Published 31 May 2016   

Text: Ve Handojo

Photos: Ve Handojo & Atreyu Moniaga


Hiding from the present, predicting what lies ahead.

Atreyu Moniaga’s Journey of Recovery

A young visual artist is holding his solo exhibition in
Jakarta, and Ve Handojo got the chance to join the chilling creative process.

Our car departed from Jakarta to Curug Nangka – a waterfall in deep Bogor – at two in the morning. The two-hour drive only took us to the parking lot of the preserved rainforest. The ten of us continued with a thirty-minute walk, and half of it was along the knee length river to reach the waterfall, carrying cameras, tripods, and trunks of properties. Along with us were two male models who were not quite sure what kind of photo shoot they were about to do.

It was a chilly dawn up there in Bogor with a cold river, and even more chilling waterfall.
“I need you two to take off your clothes, and pose before the waterfall,” said Atreyu Moniaga, the photographer. “We are going to do only three shoots. One with you, one with you, and one with both of you. And then we are done.”


Her endless battle with her own body.

Atreyu Moniaga then explained the story behind the image that he was aiming to photograph. A relationship that went cold. An inability to listen to each other due to the constant noise of the environment – in this case represented by the waterfall. And, two big egos represented by crowns on their heads.

The models were holding their cool among the chilling environment. The three photo shoots were done in less than thirty minutes. But, “Actually there is another photo shoot that I would like to take, but I doubt that you would like to do this,” Atreyu Moniaga said to one of the models. “I wanted you to get into the water, laid there half-naked on your back, and I will shoot you from the top angle.”

Model Reinukky Abidharma, accepted the challenge. He was powdered, then laid down in the heavy stream of cold water. Atreyu Moniaga captured his expression as he was fighting the chill.

“It was a portrayal of baptism as the second birth,” the 28-year old photographer then explained. “He was in fetal position with water all around him.”

The images captured by Atreyu Moniaga with the help of his college students were then exhibited in Senopati 79 a Qubicle Center. PULIH – or road to recovery – is Atreyu Moniaga’s first solo photography exhibition. The story that he presents was about a series of pain and its journey to recovery. Pain of rejection, pain of peer pressure, pain of self image, and many more that we all can relate too.

Atreyu Moniaga has made his mark as an illustrator in several solo exhibitions. His works were also displayed in galleries in Malaysia, The Phillipines, Canada, and Slovakia. Famed fashion designer Sebastian Gunawan collaborated with him for his Melange des Sans collection in 2014. In the meantime Atreyu Moniaga was also a leading role in The Fox Exploits the Tiger’s Might – a short movie that won Best Short Film in the Indonesian Film Festival 2015, and in competition in Semaine de la Critique at Cannes Film Festival 2015.

The lecturer in Universitas Bunda Mulia, North Jakarta, also regulary mentors his students after class, and even holds mini exhibitions for them. For the last three years, Atreyu Moniaga has helped his students exhibit their illustrations and photographs in six different exhibitions, promoting their talents. Some of them have landed jobs in galleries, museums, magazines, and more.

“There are stories and messages that I would like to tell that are better conveyed in the medium of photography,” explained Atreyu Moniaga when asked why he was doing PULIH. “All of them might be based on my personal experiences, but I believe they also ring true to many audiences.”

Fine art photography is not a field many young artists would prefer to jump into as they did not promise sales as much as assigned or documentary photographs. PULIH is a showcase that came not only from Atreyu Moniaga’s personal experiences, but also his heart. Despite the often dark and gloomy mood of the photographs, the making of each work was filled with warmth and laughters – a sign that the artist himself has found his own way to recovery.

The photo shoot in Curug Nangka ended at eight in the morning, and nobody was complaining about the cold weather. Atreyu Moniaga’s troop of college students were singing and cheering on our walk back to the parking area. The models looked fresh, and admitted that that was a unique photo session they would always treasure. A photo session not by a photographer, but by an artist.


Pulih runs in:
Senopati 79 a Qubicle Center,
Jl. Senopati no. 79, South Jakarta
from May 25 until June 25, 2016. atreyumoniaga.com
Instagram: @atreyu.moniaga

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