Rising photographer Kinez Riza defines herself as this: “I shed many selves because I’m attracted to a multitude of experiences but am afraid of them, too. I look for authenticity. I’m really happy in the presence of ‘Nature’ and am not bothered by discomfort—although a good deal of comfort is thoroughly appreciated, as well. Adaptive to a fault and being able to assimilate in different environments with different people is a sticking trait. I live in a quite chaotic momentum, so finding order in chaos—most importantly being able to laugh about it—is also a pretty important way of living.”
Explain what you do and focus on now.
I’m an artist working with photography and film as my main media. My work explores representations of reality and identity in lesser-known belief systems, and I’ve been recently focusing on mythology, symbology, and iconology. I gather most of my context and work on independent or institution-based artist-led expeditions. This has taken me to some very remote places in the world, like the Arctic Circle, Mongolia, and Kalimantan, in order to find the baseline similarities consistent among people from all walks of life. The results are represented artistically and shown in exhibitions. I have participated in exhibitions in Indonesia and abroad.
At such a young age, you have created numerous works in photography. Who’s your biggest inspiration, and why?
I feel like there’s an essence in everyone I meet that inspires me. I don’t have a specific person that stands above all. In phases— yes; currently I’m very fond of Sir Ranulph Fiennes. He is considered the world’s greatest living explorer. I also love both classic and contemporary authors, such as Joseph Conrad, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Alain de Botton. Other less prominent authors who wrote much about Indonesia in the early 1900s are brilliant as well. The written word, to me, propels you in a wonderful state of being.
What’s integral to the work of an artist?
I guess, my understanding of it is very subjective. I’m not even sure I know what it means to be an artist. Personally it’s a “language” I best understand. I have gone through spells of not making art, and I didn’t function all that well. It’s a necessary platform for me to continue being myself.
What has been a seminal experience in your life?
External circumstances, such as my experiences with people and different places. I was exposed to a great breadth of different people at a very young age, and I believe conflicts are the constant deterrent to connectedness. In some ways, my involvement in natural-disaster relief effort and conflict management engaged me with the difficult questions that came to me during my formative years. I wanted to understand why people make it so difficult for themselves to get along with each other, under overwhelming differences in thoughts and beliefs. What art do you most identify with? I love the pre-Raphaelites because my work applies those stark romanticist moods, and the realm of film and photography is a visual language I best connect with. I really admire Richard Mosse’s series, The Enclave—the way the work is represented as film installations and photographs, is very engaging to look at. It’s “a different portrayal of conflict”. I most relate to works that also explore the tension between reality and fantasy.
What is an artistic outlook on life?
I suppose that finding a narrative in every- thing is a pretty artistic outlook on life. I feel like it’s another way of telling stories to one another. It’s also like dropping cultural milestones—for some other persons in some distant future to look back and relate to other people whether they are there or not anymore.
On a lighter note, what’s your most embarrassing moment?
Being on the other side of the camera, especially looking at myself through the medium I work with is pretty embarrassing to me. Anything that forces me to gaze at myself makes me feel pretty embarrassed. For me, it’s as if I’m looking at myself in my environment as opposed to losing my “self ” in the environment. I like the state of “Being” when you displace yourself and connect to all sorts of living things. That wasn’t a very light answer, wasn’t it?
What food, drink, or song that inspires you?
I like cooking very much, cooking with friends or for myself. I love a good roast, or anything fresh and simple but very tasty. A good dining space with great food and great company is one of the best things ever. What do you dislike about the art world? I love the There are always good experiences or bad experiences in different worlds. I think the art world means a lot to me, as I’m emotionally invested in it, too. That’s usually the catalyst to unpleasant feelings because I care enough to get annoyed by things.
What superpower would you have, and why?
Maybe changing matter, or changing into a matter, and hopefully I can feel in that state, so I can feel what it’s like to be a tree, the sun, or a molecule of water. Being able to change matter also includes teleportation capabilities, time travel, and flying—this is really important because sometimes you get fed up by the journey, and you just want to get there.
Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it? Is it perceived to be a lonely life?
I found that being an artist allows me to connect with other people better. I really find myself engaged with so many different people, may they be small tribal communities, scientists, filmmakers, artists, journalists, business-oriented, or friends from different backgrounds and interests. I work in collaboration with archaeologists on their findings around Indonesia. They are very kind, supportive, and inclusive when I explained to them what I do. Maybe the perception is that because you have this moods pre-raphaelItes because my work applIes those stark romantIcIst world in your head, you can’t find someone who has the same world in their head. Everyone’s heads are filled with different worlds, and that’s probably the most interesting thing about people. I definitely prefer diversity over a singular entity.
What is your dream project?
Well, I’m making a film called Khayangan at the moment. Being able to work within that medium has been a euphoric experience, especially with the team that I collaborate with. My work in collaboration with the archaeologists has been quite a dream journey as well. I helped them document their groundbreaking finding— the world’s oldest rock art in Sulawesi— while making my own art, and have since then met with the wonderful Dr. Chris Stringer, a research leader of human origins at the Natural History Museum London. He is a leading researcher of the “Out of Africa” theory. I feel very blessed and grateful of all of it, and it still feels like a dream because I’m still working on it—so the significance of it may hit me later! I’d love to keep doing what I do and living because of it. Time is probably the biggest constraint, so taking some time away, somewhere very remote and quiet, in a nice cabin in the middle of nowhere, writing, reading, filming, photographing, cooking, and being in the presence of nature—all that is definitely the dream.