Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

The History of Boys, the MES 56 and Beyond: A survey of Contemporary Photography in Indonesia

Supartono, Alexander



This inaugural show of “Crossing SEA”, a series of research-based Southeast Asia photographic exhibitions, DECK presented one of the most successful and enduring photography collective in the region: the MES 56 of Yogyakarta, curated by Dr. Alexander Supartono. The exhibition showcased a survey of contemporary practice of photography in Indonesia through the individual and collective work of the collective ‘Ruang Mes 56,’ in a dialogue with their contemporaries. Founded in early 2000s, the “Ruang Mes 56” manifested the artistic liberation of photography following the fall of Indonesian military dictatorship in 1998. Their challenge of the dominant documentary strand not only introduced unorthodox visual and conceptual characteristics, but also brought photography in to a new playing ground: the establishment of Indonesian visual art. The exhibition explored aesthetic and thematic characters of the “Ruang Mes 56” that marked their entrance, acceptance and endurance in the national, regional and international art scenes. A selection of works of their compeers provided a conversation that might constitute a survey of contemporary photographic practice in Indonesia


Supartono, A. The History of Boys, the MES 56 and Beyond: A survey of Contemporary Photography in Indonesia. Exhibited at Singapore. 17 March 2017 - 23 April 2017. (Unpublished)

Exhibition Performance Type Exhibition
Start Date Mar 17, 2017
End Date Apr 23, 2017
Deposit Date Oct 1, 2018
Keywords MES 56, Photography, Exhibition, Contemporary, Indonesia, DECK, Singapore, Southeast Asia, Archive
Public URL
Additional Information Exhibition site:

Selected reviews of the exhibition:;

Related research papers, public lectures and talks:

You might also like

Downloadable Citations