use spatial terms and metaphors to describe what we do within it. It may suggest that we think of the cyberspace as having similar properties with that of the physical world. Yet at the same time, the behaviors of internet users seem to start blurring the old boundaries of what is considered public or personal space.
Throughout history, both science and the arts have dealt with the question of space. As a medium often said to be the perfect cross between them, photography should be able to engage in this old-age conversation.
By choosing SPACE as the main theme for its 2021 edition, JIPFest wishes to invite various interpretations on how space plays an important role in our life. Space can be meaningful in a deeply personal level, or embedded in collective memories as a slice of history. Its scope and function can be as immediate as affecting a few individuals, to as wide-ranging as being a stage of political expression in a healthy democratic society.
The festival hopes to feature photography and photo-based multimedia works in a wide range of visual approaches that can stimulate further discussions regarding the theme, as well as providing satisfying aesthetic experiences.
Sayed Asif Mahmud, Kurniadi Widodo, Ng Swan Ti