Documentary photographer Erik Prasetya (b. 1958; Padang) shot Mudik (2004) during Art ConneXions, an exchange programme organized by the German cultural centres in the Asia-Pacific region.
Mudik is an urban phenomenon unique to Indonesia. It occurs before the end of Ramadan, when around 16 million Indonesians all across the country leave the cities and return home to celebrate Idul Fitr. This is when they are no longer a nameless number in Jakarta’s working force. They become humans again, says Prasetya.
To illustrate his point, Prasetya photographed these “pilgrims” at railway stations and the airport – all ready to embark on the Mudik – and he pictured the same people when they returned to Jakarta after the holidays. By doing so, he has helped the people who toil in the city reclaim a part of their dignity.
Somewhat surprisingly though, as Indonesia’s eminent photographer, Prasetya has never been featured in a solo exhibition. He is not bothered though. As he explains, he shoots not for applause. He shoots because, as a photographer, that’s what he has to do.
[People returning home for Idul Fitr are seen resting at a gasoline station at Cikarang. / From “Mudik” / Courtesy of Erik Prasetya]