Friday, July 19, 2013

Bali, Java, in My Dreams

Rummaging through a second-hand bookshop in Ulladulla today, I found this beautifully written book by Christine Jordis.

From ancient temples to the muddy streets of Jakarta, from the volcano to the mini-cab, Christine Jordis leads an intoxicating, sensual tour of Indonesia.Relying on atmosphere and sensation over fact and statistic, Christine Jordis has written a deeply personal, vividly impressionistic account of several journeys to the Indonesian islands of Bali and Java. Dazzled, wide-eyed, but always astute, Jordis describes famous monuments, native dances, encounters with locals. She conjures up the various literary and artistic figures who sought refuge and inspiration in Indonesia - Arthur Rimbaud, Herman Melville, Joseph Conrad - and brings ancient legends to life. She chronicles fascinating sociological observations and historical curiosities, but it is Jordis' sensual, emotional responses to her surroundings that most distinguish Bali, Java, in my Dreams from the average East-meets-West travelogue. From the heart of the lush tropical forests, Jordis guides her readers through the technicolor paradise that makes Paris seem grey in comparison. Ultimately, it is these very colours that infuse her life - and her readers' lives - with new meaning.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Bali 1912

In 1912, a young German doctor working for the Dutch East Indies government fell in love with Bali.

To mark his devotion the doctor, Gregor Krause, took more than 4,000 photographs - making him the forerunner of the vast numbers of visitors who have been taking pictures of Bali ever since.

Then in 1920, 400 of his photographs accompanied by his own reports were published in Germany. Their effect on a Europe newly emerged from four years of world war and still struggling with austerity was dramatic. Here were pictures of a hallowed island of love, harmony and beauty - everything that Europe would like to be.

A selection of Gregor Krause's best work is published in Bali 1912, including many prints from his original glass slides. They offer a unique view of traditional Bali and prove once again that good black-and-white photography can easily hold its own against today's glossiest work in colour.

Here's a video clip of the same time period although unrelated to the book: