Aditia Djayasudarma captures tenderness and nostalgia in his photographs of the off beaten tracks. Misty mountain, rocky roads and barren landscapes are some of his regular subjects. Born and bred in Singapore, this young designer of Indonesia heritage has rode into North Korea, walked and hitch-ride the Wakhan Valley of Tajikistan travelled to the and in the summer of 2017 cycled from Iran to Turkey.
"I walked and hitch-hiked in the isolated and remote Wakhan Valley of Tajikistan towards Kyrgyzstan and by far the most mentally and physically tiring travel I have ever done."
Adit, let's start with something autobiographical. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Aditia Djayasudarma, I studied Visual Communication (Graphic Design) and graduated from Lasalle College of the Arts, Singapore in 2009.
Where are you based and what do you do for a living?
I am based in Singapore and currently employed as a graphic designer for a leading
e-Commerce company based in Singapore. I am trying to move away from design and focus fully on documentary photography.
You majored in visual communications in Lasalle, and then went on to do graphic design works. What was your relationship with photography then and now?
I studied film photography for a brief period in school as a curriculum and learnt how to develop films in darkrooms. I got hold of my first camera in 2006. It was a 35mm Nikon FM2 with a Nikkor 50mm F1.8 lens. I shoot a lot of portraits then and many are of friends. As I travelled more, I started to photograph landscapes and places. I have been a graphic designer for a good 10 years and would consider myself as a graphic designer first although now I am trying to move away from design and focus extensively on documentary photography.
Your choice of travelling locations are often offbeat and somewhat nostalgic. Was this deliberate?
My first encounter with social, identity and border issues was an unexpected one. In 2014, I travelled to Kashgar, China populated dominantly by Uighurs muslims. It didn’t felt like I was in China, easily a country in the Middle East. I also travelled in Kyrgyzstan where the majority 75% of its population are muslims but I found something very interesting, they have a drinking problem. These are issues that interests me and it was more than just travelling but more on learning, absorbing and documenting.
Which was your favourite country you’ve been to and why?
Wakhan Valley in Tajikistan and Afghanistan due to its interesting geographical location and isolation.
What was your most memorable experience?
Walking and hitch-hiking for two weeks in the Wakhan Valley.
The places you visit have very strong political environment. Do visiting all these places have an impact on your photography?
Social, identity and border issues are political consequences
Tell us more about your latest zine titled, “Everyday Iran”. Describe your thought process on the makings of this zine. How did you curate the images in the zine?
Iran as a country has extremely high negative media coverage. “Everyday Iran” consists of photographs of my direct encounters as a foreigner in 2015 and 2017. I want the viewers to browse “Everyday Iran” and to see Iran “as-is” and question themselves about the images that are portrayed and to either be intrigued or cautious. To understand Iran, you have to be in Iran.
Your latest zines contain images from your first and second trip to Iran. What made you go back there? Could you share us some of your memorable experiences from these 2 trips.
Iranian people in general. Persian hospitalities that you will never get anywhere in the world. On my 2017 trip, I cycled from Tehran towards Istanbul, Turkey. I was honked by vehicles with waves and shouts of “welcome to Iran!” and stopped numerous times along the way in Tehran up until the Iran/Turkey border for photographs, chai (tea), bread, fruits and conversations.
Which of the photos in the zine means most to you? And why?
Page 23. Iranians, Turks and Kurds standing closely together waiting at the immigration booths to cross into Turkey. The elders, women with children were given priorities while young Iranians, Turks and Kurds men guard them from falling.
What motivates you when taking a photograph?
I’m learning everyday. Capturing an act before it disappears forever. Moments are never twice, that’s what motivates me.
What trips are on your agenda this year?
Cycling in the Himalayas in July!
Describe your photography and aesthetics to us?
Documentary street photography. Quick and un-posed.
Keep up with Adit's work on his Instagram.
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