Once risqué performance artists, now new parents–how they can do both
After meeting up recently for a couple of documentary style photography sessions, I started thinking about how cool my clients Sasa and Juna were. I’ve known this dynamic Javanese couple since 2010 when I went to their art exhibit in Solo, Indonesia.
Unfortunately, I actually missed their performance piece but my friends described it to me later. It involved partial nudity, body painting, and very lasciviously-wielded bananas. I got my hands on photographic proof, also.
When it’s time to pray in Indonesia, there is a powerful collection of calls to prayer, sung live, all at slightly different volumes and pacing from multiple mosques. Many people head to their mosque to pray, and others practice for performances like Sasa and Juna’s. Or some make time for both.
The room for expression of the sacred and profane draws me to Indonesia. (I put these cattle carts on the sacred list, for sure.)
Sasa and Juna know how to navigate diverse spaces
This dichotomy of exploring both the sacred and profane, and the shades of gray in between is a part of what has always interested me about Indonesia. Sasa and Juna epitomize this quality of being engaged in all of it.
The title of this blog is a bit tongue-in-cheek. Of course, risqué performance artists can also be parents. Why not? But what I find remarkable about Sasa and Juna is the graceful way they navigate these different spaces and different expectations.
A few years after I went to the first exhibit, I got to see Sasa’s final project for her university graduation. She had created a collection of very large and colorful paintings, many with couples and all replete with a wide assortment of different footwear.
I never knew Sasa had a foot fetish, and I liked the playfulness and fun in her work. It definitely fit her personality. I learned that Sasa and Juna often collaborated on their paintings, performances and other art projects.
I’ve kept in touch with Sasa and Juna and it’s been almost a decade since the banana performance. They’re married now and working full time. Juna is an art teacher and Sasa is an administrative assistant at a web design firm. Although Sasa and Juna don’t get as much time to create their own paintings and performance art these days, they have other creative outlets.
Their newest creative work and pursuits
One such collaboration is their new daughter Orichi. Her name is based on the English word original. Oris does a lot of sleeping, eating, yawning and smiling.
Sasa, Juna, and Oris split their time between Sasa’s mother’s house and Juna’s parent’s house so all the grandparents get access to Oris, who is very popular. Juna’s family owns a working farm and when Juna’s not teaching he spends a lot of time picking vegetables, feeding chickens, or harvesting melons. Sasa was often involved but since she works full time, she spends all her time away from work with Oris, who is a hungry girl.
Sasa and Juna expertly fit into multiple spaces in society. They aren’t afraid to bare it all in a performance art piece, and they’re very comfortable hanging out with a group of friends on a street corner.
But they also adeptly traverse other communities. Juna works as a respected art teacher– just look at how conservative his workwear is. I know pretty well about the politics of working at a public school in Indonesia (I did it back in the day). Fitting into this complex setting where decorous personal interactions and proper behavior are considered to be very important is not easy.
Sasa and Juna also get along well with both sets of parents, who have different expectations for them. I admire Sasa and Juna’s ability to fit into different parts of society. I am not sure I could be as good at it.
Our documentary maternity session atop large boulders
I wanted to take photos of Sasa before she gave birth so we chose a time safely before her due date. I love documenting the impressive changes that take place in pregnant bodies, and I think they’re important to document and remember. Would you like your own maternal documentary session? Get in touch.
We went to a beautiful spot near her in-law’s house. There were giant boulders and verdant rice fields. Sasa maneuvered impressively down narrow paths and climbed up the side of rocks. Looking at the photos, I like how the form of Sasa’s pregnant belly and the rounded boulders complement each other.
I had some technical difficulties and our time was more rushed than I would have liked. Being on the equator, it’s always shocking how quickly the sun sets. I don’t know why it shocks me since it never changes, but I think it’s because I grew up in a different hemisphere. Sunsets feel a lot more leisurely when you’re farther away from the equator! It’s hard to get used to this new reality.
Weeks after our maternity session, Sasa gave birth to a healthy baby. The new parents spent a lot of time nesting at home, and Sasa got some time off work.
Next, we took newborn photos
A couple months later, I came back to take more photos. We decided to stay close by the house and the farm, and take some photos of Oris interacting with her parents. I always love baby’s hand signs, drool and dramatic facial expressions. Even small environmental changes (sun and wind) affect them so greatly.
While Sasa escaped for a shower, Juna held Oris. She was getting sleepy by that time as she had been awake for a few hours and started to fall asleep in his arms as the sun set in the distance. I was able to get a ton of yawn photos–my favorite!
What are some of the best parts reasons for investing in documentary style photography sessions?
I love documentary style photo sessions because I get play photographic detective. We don’t need train tracks, specially-built styrofoam photo sets, or other props to express true love. It’s there already. An adept documentary photographer can find and capture it. It’s way more poignant than that posed stuff.
I don’t want to get ahead of myself, as Oris is still tiny but I see an interesting future for her. Each day, she develops, nurtured by parents who value creative expression and love her deeply. Oris has so much potential. I hope I’ll be around to see what happens.