Karmic Moments Capture Unimagined Links

A new solo photographic exhibition that juxtaposes cultural boundaries between Bali and Laos has opened in Bali. It showcases intimate moments in karmic communities where subjects in the photos continue their lives as if a photographer wasn’t there.

A first-time exhibition by Bali-resident Italian photographer Luciana Ferrero that explores the spiritual juxtaposition of Bali and Laos is winning growing interest for its conceptual style, thought-provoking photography and the idea of a karmic link between widely differing societies.

Karmic Communities, Bali and Laos, at Rubicon Kitchen Restaurant in Seminyak, is an exhibition of 41 impressionistic and digitally modified images in different mediums. The works capture intimate moments and actions in Balinese families and with Laotian monks, central to its theme.

Fererro’s photographs of Balinese women on Legian Beach, children from the community in which she lives, a Balinese traditional cockfight, monks poised on a river’s edge and two young monks beside a stylized wooden door use black and white, striking saffron and shades of evening light fading into night to highlight the Laotian-Balinese spiritual connection.

Her subjects continue their lives as if she, the photographer, is not there.

An old man smoking (in a work entitled Kretek), an aging husband and wife in an affectionate pose (Bali Gothic) and an intimate ceremonial kiss between a grandmother and her granddaughter (The Kiss) add to the enchantment of the stories behind each moment.

Jakarta-based interior designer Roland Adam, who visited Bali to see the exhibition, said he found Fererro’s photographs interesting for their subjects and medium. He said although his preference was for black and white photography, the control with different colours and the medium chosen for print was attractive and helped capture the essence of characters in the photos.

Adam also said the photography was important for teaching youth and regenerating culture. He selected a 30cm by 60 cm image of a young boy copying his father’s gestures of prayer (Odalan: Temple Tryptich)as his favourite.

The works also captured the interest of non-Indonesian and Asian eyes. Young Australian Nina Haigh, 11, on holiday in Bali with her family, said the relationships shown between the subjects in the photographs were like a theatre and a window into Balinese life.

She said some of the works show Bali in a way people would not expect, opening opportunities for a more intimate view. She was drawn to matching and stylised 100cm by 135cm faces of Buddha in Dharma and a 50cm by 60cm work, King of Rags. But her favourite was the 50cm by 60cm Bali Cockfight.

Fererro’s exhibition – whose opening on July 11 was sponsored by Bali-resident consultant Scott Armstrong; Javanese photographer and graphic designer Hidayat managed the artwork and design for the collection – continues her efforts to raise funds for 100 severely disabled children in the remote Santu Damian Rehabilitation Centre in Cancar and Labuhan Bajo, Flores. Profits from the sale of her photographs have helped operational and equipment costs and provided hydrotherapy equipment, computers and a fully resourced classroom.

Recently two Rotary clubs in Western Australia pledged funds to build a physiotherapy facility in the Labuan Bajo Centre. ~ Lee Campbell

Karmic Communities, Bali and Laos, to August 10. Rubicon Kitchen Restaurant, Jl Pettitenget, Seminyak. Fererro’s work can also be seen at www.lucifererro-bali.com

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